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By Linda Emley
On Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011, my life changed forever. Looking back now, I would never imagine how different my life would be in three short years. This is the night I first fell in love with Alexander Doniphan.
An actor from Liberty gave a presentation dressed as Doniphan at the Ray County Historical Society’s annual meeting. We enjoyed a carry-in dinner as he told us the story of his life.
I knew some of Doniphan’s stories, but seeing him in person made his stories come to life.
Another event took place that night and it’s the real reason that my life changed so much. It was at this meeting that I was elected to be on the board for the Ray County Historical Society.
I’ve spent many hours at the Ray County Museum doing genealogical research, but I had only toured the museum a few times. I remember my first tour in the 1980s when I was a den mother and brought my Cub Scouts for a visit. My second visit was when I came with some out-of-state cousins and Roy Feldman gave us a wonderful tour.
I have served on boards before, but this one turned out to be a bigger job than the others. A month after I was elected, I agreed to man the museum for a few weeks when our museum manager resigned. Those few weeks turned into seven months and then one day I found myself interviewing for the job of the museum manager. This job was never on my bucket list, but I now know that we do not control our own destiny. We can make our plans, but everything is in God’s hands.
I continued to write two stories a week for my Richmond News column, so I didn’t have a lot of spare time. I gave up TV and devoted most of my extra hours to organizing Ray County’s history.
My life was starting to calm down and then one day Robbie Maupin and his brother walked into the museum and started talking about the Battle of Albany. That was over two years ago and now for the first time, I can see our Albany reenactment on the horizon.
I have always enjoyed planning parties, but this is going to be the biggest event since the 1971 Ray County Sesquicentennial. The best part is this event is that it’s free, so we hope many local people will come and bring their families.
Friday night, Oct. 24, the Civil War re-enactors will start arriving. You will be able to visit the Civil War camps and see what everyday life was like for our soldiers. We will have vendors selling Civil War replica items and there will be two battles each day. Saturday night at dusk you’ll see cannons shooting flames into the night sky. Saturday night we will host a Civil War ball with a live band playing music from that era.
There will be some events on the Richmond Square both days. Sunday, a permanent panel will be dedicated on the Courthouse lawn. This panel will tell about the importance of the Partisan Rangers and our own Civil War history. Another panel will be dedicated at the Albany site near Orrick.
There are many other events that will be going on all day long Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 25-26, so mark your calendars now for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Albany.
We are going to have at least one special event each month between now and October to help everyone learn more about our local Civil War History.
Our next event will be held at the Eagleton Center Saturday, Feb. 8. We will be hosting a Rock and Roll Music Jam from 5 to 8:30 p.m. It is free to the public, but we will be taking donations for the Battle of Albany reenactment and also offering a refreshment stand. The music Jam will be hosted by Shade Tree Jam Band, which is Sandy Myerchin and Spudd Richards. It’s always a good time when they are jamming.
If you have questions, make sure to call me at 816-776-2305.
I would also like to take a minute and welcome two new board members to the Historical Society board – Martin Griffin and Sam Stanton. Martin is superintendent of Hardin-Central schools and lives in Orrick. Sam Santon is the commander of The Elliott Scouts, our Battle of Albany sponsoring Civil War reenactor unit.
You can write Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org