The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Civil War 150th Anniversary

June 2, 2011

Society sews up period fashion show, dinner

JOHNSTOWN —  Period clothing from uniforms to ball gowns will be modeled to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

A Civil War fashion show and dinner, “From the Homefront to the Battlefield,” will be held at 6 p.m. June 11 at the Friedens Lutheran Church, 131 S. Main St.

Mark Ware, site administrator of the Historical and Genealogical Society of Somerset County Inc., said Civil War re-enactors have been asked to supply clothing for the show, which is being held at the church because of space limitations at the historical center.

“We chose to do this now as a fundraiser because it’s the start of the 150th anniversary celebration for the Civil War,” Ware said. “The re-enactors have done research and sewn the historical clothing.

“I’ve learned not to call them costumes. They’re all reproduced, not the original, due to the historical value.

“We’ll address the civilian side with everyday and fancy dress as well as uniforms. It will be a broad range of fashion. Guests can get immersed in the Civil War.”

Katie Cordek, educational coordinator for the historical society, said the meal will be typical food that would have been eaten during the Civil War period.

“It’s documented to be authentic and will be catered by the Pine Grill,” she said. “Chef Laurie Noll will be making a Civil War era dessert that’s going to be a surprise.”

Cordek emphasized that the fashion show, which will follow dinner, is not just for women.

An array of Confederate and Union uniforms will be modeled by the re-enactors.

“It’s not just blue and gray,” Cordek said. “It’s not that simple.

“Officers sometimes bought their own uniforms, which had a finer weave fabric, which lasted better.”

North and South made their own uniforms, some dyed with butternuts.

“Some uniforms looked bluish or brown,” Cordek said. “People were passionate about the cause and did not hesitate to make them.”

Cordek, a re-enactor, previously belonged to the 54th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry and Civilians and other Civil War re-enactment groups, then switched to the French and Indian period for a time.

“I want to get back into the Civil War for the 150th,” she said.

When re-enactors sew the historical dresses and uniforms, the type of fabric and embellishments used is documented.

They are labor-intensive to make, even with today’s machines, she said.

“It’s not just fashion, but what they wore every day,” Cordek said.

“From 1861 to 1865, that changed.”

A mannequin will be used to show the eight to nine layers of undergarments women wore, and men will model uniforms in full gear, including what would have been carried into battle.

One of the questions Cordek and other re-enactors often get asked is, “Are you hot?”

“Natural fibers breathe better,” Cordek said.

A new exhibit, “The Frosty Sons of Thunder: The Civil War in Somerset County,” will have a soft opening at the center on June 11.

Civil War related artifacts from Somerset County soldiers will be on display along with journals and documents from that era.

“We’re working on getting artifacts,” Cordek said. “We have a cartridge box on loan from a Somerset County veteran who fought in the Civil War and the Mexican War.”

The exhibit will open again when “Pa. Civil War 150 Road Show,” a multidimensional traveling exhibit, stops at the center Aug. 26-28.

“The trailer will hit all 67 counties in the four-year anniversary period,” Cordek said. “We were lucky to get it first.”

The exhibit will feature everything from Gettysburg to the untold story of an 1860 explosion that injured and killed nonmilitary personnel.

There also will be a lecture series and on-site encampment of Civil War re-enactment groups while the exhibit is on display.

Advance reservations are required for the dinner and show.

No tickets will be sold at the door, but tickets will be available up to the day of the event.

Ticket purchase includes free admission to the Civil War exhibit at the historical center.


What: “From the Homefront to the Battlefield,” Civil War fashion show and dinner.

Where: Friedens Lutheran Church, 131 S. Main St., Friedens.

When: 6 p.m. June 11.

Cost: $30 per person, $55 per couple.

Information: 445-6077.


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