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Connellsville commemorates 150 years since Civil War's end

| Tuesday, April 7, 2015, 12:41 a.m.
Lori C. Padilla | for Trib Total Media
In honor of the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, the Carnegie Free Library of Connellsville has items from the Tennessee History Museum on display that showcase a typical soldier, his uniform and lifestyle. Beverley Motycka, assistant to the director and display artist, holds the boots which would be typical footwear of a soldier.

Carnegie Free Library of Connellsville is commemorating the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War throughout April. Artifacts on loan from the Tennessee History Museum are on display and two speakers will be featured.

At 1 p.m. Thursday, local author Ceane O'hanlon Lincoln will present a program in the library auditorium about Gen. Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House, Virginia.

“In the South during that era, county seat names were followed by the words Court House. Thus, Appomattox Court House was the county seat for Appomattox County, Va.,” O'hanlon Lincoln said. “I will be reading two related stories from my new audio book, ‘Mists Over Appomattox,' produced by Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh. I crafted the stories to whisk audiences back in time 150 years ago, to that historic Palm Sunday, April 9, 1865, to the sleepy village of Appomattox Court House, Va., where the long and bloody American Civil War came to an honorable, poignant end.”

The first story, “Honor Answering Honor,” will place listeners in the parlor of the McLean house, a private residence within the village, where the historic meeting between the two opposing commanders — Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee — unfolded and the surrender was signed.

The second story, “The Silent Witness,” focuses on the rag doll that belonged to the McLean's youngest daughter, Lula. The beguiling doll was sitting on the mantel in the room where the surrender took place.

“When I viewed that doll at Appomattox a couple of years ago, I thought, ‘If that doll could talk, what a story she would tell,' ” O'hanlon-Lincoln said. “‘In Mists Over Appomattox,' the Silent Witness does talk — and what a story does she tell.”

The surrender at Appomattox has a strong Southwestern Pennsylvania — and even strong Connellsville — connection, in that there were several Pennsylvania soldiers involved in the hard fighting that led to Lee's surrender, including the 142nd PA Regiment, H-Company, which was mustered in Fayette County. Their drum resides in the museum room of the library.

“We are pleased to be hosting these special guest speakers in celebration and in recognition of such an important time in American history — the end of the Civil War,” library director Eileen Beveridge said.

“Ceane is planning to have her new audio book, ‘Mists Over Appomattox,' with her for sale. Then on Saturday at 1 p.m., Marge Burke, author of ‘Letters to Mary,' will be here speaking about the facts she uncovered in her letters and photos in connection with the book,” Beveridge added.

Burke will present a program primarily about the background behind the book, which is based on actual letters that belong to her stepfather, written by his cousin Irene's grandfather Daniel and sent home to his wife, Mary, during the Civil War. She will talk about the letters, how she got them and how she put them together to make the book. She also will talk about the blend of fiction and fact and about the research that went into the process. Burke will bring two of Mary's dresses, copies of several letters and photos.

“The letters to Mary drew me in, until I was not sure where Mary ended and I began,” Burke said. “Soldiers were not the only casualties of war. These brave young women had to live by faith and endure hardships of separation, fear and loneliness, and they — like us — press on.”

Burke will touch on her writing career and the process of getting published.

A trunk depicting the “Life of a Civil War Soldier” from The Tennessee State Museum is on display at the library.

The FRIENDS of the Carnegie Free Library will provide refreshments for both programs.

“The library is thrilled to provide quality programs that showcase such talented local authors and historic events,” Beveridge said.

For more information, contact the library at 724-628-1380.

Nancy Henry is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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