By Wade Linville – News Democrat
People from near and far ventured to Georgetown on April 23 to celebrate an important part of American history.
The calling was the 20th annual U.S. Grant Days’ Celebration, and this year’s Grant Days proved to be a great success with festivities to entertain and educate people of all ages.
For children, activities such as a chalk drawing contest with awards handed out by Georgetown’s famous artist, John Ruthven and an 1800s magic show performed by Professor Faris attracted a number of young attendees, while adults enjoyed the Civil War antique displays, tours of Grant’s boyhood home, good food, live period-appropriate musical entertainment, Civil War soldier attire worn by many, and great presentations on Grant and the Civil War given by local historians.
Brenda McClanahan and her granddaughter Tallie Ann, of West Union, made their way to U.S. Grant’s Boyhood Home in Georgetown for their first Grant Days’ Celebration.
“We’re really enjoying it. My granddaughter is really interested in the Civil War, so we were excited to come,” said Brenda McClanahan. “We’ve heard some period music, got some pictures, and looked at some outfits.
For the first year of the Grant Days celebration, Dr. Curt Fields would portray the late General and 18th United States President U.S. Grant himself.
Dr. Fields, a career educator and former history teacher, has been portraying U.S. Grant for the past several years at various historic events and presentations.
He shares a very close resemblance to U.S. Grant and possesses a vast amount of knowledge on Civil War history. His wife Lena would portray Mrs. Grant for the event, helping to celebrate the life and legacy of Ulysses S. Grant.
Local historian and U.S. Grant Homestead Association member Ned Lodwick once again played a huge role in coordinating the Grant Day’s Celebration.
Lodwick helped kick off this year’s event with his presentation “The Fighting 59th OVI” at the Georgetown United Methodist Church on Thursday, April 21.
“On November 6, 1860 Abraham Lincoln is elected President of the United States but Stephan Douglas carries the vote in Brown County. The Confederates fire on Ft. Sumter on April 12, 1861 and the ‘Patriotic Fever’ of Brown County’s young men is lit,” Lodwick said in his presentation. “Their grandfathers were the fire that fought in the revolution, their fathers were the anvil that would hold the metal of this country that formed during the War of 1812, and these sons of Brown County will be the hammer of freedom that would ring out during the Civil War. President Lincoln called for 90,000 volunteers and Ohio and Brown County responded. Ohio had 90,000 volunteers in 1 week. All but 15,000 were sent home. Ohio’s quota was filled. The War was expected to last only 90 days but soon the Government realized that the reality was very different. By August 300,000 more troops were needed and to serve for not 90 days but for 3 years. On September 12, 1861 the 59th Ohio Volunteer Infantry was mustered into the Federal Service at Camp Ripley. Col. James Fyffe was in command of the Regiment. Companies C and D were from Brown County and the other eight companies from Clermont.”
Lodwick was also the guide for the history walk to begin Saturday’s celebration and later worked in a display tent outside the Grant home explaining the details behind Civil War artifacts.
In the Living History Tent just outside of the Grant home, crowds of people gathered to listen to Curt Fields’ presentation “How U.S. Grant Became a Lieutenant General?”
Georgetown historian Mike Miller followed with his entertaining and educational presentation “Ulysses’ Last Battle”.
Also in the Living History Tent was Rob Curtis’ presentation “Sherman’s March to the Sea”.
Stan Purdy, a U.S. Grant and Civil War enthusiast who has played a huge role in helping to keep the Grant Day’s Celebration alive over the past two decades, was pleased with the large turnout on Saturday, April 23.
Age-group winners of the children’s chalk drawing were Isaac Rankin, Holden Staggs, Caleb Rankin, William Moye, Adam Proulx, Isaac Proulx, Nicholas Schell, Landon Kirschner, and Cheyenne Schell.
Caleb Rankin and William Moye won Best of Show.
After the impressive Period Magic Show by Professor Faris, the Civil War Revue Band kept the crowds coming to the Living History Tent.
Wrapping up the activities in the Living History Tent was the Memorial to the Brown County Civil War Soldiers.
For those who attended the 20th annual U.S. Grant Days’ Celebration, it was day in which mother nature would cooperate to provide bright sun and blue skies as they took a trip back in time to learn more about U.S. Grant himself, life in the 1800s, and one of the most significant wars in this nation’s history.