By Brenda L. Holmes
DANVILLE — Anyone who drove through downtown Danville over weekend likely felt transported back through time as the Civil War Heritage Days were in full swing.
Several streets were closed off to vehicular traffic as the town square, library, government center, and other sites were transformed into a Civil War reenactor’s dream. This was the second year for the event.
“Overall, I think it’s going as planned,” said Cindy Rutledge, a member of the planning committee. “It’s been hard to see just how many people came out since it’s so spread out.”
The Hendricks County Museum was one of the main hubs of activity. It is on South Washington Street, which was closed off from Main Street all the way past the Hendricks County Government Center.
Downtown was filled with reenactors and demonstrators showing how Civil War era people lived, worked, and went to battle.
John Steepe of the Cool Creek Forge did blacksmith demonstrations.
“I’ve been at this 13 years and I’m starting to get pretty good at it,” he joked.
Steepe, along with all of the other demonstrators, spent time answering questions and showing exactly how hard people had to work during the Civil War.
Indianapolis resident Fred Schaefer is a reenactor who takes on the persona of Dr. William Henry Wishard, who was a Civil War physician.
“I’m really impressed with this event,” Schaefer said. “I really enjoy seeing people absorb the history.”
Diana Stevens did spinning demonstrations inside the Hendricks County Historical Museum. She uses wool from Hendricks County sheep and is the founder of the Hendricks County Fiber Guild. The guild meets monthly at the Hendricks County Senior Center.
Brownsburg photographer Wilbur Tague once again took on the role of President Abraham Lincoln. He spoke to the crowd in character from the main stage, telling about his upbringing and his plans for the country.
“These are violent times and dangerous times,” he said. “The North prays for victory. The South prays to the same God for victory. I pray that we can all come back together when this war is over.”
Rutledge said one of her favorite demonstrations came from Peggy Long who did a 30-minute program on quilt bed turning at the Danville Public Library.
“It was just wonderful,” she said. “A lot of people attended.”
She said Gary Vidito’s musical presentation was also very well received from the audience at the main stage.
“I think it was called, ‘A Nation Once More,’” Rutledge said. “He did Civil War songs from both the North and the South.”
This year the committee added a Grand Ball for reenactors and members of the public who wanted to get dressed up and dance to some banjo music. The band providing the music was Hogeye Navvy out of Indianapolis. Band members are Johnandrew Bellner on banjo, Deb Sheebish on fiddle, Mac Bellner on guitar, and Garry Farren on Irish bodhran.
Committee member Tracy Whetstone said planning the event was quite an undertaking.
“We’ve been planning this for 365 days,” she said. “Just about since the day it was over last year.”
The committee is made up of Rutledge, Whetstone, Gail Tharp, Jeff Baldwin, Betty Bartley, Charles Dolder, Tracy Jones, Laura Parker, John Parsons, Sheila Richardville, Jaime Simek, Steve Smith, Mindy Tuceryan, and Sue Wood. There were also a large number of volunteers who put in countless hours help pull off the event.