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Orange Empire Railway Museum ~ACWS Civil War Reenactment

Happenings around the Township OERM Perris 2004

Thank you everyone for a very successful Township at the Orange Empire Railroad Museum. Townsfolk were gracious about their planned sites and helped me tremendously in my inaugural weekend as “Town Planner.” I appreciate you all and thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your kindness and support. A very special thanks to the Louisiana Tigers and especially to Mr. Tom Killian who makes THE BEST CAMP COFFEE IN THE WORLD, without which I wouldn’t have made it to a single event! Tigers – you were a complete blessing! Thank you!

Now for some happenings around the Township……

With the battle of Winchester being fought, the folks of the Township decided to portray a border town – one with sympathizers from both sides of the war. This worked out beautifully and reinforces our standing message, EVERYONE is welcome in our town and we are here to support both armies, the reeanctors, and the public! With Philip Gallanders enthusiastic support coupled with Wendy Atkins passionate ideas, we tried to add a civilian reaction as we watched two armies invading our Township. We did not want anyone stealing our chickens, butchering our hogs, taking milk from our children and burning down our fences, so the women of the Township marched on Major Harriott and demanded that he leave our town with his forces, and leave our property intact. About a dozen women and children were caught in the Town, in the midst of battle and had to sweat it out until it was over. We got to see the roar of battle and the rush of adrenaline up close – interesting view for the civilians used to the safety of the side lines! Our reenacting armies get pretty intense.

Each successive battle, a squadron of womenfolk and children tried to prevent the armies from invading, giving the crowd a taste of the frustration that women felt, left behind, defending their homes from continuous army infestation. Winchester was invades 52 times, and it was all too much for the ladies of the Township as they expressed their desire for no more army infestation of either side, quite vehemently to commanders and troops. (A huge thank you to the armies for playing along so well with us – we felt rather silly and were terrified we were in the way, you were great sports!)

At the end of the battles, the ladies and children of the Township thanked the men for fighting (okay, so that was a bit schizophrenic!) and threw flowers to the cavalry unit marching through town astride their horses (the one moment I did not have a camera!) Young ladies sung “Union Forever” or “Dixie” depending on their loyalties, as the armies marched tiredly past and everyone was happy to see “their” army had fought valiantly and lived to see another day.

Other happenings you might have seen in the Township….

Saturday began with a lovely brunch and fashion show for the reenactors put on by the Harvey Girls, Civilizers of the West. It was a rare and precious treat for someone to serve US, and a delight to hear the story of other reeanctors! The women of the Township could not have been happier.

Tiffany Williams, of the Benevolent Aid Society, finished hand stitching her beautiful period authentic quilt on Saturday. She just has to apply a binding and it will be done. Tiffany pieced it with a hand crank sewing machine, then stretched it out on a frame and has spent hours stitching it patiently at events for the past year. It is just the quilt that every soldier needs for his bedroll. This quilt was made to support Civil War Battlefield Preservation projects and all proceeds will be donated. She hopes to send a large check, so please visit her in the Township and purchase an opportunity to win this great quilt. 1 ticket is $3.00 and 2 tickets are $5.00. Tiffany will raffle the quilt at Huntington Beach at the end of summer, so there is plenty of time left. Support her noble effort; she was hoping for $300, lets help her get to $500 for the cause!

ACWS Head Nurse Catherine Elliot traded her rolled bandages in for a washboard and soap with a top notch washer woman impression at OERM. She was the hit of the township doing laundry, mending and passing out pickles. She was still able to do some nursing, but when the battles were over, she was back in the shade of the Township. It was a delight for all the townspeople to get to know her better, since she is always out on the field, and we are threatening to steal her permanently for our town.

The Ladies Aid Society run by Joyce Bolin was alive and well, hosting many folks graciously in her comfortable “parlor.” She generously let fashion show participants lounge under her fly, as they waited for our Fashion Hostess Sue Walters to call them up and show their lovely frocks to the crowd. Joyce began a second large book full of signatures, prayers, thanks and goodwill wishes to support our Marines fighting in Iraq. (Thank you for doing this!) Joyce is also selling opportunity tickets for a beautiful vintage quilt, (perfect for reeanctors!) generously donating all proceeds to benefit the Civilian Corps Trailer fund.

The Widow Peters continues to try and support herself and the war effort after the loss of her dear husband, running the Kansas Mercantile and the Reenactors Swapmeet. Treasures abound at the Widow Peters fine establishment; you never know what she will come across and offer the townsfolk next. She has a new line of Truly Victorian patterns that many of the ladies are using to make new gowns. Truly Victorian patterns work well for any figure, and are easy to fit into proper period style and trim in a variety of fashions. Word has it she will be arranging another corset class, watch the Yahoo list for more information.

Michele and Lynn Hamilton, new civilians in the Township have done a tremendous job as the new hostesses of the Ladies Tea providing the ladies of the Township with a respite from the heat in the cool air conditioned Town Hall at OERM. The cool air was a wonderful treat after the blistering sun, almost as good as the homemade delicacies. Three young ladies from our township had birthdays, so we sang “Happy Birthday” to Kimberly Fickas, Krista Baughn, and Michelle Hamilton and ate a delightful cake along with our tea goodies. Miss Barbara Berbach did a reading on etiquette for the ladies. Marion Weiler brought fans to sell for our Civilian Corps Fundraising efforts, and the ladies happily purchased fans to cool themselves with.

The excitement of Saturday was tempered with the knowledge that Ken and Nancy Guinn are “retiring” from their positions as ACWS Board Members. While they leave the board, they will still be reenacting and Ken will continue to be General Grant. In honor of their decade of service, Mary Copeland threw a wonderful party for them, toasting them with champagne and cake. Paul De Nubilo was welcomed in as our new ACWS President and another round of toasts were given in his honor. It was a heartfelt thanks for a couple that have done so much for the ACWS ushering membership from less than 100 to well over 700. Ken and Nancy – we appreciate you! They were honored with a scrapbook signed by dozens of reenactors, filled with pictures and well wishes, thanking them profusely for their time and dedication over the years. We are eternally grateful for all they have done.

At the party, Lynda Jaharis, our dear Mayor and Civilian Director also had a tearful goodbye for daughter Athena, who will be going off to college in August. We are so proud of Athena, she was accepted into Baylor University, in Waco, TX., and will begin a history program. Incidentally, Baylor is period correct, having been chartered in 1845. OERM was Athena’s last official ACWS event, and another cake was made in her honor as well. We will miss you greatly Miss Athena, thank you for your many years of service in the ACWS!

Saturday Evening Events…..

After the goodbye’s were said, the toasts and cake finished, people mulled around for a bit before the evenings activities began. The Cock and Pullet was in full swing before long, earning money for the preservation of Camp Moore in Louisiana, the last “Camp of Instruction” from the war. Miss Kelly, a 14 year old reenactor, called a dance for the young folks with CD’s of period music. Miss Kelly did an excellent job as caller and kept the young folks dancing for quite some time.

The dance ended as the Widow Peters organized a temperance raid on the Cock and Pullet and enlisted the help of all around. Pans and spoons were brought forth from the Kansas Mercantile and the people of the Township joined forces to bring down the evil brewing at the Cock and Pullet. The posse marched through Confederate territory gaining strength, adding more on the trek through Union country before confronting the revelers at the pub and attempting to temper the evening’s activities.

Afterwards, the exhausted Townsfolk dragged home, to start it all up again early Sunday morning with church service!

I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse of portions of this weekend that you may have missed. It would be fun to see swatches from all over the event. Our thanks to everyone who participated to make the Township at OERM a roaring success and to all who did much and were not mentioned. Thank you, thank you!

Upward and Onward Lisa Baughn