Archived Story

Civil War exhibit connects county residents with its forefathers

Published 11:12am Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Monday was the start of a busy week of preparation at the Otter Tail County Historical Society. Friday marks the opening of the museum’s new temporary exhibit, Veterans of the Civil War. The exhibit will highlight veterans of the war who were connected with Otter Tail County and instrumental in forming the area as we know it today.

“Many of them were officials in our county government,” said Kathy Evavold, the museum’s curator of collections. “I think they were respected, so that allowed them to hold offices and positions of high regard and influence.”

From businessmen to homesteaders, the exhibit will feature 21 of the more than 1,000 stories of men originally from a number of states who came west after the end of the war. The exhibit will display what life was like for soldiers, including a recreated tent site that would have been used during the war.

While war experiences are typical for Civil War displays, the staff has expanded the exhibit to focus on life after the war.

An 11-by-16-foot wall map will display homesteads and other lands that the Civil War veterans owned. The exhibit also brings together more than 85 photos and a number of artifacts that were used by men in the war.

Altogether, the experience should give visitors a better understanding of such an important time period in the country’s and the county’s history.

“In their work with their townships, school boards and churches, these men were very involved,” said Chris Schuelke, the society’s executive director. “They had a sense that this was uncharted territory. I think they realized they were here building something, not just for themselves but for the larger community.”

The exhibit is the culmination of research that has stretched nearly 10 years, collected after research assistant Vicky Anderson voiced her desire to record the interesting lives of the era’s veterans. County Attorney David Hauser will read excerpts from the journal of E. E. Corliss, the first county attorney in Otter Tail County who was instrumental in moving the county seat from Ottertail to Fergus Falls. Corliss was also a Civil War veteran and one of the men highlighted in the exhibit.

The exhibit will begin with an open house from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday at the Laura Pullap Room. A program with the exhibit starts at 6 p.m.

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