Area Nonprofits Help Region Mark Civil War
Hartford — Summertime is traveling time, but in the rush to get out, it’s easy to overlook nearby treasures.
For those who have been meaning to check out local historic sites, “we are giving them the excuse to go this summer,” said Laura Dintino, Valley Quest local program coordinator.
To mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, two nonprofits have created a puzzle that explores local connections to the war. Flow of History, which provides professional development for history teachers, and Valley Quest, part of Vital Communities, completed the Civil War Super Quest this spring.
The quest spans a dozen historic sites in the Upper Valley. At each stop, questers use clues to track down a specific detail, such as a historical fact or the name of a certain tree. The words are used to complete a crossword puzzle.
The journey includes River Street Cemetery in Woodstock, Soldiers’ Memorial Building in Lebanon and the American Precision Museum in Windsor. Information about the sites is available online, but nothing beats being there, organizers say.
“If you actually physically go there, you get more of a sense of the contribution that New Hampshire and Vermont made in the Civil War,” Dintino said. The quest can be completed by groups or individuals, and about 15 teams have already signed up.
Local students and teachers are also taking part in the commemoration.
A forestry class at Hartford Career and Technical Center will plant a tree in Hartford Cemetery, where about 100 Civil War veterans are buried, Dintino said. The idea was inspired by the Living Legacy Project, part of The Journey Through Hallowed Ground. The Virginia-based program aims to plant 620,000 trees, one for every soldier who died in the Civil War.
Sarah Rooker, director of Flow of History, is working with local teachers and students on original research about local Civil War soldiers. The project is part of curriculum designed last year at a summer institute for teachers led by Flow of History, Valley Quest and the Thetford-based Poetics of Place. The resulting biographies, which Rooker calls “the virtual component of the quest,” will be available later this month at civilwarcache.org and Valley Quest’s website.
Students at Richmond Middle School, Westshire Elementary School and Hartford Memorial Middle School are creating the “soldiers stories,” either in the form of writing or video.
Many of the Hartford soldiers were at Gettysburg, said Rooker, who will travel there with several Hartford students and their teacher, Jennifer Boeri-Boyce, for a conference later this month.
At Gettysburg, the students will geotag a “witness tree,” which still stands at the site of Seminary Hospital on the battleground. The tag will allow visitors to read the stories written about the Upper Valley.
The geotagging, part of the Living Legacy Project, will help create a “virtual healing or connection between North and South,” Rooker said, and also recognize the “sort of unknown soldiers who have sort of been lost to the past.”
While nearly all of the action took place in the South, the Twin States were deeply affected by the war. One of every nine Vermonters fought, and by the time the war ended in 1865, more than 5,224 had died from wounds and illnesses, according to the Vermont Civil War Sesquicentennial website. In New Hampshire, the numbers were similar.
Around 33,000 residents, a tenth of the state’s population, served during the war. About 4,300 died, and almost 1,600 were never accounted for, according to the state’s Department of Cultural Resources.
To register and download the quest, go to www.vitalcommunities.org/valleyquest.
Those who complete it by Nov. 1 will earn a commemorative patch and be entered into a drawing for four free passes to Hildene in Manchester and a gift certificate to a nearby restaurant.
Here are some upcoming Civil War anniversary events:
∎ May 17, Hartford Cemetery, White River Junction. Hartford Memorial Middle School students will read from their original biographies of local Civil War veterans and dedicate a tree to those buried in the cemetery.
∎ May 27, Soldiers Memorial Building, Lebanon. The building will open for visitors at 10 a.m. This year, displays will include a scroll containing the names of Lebanon soldiers who served in the Civil War but were not included in the original building dedication.
∎ June 8, Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, Woodstock. Still in the planning stages, this event will include a Civil War walking tour.
∎ Aug. 10, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, Cornish. Commemoration of the Shaw Memorial, which honors Col. Robert Gould Shaw, leader of the first African-American regiment in the North.