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West Newton Civil War Heritage Festival resumes

| Thursday, May 20, 2010

Born near West Newton, Gen. Joseph Markel fought in War of 1812 with William Henry Harrison, who would go on to become the ninth president of the United States.

Markel fought at the Battle of Mississiniwa. In honor of Markel, South Huntingdon Township was once called Mississiniwa Township. A reenactment of that battle is held each year in the state of Indiana.

During The Civil War, Markle funded the formation of the Sewickley Rifles. The Union regiment encamped on Sewickley Creek.

On September 1861, the Sewickley Rifles marched to the train station in West Newton for Pittsburgh. While in Washington D.C., The Sewickley Rifles became Company E of the 105th Pennsylvania Volunteers.

The company took part in 20 different battles, including in the Peach Orchard at Gettysburg and at Fredericksburg. Just nine of the 106 members would be left when the company mustered out at the end of the war.

A reenactment of that march to the train station was held in May 2008 with the cooperation of the current Markel family who welcomed members of the Company E 105th Pennsylvania Volunteers reenactment group.

There are family members who are descendants of the 105th Co E in the reenactment company.

From that march evolved The West Newton Civil War Heritage Festival, set for Friday through Sunday.

The idea of the event is "to let people know West Newton's role in Civil War," said event chairwoman Barbara Laface.

The three-day event will feature a Civil war-era encampment by reenactors from Company E of the 105th Pennsylvania Volunteers at the historic Plummer House grounds, South Water Street.

Other reenactors expected to participate include the Keystone Regiment, the Pennsylvania Bucktails, and the 5th Virginia.

Local author Carl Landers along with reenactor Dan Robuck will be the guest speakers.

Civil War artifacts displays will be presented at the West Newton Gym, South Fifth Street.

Lander will demonstrate a Civil War era printing press from 8 to 10 p.m. at Creative Graphics at 214 E. Main Street. A fly tent sewing demonstration will also be presented at the Plummer House both Friday and Saturday as well as a spinning wheel demonstration at the gym. A campfire will take place at the Encampment at Plummer House, both Friday and Saturday.

At 1 p.m. Saturday, the members of Company E will March to the West Newton Cemetery, Vernon Drive. At 4 p.m., a flag ceremony will be held at the train depot on Vine Street at South Second Street.

An antiques and collectibles show and sale will be held from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at Vine Street Park.

From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., a quilt display will be held at the First Lutheran Church, Vine Street, along with a printing press demonstration at 214 E. Main St. An oil and charcoal portrait demonstration will be held in the West Newton Gym.

On Saturday, from 5 to 9 p.m., a Civil War Ball will be held and will feature a dinner buffet, baked chicken, barbecue beef, potatoes, beans, cole slaw, rolls, dessert, and drinks. The cost is $10 for adults and $6 for children under 12. Raffle drawings will take place in the West Newton gym, South Fifth Street.

Music will be presented by Echoes of Time of the Blue and Gray.

Church services will be held at 9 a.m. Sunday at Plummer House.

For more information, call (724) 872-0100 or send an e-mail .

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