"Historic Highlights" for Gilford Steamer's 8 July 2004 issue

Civil War -- theme of display and program

"First Lady -- Mary Todd Lincoln -- An Unconventional Woman" will be portrayed by Sally Mummey on Monday evening, July 12th on the back lawn of Gilford Village’s Rowe House, at 88 Belknap Mountain Road.

Thompson-Ames Historical Society invites the public as well as members of Gilford’s historical society to bring a favorite potluck dish to contribute to the Civil War theme get-together which will begin at 6:00 pm. Beverages and dessert will be provided by T-AHS.

Historically, Mary Todd Lincoln was not limited by the narrow confines of the Victorian world. We turn to Sally Mummey’ s comments for an in-depth explanation.

"Within a period when a woman’s role was defined by marriage and motherhood, Mrs. Lincoln was considered an equal in the company of well-educated men. With her wits, she battled senators, diplomats, generals, and scholars to a standstill while her own brothers fought against the same Union that her husband was so valiantly trying to save. Her ambition and drive, exposed through an outspoken manner, sometimes provoked disdain from her husband’s Cabinet and Washington’s social elite," we learn.

Sally Mummey continues by saying, "As a grieving mother, she made no secret of her beliefs in seances and contacting the dead after the death of her son Willi in the White House. The death of her husband left her in mourning for the rest of her life. These characteristics opened her actions to the criticisms of the contemporary press and the scrutiny of later historians who wrote about her with distortion. Only a resolute woman -- with so intense a will -- could have survived such a devastating onslaught. Through all this, her attitude for survival was: ‘What is to be is to be and nothing we can say or do can divert an inexorable fate. But in spite of knowing this, one feels better even after losing if one has had a brave, whole-hearted fight to get the better of destiny.

Just who is Sally Mummey who will give a first-person portrayal of Mary Todd Lincoln during T-AHS’s July 12th program and who offers this commentary?

Sally Mummey describes herself as a living history book. She is a lifetime member of the Lincoln Presenters, a national organization of Lincoln impersonators. In 1999 she was awarded the best Mrs. Lincoln by her peers. Appearing in numerous schools, Civil War Roundtables, historical societies, and museums, Sally amuses and teaches her audience what it is like to be First Lady during the Civil War. She is a member of the Massachusetts Department Auxiliary to the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil WAr, the Victorian Society of America, Suratt Society and Society d’Europe.

A meaningful adjunct to being present for Sally Mummey s impersonation of Mary Todd Lincoln, would be to visit Thompson-Ames Historical

Society’s Union Meetinghouse, at 24 Belknap Mountain Road, to see the Civil War era items on view in the Military Area display as well as the Victorian Room display. Sure to draw attention is the commanding oil portrait of Charles W. Hunt who gave his life while serving as Assistant Surgeon. Nearby is the blue felt cap worn by Gust Copp -- whose artistry with wood is reflected in the Meetinghouse ‘s intricately detailed interior paneling and unique trompe l’oeil above the dais. Military weapons, brass buttons, a leather medicine kit, a canteen with leather covering and a canvas strap, a miniature place—setting replica, an 1859 edition of the Holy Bible (which F. B. Hackett carried throughout the Civil War), a tobacco/snuff box, etc., are memorabilia precious enough to Gilford residents through the years to wish to entrust them to Gilford’s historical society for safe keeping.

A black and white photo shows Colonel James Shakford in full dress uniform as a Union Officer of the 12th NH Volunteers -- the topic of Jeayn Fahey’s book, some copies of which are still available for purchase as are copies of The Gunstock Parish: A History of Gilford, New Hampshire. An artificial leg and cemetery records are reminders of some of the consequences of the Civil War and wars in general.

Archival records on file in the T-AHS office in the Grange Building include many other items of interest, such as rolls books, hand-written notes, and other documents.

To know what life was like in Gilford during this period of history, the viewer can look at items on display in the Meetinghouse’s Victorian Room area -- where wreathes made of human hair show the artistic talents of Jennie Thurston Copp (wife of Gust Copp) -- and also see T-AHS’s collection manager, Diane Mitton, to read from Alvah Folsom Hunter’s typewritten, unpublished manuscript "A New Hampshire Boyhood".

To enable the public to view items of the Civil War era, the Union Meetinghouse will be open to the public from 10:00 a.m. until noon on Saturday, July 10th and immediately following Sally Mununey’s portrayal of Mary Todd Lincoln on Monday evening, July 12th.

To increase the number of volunteers who are prepared to act as tour-guides/docents, Thompson-Ames Historical Society will offer a training session Saturday morning, July 10th, at the Benjamin Rowe House, at 88 Belknap Mountain Road, in Gilford Village. The session will run from 10:00 a.m. until noon.

Included will be historical background as well as tours of each of the four downstairs rooms where pointers regarding items of special interest will be emphasized. Information sheets developed over the past couple years will be reviewed as helpful resources which are available for reference in each room.

The Rowe House will be open to the public Monday evening, July 12, from 5:00 until 6:00 p.m., just prior to the potluck supper gathering which will feature Sally Mummey as Mary Todd Lincoln. Each such open house involves six or more volunteers who serve as tour-guides/docentS.

If such volunteer involvement interests you, please telephone 527-9009 and plan to attend this training session. A good time will be had by all, without question!

Also, Saturday morning, July 10th will be another work day at the museum buildings that Thompson-Ames Historical Society maintains in Gilford Village. On the agenda are rebuilding the door frame of the Meetinghouse’s kitchen door, wheeling sand from the Meetinghouse cellar to build up the ground-water barrier around the Meetinghouse foundation, and weeding the flower gardens at all three museum buildings. The public is welcome to lend a helping hand.

For further information, please telephone 527-9009.