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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Battle of Marshall 150: 'Celebrate Freedom' is theme of Feb. 9 event

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Virginia Huston
MARSHALL, Mo. -- Life was grim in Saline County during the Civil War, according to local historians. Organizers say that's why the Battle of Marshall 150th Anniversary series of events are a commemoration rather than a celebration.

But one good thing came from the war: Freedom.

The Battle of Marshall Second Saturday series of events will continue Saturday, Feb. 9, at 1 p.m. in Windmill Gallery, 467 S. Odell Ave. in Marshall with two lecturers and a storyteller.

In 1860, one-third of Saline County's population was in slavery. The lecturers, both local historians, will tell about how former slaves in the area responded to freedom.

Marvin Wilhite
Virginia Huston, the last person born in Pennytown, will tell the story about how the black settlement was established and thrived for several generations. But she has more than that to tell.

Frederick Douglass said, "Who would be free must strike the blow" and at least two African Americans from Saline County signed up to join the cause of freedom.

In "Tracing Our Past: Colored Volunteers Enlisted as a Way Out of Slavery," Huston will also share research on two ancestors of local families who served in the military during the Civil War and whose descendents still live in the area. Charles Matthews was Huston's great-great grandfather, and Richard Green was Lola Williams' great-great grandfather.

Marvin Wilhite will tell the story of the Murray family. According to Wilhite's research, Temp Murray was the first African American to buy property in the county with his own money following emancipation. His family farmed the land near Marshall for several generations.

Gladys Coggswell
(Contributed photo by Vanda Bidwell/The News Gazette)
Renowned storyteller Gladys Coggswell has been named Missouri's Master Folk Artist in storytelling multiple times. She will help bring alive the experiences of African Americans in Civil War Missouri.

According to Your Favorite Storytellers Foundation, "Her dynamic performances have brought audiences to laughter and/or tears as well as to their feet. She is one of the nation's leading experts in the area of the application of storytelling as an inner healing ... strategy. A typical performance by Gladys Coggswell might include songs and stories of her own creation, from various cultures and of the elders she has interviewed throughout the United States."

Mar-Saline Branch of the NAACP and Friends of Pennytown will provide food for the event.

Coggswell's appearance will be supported by a Missouri Arts Council Touring Performers Grant.

Future events:

--Saturday, Feb. 16: 2 p.m. at Windmill Gallery -- Presidents' High Tea, a fundraiser for the Battle of Marshall project, featuring savory and sweet period food. Entertainment will include "Sons of Liberty Rise to the Defense of the Nation," a period tableau with narration and music. Tickets are available in Marshall at Square Corner, Windmill Gallery and The Marshall Democrat-News.

--Saturday, March 9: 1 p.m. at Windmill Gallery -- Dawn to Dusk Period Fashion Show, Connie Grisier and Connie Cunningham.

--Saturday, April 13: 1 p.m. at Windmill Gallery -- Lecture by Arrow Rock Historic Site Administrator Michael Dickey and music and lecture by Missouri fiddle music expert and Prof. Emeritus Howard Marshall.

--Saturday, May 11: 10 a.m. at Indian Foothills Park -- Children's fair: Period games and activities for kids. Storyteller Joyce Slater.

--Saturday, June 8: 1 p.m., location to be announced -- Civil War photography with photographers Bill Westbrook and Chris Nelson.

Other summer events are still in the planning stages.

The commemoration will culminate Sept. 13-15 with two battle recreations, a parade from the Marshall square to Indian Foothills Park, camp tours, lectures, sutlers, music, a dance, storytellers, period crafts and cannon firings.

The event will be in conjunction with the annual Santa Fe Trail Days, sponsored by Marshall Chamber of Commerce.

The battle re-enactment has been granted a "maximum effort" status by the Missouri Civil War Re-enactors' Association. The 2nd Missouri Infantry is the sponsoring MCWRA unit.

On the anniversary of the battle, Oct. 13, 2013, local veterans organizations will host a ceremony to honor the sacrifices and suffering of soldiers and civilians who endured the battle and the strife of the war years.

Other partners in the project include Marshall Parks and Recreation, the City of Marshall, Marshall Chamber of Commerce, Saline County Historical Society, Saline County, the Saline County Fair Association and the Missouri Humanities Council with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Related stories:
Friends of Pennytown: past, present, future
Farmer, genealogist work to piece together story of historic Saline County family who made transition from slavery to freedom


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