Eldersburg Library program brings Civil War to life

The Eldersburg branch of the Carroll Public Library system celebrated the opening of its temporary Civil War 150 exhibition with a special guest appearance last week.

A performance by Kent Courtney, a Pennsylvania entertainer/historian specializing in the Civil War, marked the arrival of the traveling panel exhibit organized by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in partnership with The Library of America. The exhibition featuring excerpts from original documents, images and texts will be on display at the library, at 6400 W. Hemlock Drive, through Feb. 24.

The library will also offer numerous programs about the Civil War throughout the month.

As of Feb. 5, however, the program, "John Brown: The Man Who Fired the First Shots of the Civil War," scheduled for Feb. 10 at 7 p.m., had been postponed because of weather concerns.

While an ice storm left many in the county without power, closed schools and forced the Eldersburg branch to delay its usual 9 a.m. opening on Feb. 5 until 2 p.m., Courtney's appearance was not affected.

Dressed in a simple wool uniform, Courtney played several instruments and led several sing-alongs. All the while, he provided little tidbits of history that were both informative and amusing.

"This was called a mucket for mug and bucket," he said as he held up a container."It was great for cooking, pouring or to make coffee using a sock as a filter. You would clean the sock, too."

To evoke the feeling of a soldiers' camp at night, Courtney had the lights turned off while he played a sorrowful tune with two recorders.

Sitting in the front row, Ashley Demay was thrilled with the event on Wednesday.

"I would say learning about the Civil War is a hobby," the 13-year-old Eldersburg resident said. "I've been interested in the Civil War since I was 7. He's (Courtney) incredibly accurate from what I know."

Karen Dulany, of Eldersburg, was impressed with the program, too.

"I think it is great," Dulany said. "I was impressed by how many different instruments he was able to play and I like all the details he knows. He is not just a performer. He has a lot of information to share."

Though he wasn't aware of the Civil War 150 programs until Wednesday evening, Wayne Reisberg was planning to attend more when the evening was over.

"I'll try to make as many as I can," the Marriottsville resident said. "I've enjoyed ... the blend of the music with the history."

The Edersburg branch is one of 50 libraries and historical societies across the nation that applied and were chosen to host the exhibit.

"We were so excited when we got it," said Nadine Rosendale, branch manager. "We were particularly interested in the Civil War, because there is a lot of interest in the community."

The branch plans a variety of programs to illustrate different aspects of the war, including medicine, music and children's games of the era.

"We really try to present a broad range of programs,' said Lisa Picker, communications manager for Carroll County Public Library. "We are looking at the war in different ways to appeal to you in a different way than thought of."

While not part of the Civil War 150 exhibit, a book discussion program, "Making Sense of the American Civil War," is also being hosted by the library system.

The discussions by local scholars on various themes regarding the Civil War started in January. Dates and times vary for the discussions. The sessions are held at Carroll Lutheran Village or Fairhaven. The final discussion is March 8 at Carroll Community College.

"There had been some interest at both (Carroll Lutheran and Fairhaven) to partner with the library," Picker said on offering the events at the senior residence facilities. "We support lifelong learning. It is a great opportunity to go into the community and offer these events. It is a good fit."

For a complete list of dates and times for the Civil War 150's nine programs, go to library.carr.org.

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