Tuesday, May 01, 2001

Students revive Civil War era

Sharon Woods Village event runs through Friday

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        SHARONVILLE — Meridith Curry stood before the Fairfield Middle School students at Sharon Woods Village's Somerset Church, demurely holding a fan to her face, re-enacting a moment from the 19th century in the reconstructed Heritage Village Museum.

        As the eighth-graders cut out pieces to assemble their own fans, 14-year-old Meridith brought the fan across her forehead while her mother, Norma Curry, explained the language of the fan in matters of the heart as they applied to teen-agers around the time of the Civil War.

  What: “Confederate soldiers” will come to the Heritage Village Museum in Sharon Woods this weekend as part of the park's Civil War Days. Visitors may learn about life in a Confederate encampment.
  When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.
  Admission: $5 for adults, $4 for senior citizens and $3 for children under 12.
  Information: 563-9484 or www.thinkhistory.org
        “Chaperones would be watching over you every minute,” Mrs. Curry said, explaining that many 14-year-olds already would have been married. Moving the fan across her forehead was one way a girl could tell her suitor: Be careful, we're being watched, Mrs. Curry said.

        The church was one of 10 stations that Tristate students rotated among during a 90-minute program depicting life before, during and after the war as part of Civil War Days, which continues through Friday. At each stop, re-enactors presented information aligned with the sixth- and ninth-grade Ohio proficiency tests.

        “I guess (fan signals) seems kind of silly to me, but back then it was traditional,” said Matt Ristau, a 14-year-old Fairfield Middle School eighth-grader.

        At one station the students listened as Stan Wernz, retired North College Hill Schools superintendent, portrayed Abraham Lincoln presenting the Gettysburg Address. In the Vorhes House they helped make hardtack (food) for the troops. And at the Chester Park train station, students grabbed quill pens and wrote letters to families telling them a loved one had been killed in battle.

        “I thought it was going to be boring at first, but it's kind of fun,” said Josh Glutz, 14, of Fairfield after he learned a two-step dance.

        Carrie Coates, in fifth grade at J.F. Dulles Elementary School, said the dance was much harder to learn than when living history musicians Erica and Kent Courtney showed it to the students.

        “You had to keep switching from left to right so fast,” Carrie said.


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