WHS to host Civil War program on March 26

By Neal A. Johnson, UD Editor
Posted 3/15/23

WESTPHALIA  — Make plans to enjoy a full slate of activities on March 26 as the Westphalia Historical Society presents “The Civil War in Osage County.”

In honor of the 50th …

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WHS to host Civil War program on March 26


WESTPHALIA  — Make plans to enjoy a full slate of activities on March 26 as the Westphalia Historical Society presents “The Civil War in Osage County.”

In honor of the 50th anniversary, this free event will lead into the WHS annual meeting.

Step back in time to learn how Osage County and Westphalia experienced the war between the states through local historical re-enactors and Civil War artifact displays. The event will be held against the backdrop of an original log cabin on the grounds of the WHS Museum located at 119 E. Main Street.

Beginning at 1 p.m., visitors are welcome to tour the museum and log cabin, view artifact displays, and meet and greet historians, re-enactors, and local author Michelle Brooks.

From 2-3, a Civil War history presentation on the steps of the WHS log cabin will include Gov. Hamilton Rowan Gamble (1861-64) – portrayed by Jefferson City attorney Stephen Stark – who will address citizens of Missouri on the Civil War.

Gamble was an American jurist and politician who served as the Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court at the time of the Dred Scott case in 1852. Although his colleagues voted to overturn the 28-year precedent in Missouri of “once free, always free,” Gamble wrote a dissenting opinion.

During the Civil War, he was appointed governor of Missouri by a Constitutional Convention after Union forces captured the state capital at Jefferson City and deposed elected governor Claiborne Jackson.

President Abraham Lincoln – portrayed by Mark Rehagen of Jefferson City – will converse with Gov. Gamble about the war.

Union Army Telegrapher William Morlock – portrayed by Sam Bushman – will speak about the Civil War in Osage County, specifically, Westphalia, and describe the passage of General Sterling Price through Westphalia in October 1864, and give a roll call of soldiers from Westphalia and their personal stories.

Price, a Missouri native, served as governor from 1853 to 1857. During his tenure, Washington University in St. Louis was established, the state’s public school system was restructured, the Missouri State Teachers Association was created, the state’s railroad network was expanded, and a state geological survey was created.

Gen. Price was initially a public supporter of the Union. He backed Stephen A. Douglas for president in 1860. When the states of the Deep South seceded and formed the Confederate States of America, Price opposed secession by Missouri. He was elected presiding officer of the Missouri Constitutional Convention of 1861–1863 on Feb. 28, 1861, which voted against the state leaving the Union. In private, however, Price conspired with pro-Confederate Gov. Claiborne Jackson to arm the state’s militia with Confederate weapons so they could seize the St. Louis Arsenal and thereby gain control of the city and the state. The plot was foiled in May 1861 when Federal forces under Capt. Nathaniel Lyon seized the militia’s Camp Jackson near St. Louis, where Confederate weapons had been delivered. No longer able to hide his private support and using the Federal action as justification, Price gave his public support to the secessionists and joined in requests for the Confederacy to occupy the state.

Bushman will describe Price’s march through the Westphalia area.

From 3-4, museum tours and log cabin tours will resume, where visitors can view artifact displays and meet and greet speakers and re-enactors.

Local historian and author Michelle Brooks will offer a book signing with books available for purchase.

The Westphalia Historical Society was formed in 1973.

WHS VP Shelly Herzing, who spent a lot of time working on the event with former board officer Mary Ann Klebba, encourages everyone to learn more about Westphalia.

“The museum is open on Sunday afternoons (May-October 1-3pm), but we will also open for private viewings and gatherings for private groups and family reunions on request,” said Herzing, noting the new interactive video board is a great addition. “We have videos playing with various Westphalia historical photos and interviews of local people telling their stories, including veterans sharing their experiences.”

The museum is open from May through October.

Klebba added the restored log cabin behind the museum is also an option for families or groups that want to picnic or gather for whatever reason.

At 4 p.m., the annual WHS meeting will be held at the Towne Club. A chicken and ham buffet meal ($12) will be offered starting at 5. WHS members are encouraged and welcome to attend the Civil War event and annual meeting. Those wanting to learn more about WHS  and become new members are also welcome to attend. Please email WHS65085@yahoo.com to RSVP attendance of meeting and meal.   

Membership is a priority for WHS. “We welcome anyone who wants to help preserve history and promote Westphalia,” said Herzing, noting that attendees will have the opportunity to join WHS on March 26 and can purchase walking tour and history book from WHS.

Current board officers are President Kevin Huber, VP Shelly Herzing, Secretary Mary Corey, Treasurer Jane Massman, and members are Jeanine Bock, Mary Rakestraw, and Jordan Luebbert.

Klebba has phased out of her previous officer role. She takes care of the WHS Facebook page, which has nearly 4,000 followers, posts pictures daily, and handles most museum visit inquiries and history research.

An individual can join WHS for $20 per year; a family membership is $30 annually. Join by mailing fee to PO Box 244, Westphalia, MO, 65085, or Venmo payment to @WHS65085.


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