Abe Lincoln & the Father of the Underground Railroad

April 11th, 2013

lincoln thumbIf the popularity of last years’ movie, Lincoln, and the academy-award winning performance by Daniel Day Lewis are any indications, Abraham Lincoln continues to fascinate and enthrall as America’s favorite president. From childhood we learned about his humble upbringing in a log cabin, his determination to educate himself and his willingness defend his beliefs. His stove-top hat is iconic and instantly recognized.

We hope you’ll join us for a living history presentation by Jim Getty, America’s foremost Lincoln impersonator on Saturday, April 13, 1pm at the Elkton Central Library. You’ll witness President Lincoln recount his recollections from youth and his political life. Take the opportunity to ask the president those questions you’ve always been curious about!

If this era of American history fascinates you, you’ll also love Syl Woolford’s lecture on William Still, the “father of the underground railroad,” on Thursday, April 18, 7pm at the Elkton Central Library. William Still, an African American abolitionist was born in 1821, just four years before slavery was abolished in the British Empire. It would take forty-two more years before American slaves would be emancipated by Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863. During his life-time, William Still worked tirelessly in the Philadelphia anti-slavery movement. Ten years after emancipation, Mr. Still published a definitive work titled “The Underground Railroad.”  This local, historical figure made a signifigant impact in the Philiadlephia area. For a timeline that compares Philadelphia with the National stage, click here.

What question would you ask Mr. Lincoln or Mr. Still?

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Civil War Legends & Lore

October 12th, 2011

Most of us know the “greater story” of the Civil War—the battles, the politics, the leaders. We’ve heard of Grant and Lee, Gettysburg and Antietam, Abe Lincoln and Jeff Davis. But it’s the “little stories”—the quirky ones about

people and events—that make this time period so fascinating even today. Some of these tales of Civil War legend and lore are funny, some sad, but they all bring a very human side to the war 150 years later.

These stories will be the focus of “Civil War Legends and Lore” at  7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18, at the Perryville Branch Library. We’ll classify these stories as “legends and lore” because local tradition and folklore have filled in the blanks between the known facts.

Our region has no shortage of Civil War legends and lore, much of it spiced up by the fact that Cecil County residents had divided loyalties. Maryland itself was a border state, even though it is located south of the Mason-Dixon Line. In Cecil County and the rest of Maryland some were fiercely pro-Union; others were pro-Confederate to the point that they fled South to take up arms against the United States. Once war was declared, Cecil Countians for the most part supported the Union and its new president, even if they hadn’t necessarily voted for him.


– How “mule skinners” took over the mansion and grounds at Perry Point, where the owners were pro-southern. The owners complained that Yankee officers banged up the elegant staircase with their swords.
– The C&D Canal played a huge role in the early days of the war, enabling Lincoln to bring loyal troops from “up north” to occupy Maryland after Federal troops traveling by train were attacked in Baltimore. The nervous canal superintendent in Chesapeake City constantly feared attacks by Confederate raiders.
– George Alfred Townsend spent his summers as a boy in Cecil County. The war made him famous as an Anderson Cooper-type newsman of his day who went on to be friends with Mark Twain. We’ll take a look at a story he wrote with a touch of dark humor about the topic of undertakers making their fortune after the battle of Antietam.
– A newspaper editor whose pro-Southern editorial got him marched out of town at bayonet point by Union troops and locked up in Fort McHenry.
– A Civil War romance that started when a Chesapeake City girl met a captured Confederate officer on his way to the prisoner of war camp at Fort Delaware.

As divided and cantankerous as the two sides could be here in Cecil County, one of the impressions that stands out is how people seemed to have put aside their differences after the war. It’s a lesson that shouldn’t be lost on us today as we struggle through difficult, sometimes divisive times of our own.

Interested in more Civil War programs? Make sure to check out the complete list of upcoming programs.

Have you heard Civil War legends about Cecil County? Share them with us by commenting below and we hope to see you at the program.

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