‘Boys in Blue’

Staff Writer
Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, “Boys in Blue” is an opportunity for visitors to the Auglaize County Fair to learn more about their local Civil War heroes.
The exhibit, located at the Gary Log House historical site at the fairgrounds, gives locals a chance to interact with historical artifacts and view photographs and biographies of people who lived during the Civil War.
“A lot of people try to picture what this town was like during that time,” Lisa Lowry, from the Cridersville Historical Society, said. “This helps give people an idea of what it was like for the soldiers.”
Lowry volunteered Tuesday to share her knowledge on the Civil War and the items from the “Boys in Blue” display. She said the reason people become interested in history is the question of “what would life be like” living in that time.
The Ohio Historical Society loaned their reproduction artifacts to Auglaize Historical Society to help people understand the kind of life a Civil War soldier lived. Personal belongings and items that would have been given to soldiers in the war were on display.
A military handbook, which would have been given out to the soldiers, contains information about what to do in the very real, dire situations a soldier may have been put in. How to cook certain foods and how to dress a wound were a few of the many suggestions in the book, which is able to be read at the exhibit.
A U.S. tarred haversack to hold belongings, a wallet with “tin type” photographs inside, Henry Otis Dwight’s sketchbook, a tooth brush made from horse hair, along with other reproductions of artifacts were on display.
Photographs of the soldiers in their youth and adulthood, along with personal biographies are hung on the walls of the log house. The biographies are about local soldiers from Minster, Waynesfield, Wapakoneta, New Knoxville, St. Mary’s and Lima.
Connie Yahl of St. Mary’s said she comes to the Gary Log house display because she is interested in the history.
“I come to the fair once a year to see what they have going on,” Yahl said.
Yahl said she was surprised to learn how many Civil War soldiers came from New Knoxville.
According to the display, most of the soldiers in the area came from the east end of New Knoxville, and 22 are buried at the Olive Branch Cemetery.
Photographs dating many gravestones during the Civil War time are displayed, along with information about many of the fallen heroes.
The biographies of the veterans who survived the war are just as compelling, including a letter from Elsie Tester from 1898 depicting her grandfather, Jacob Ruck, a Civil War veteran.
In the letter she remembered her grandfather as having a “big, leather chair” and loving the song “Marching Through Georgia” on the piano.
The Civil War exhibit is not the only draw to the historical site, Lowry said. The Gary Log House itself is one of the main historical attractions in the area. Photographs of the house through the years are able to be viewed.
“Being able to see the bark on the wood — people don’t have to imagine,” Lowry said. “This makes it real.”