News & Feature Articles Written About People & Places in Lake County, Ohio            

Civil War-era Lake County lives on

News-Herald, Willoughby Ohio
Published: Saturday, May 23, 2011

By Janet Podolak

Area residents can now step into the Civil War era at the Lake County History Center, where nearly 16,000 square feet of exhibit space have been transformed to give interactive experiences of those days 150 years ago.

The museum's collections, augmented by loans from collections of private folks, have been arrayed into rooms where a visitor can have a hands-on afternoon of life here in Lake County.

Instead of texting, attendees can tap out Morse code on an original telegraph key so someone sitting 40 feet away can get the message. They also can see for themselves how women wearing hoop skirts fit through doorways, compare an 1860s replica kitchen to modern day ones, see slave shackles and find out how the Underground Railroad worked.

Attendees also can step into a medical tent to see the implements actually used during the Civil War. The collection's surgical and examining tools from the collection of David LaMeill of Painesville are prominently displayed and, around the corner, while a film segment from the History Channel shows how Civil War injuries were addressed.

And, visitors can go through the recruitment process of the 7th Ohio Volunteer Infantry and read actual Civil War journals and letters from local boys to learn their stories. One room replicates a dress shop of the era, while a miniature general store from a local doll house collector is in another.

"Lots of the people really are fascinated with the Death and Mourning room," said Kathie Purmal executive director of the Historical Society.

Chandeliers, pictures and mirrors are draped in black, as a black-veiled widow and two children stand near a pine coffin.

One group of volunteers has worked to chronicle the names and service details of the nearly 1,700 local men who went off to fight in the Civil War. One in ten did not return.

"Those who want to research ancestors who may have fought in the Civil War can use our library," said Purmal. Visits are by appointment, but historical society membership is not required. Although General James A. Garfield and Captain Jack Casement were probably the best known of the Civil War soldiers from this area, Howell Treat from Painesville and Albert Clapp from Mentor both were Medal of Honor winners.

As the Historical Society gears up for its June 18 and June 19 Civil War encampment, its schedule will fill with special events related to the Civil War.

In fact, its annual June 19 Father's Day breakfast affords the opportunity to dine with costumed re-enactors.


"Lake County Remembers the Civil War"
Lake County History Center
415 Riverside Drive
Painesville Township
Hours: 1 to 4 Sunday; 10 am. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
Admission $3 adults; free for children
Details: 440-639-2945