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New Bethlehem event features Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address

| Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 12:06 a.m.
Louis B.Ruediger | Leader Times
Jim McCullough, 74,stands in front of the Civil War display at the Red Bank Valley Historical Society in Rimersburg. Tuesday April 29, 2014. McCullough will be delivering the Gettysburg Address as Lincoln on May 1 for the Society in New Bethlehem as part of its 150th anniversary of the Civil War program.

The Redbank Valley Historical Society is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War on Thursday with local Abraham Lincoln impersonator Jim McCullough giving “The Gettysburg Address.”

McCullough, a Rimersburg resident, will be telling stories of Lincoln's personal life during the historical society's first of two Civil War presentations. A second event is being planned for the fall.

McCullough, 74, began impersonating Lincoln 15 years ago after watching a presentation by Gettysburg-based impersonator James Getty.

“I just started studying Lincoln, and it was easy to pick up the way he carried himself, his mannerisms, wit and humor,” McCullough said. “So now I have a beard all the time, even though it needs a touch of Just for Men to keep it coal black.”

Although he's delivering Lincoln's most famous speech, McCullough said his impersonation tends to focus more on his life outside of politics.

“It's a way to bring more interest to history and the Redbank Valley Historical Society,” McCullough said. “That way, maybe someone who had kin in the war will bring in some local artifacts or stories to help us better understand our area and its part in the war.”

Event organizer Leroy Tabler of New Bethlehem said he hopes McCullough's portrayal of Lincoln and his personal stories will inspire people to track their family's lineage back to the Civil War era.

Tabler said about 3,600 men from Armstrong County and 3,000 from Clarion County served in the Union Army during the Civil War.

“We're hoping all of this will light a spark for people who come out and get them excited to find stories of their own families' involvement in the Civil War,” said event organizer Leroy Tabler of New Bethlehem. “Our goal is to have them come back and share their stories later this year.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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