Saturday, April 2, 2011

Civil War Heritage in Schenectady

Are you interested in the Civil War? 2011 is the  150th anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War and the Grems-Doolittle Library has several resources which are available for you to learn more about one of American history’s most tragic periods.
Did you know that Schenectady had a local man present at the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in Ford’s theater? Charles Lewis, a local boy and student at Union College, joined the 119th New York in 1862 and was involved in several of the key battles of the war before moving to Washington D.C. in 1865. After Lincoln’s death, Lewis came back to Schenectady with his wife and carried out the rest of his days locally. He is buried in the Union College Plot at Vale Cemetery, alongside his father who was a professor. We are lucky to know so much about Charles because here at the Grems-Doolittle library we have his Civil War diary among our collections. Charles’s experiences were also the subject of historian Larry Hart’s book, Through the Darkest Hour and copies are on sale in the Society gift shop.
The story of Charles Lewis’s Civil War experiences is remarkable, but his is only one of the many local stories linked to the war and Schenectady in the 1860s. To unlock more about Schenectady in the antebellum and war years visit the Grems-Doolittle library. With a bit of digging in our files who knows what you might find?
Also, if you are looking for a way to interact with the Civil War please attend the Civil War Living History Day held by the Schenectady County Historical Society at the Mabee Farm Historic Site on April 16th 10am-4pm. This event is free to the public and will include music, re-enactments, drilling, cannon and horse demonstrations as well as several guest speakers. For more information please contact Ryan Mahoney at or by phone at 374-0263

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