Library unveils new war exhibit in time for festival

bbashioum@demo-mo.comOctober 4, 2013 

A new Civil War exhibit tracing the story of Cass County during the Border War and Civil War from 1854 to 1870 is on display at the Harrisonville library.

The exhibit, “The Stern Visitations of War in Cass County,” was unveiled Sept. 7.

The exhibit is a collection of 18 pop-up panels that give a taste to life in Cass County from 150 years ago and is currently on display on the upper level of the library, 400 E. Mechanic St.

This weekend, during the Burnt District Festival, the panels will be on display during normal library hours, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday, Oct. 4-5.

The panels share stories from the war, including Order No. 11, which decreed that citizens must leave the county by Sept. 9, 1863 unless they could prove loyalty to the Union and move into the military towns of Harrisonville and Pleasant Hill.

Thousands left their homes and farms behind as they streamed out of the county in the heat and dust.

Union troops burned all that was left behind, including homes, barns, crops and fences, turning the area into “The Burnt District.”

Each of the panels include a unique perspective of the Civil War’s influence in Cass County.

“We really like to share our history,” said Cass County Public Library Genealogy Manager Jackie Roberts, who served as the project coordinator for the exhibit.

Topics include the Border War, military units, women’s stories, slave stories and the exodus along with the aftermath and healing.

Each panel includes a QR code, which when scanned with a QR code reader on a smart phone or tablet will connect the viewer to a link on the Cass County Library website for additional maps, videos, links and resources to guide the viewer to more resources on the topic.

Visitors to the exhibit can also pick up a card at the exhibit that includes all of the QR codes to take home for future study.

As part of the exhibit, an interactive neighborhood map also allows visitors to explore events related to the war that happened in their own Cass County community.

“It’s a map of Cass County and you can go to your township, scan the QR code, and find out what was going on in your neighborhood during the war,” Roberts said.

Funding for the project was provided through a matching grant from the Freedom’s Frontier Natural Heritage Area.

Donald Scott, Deputy Librarian of Congress Emeritus and Library of Congress Trustee, attended the unveiling of the exhibit.

Scott is a retired Brigadier General with the U.S. Army and is also on the board of the FFNHA, which was cosponsored the project with the Cass County Historical Society and the library.

“The Cass County Civil War exhibit meets the high standards as those the Library of Congress accepts for display,” Scott said.

The panels were designed to be easily portable so they can be put on display at other public places. The exhibit is scheduled to be featured in the rotunda of the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City in February.

Roberts was assisted by Diane Magness and Carol Bohl with the Cass County Historical Society, and author Tom Rafiner. Library staff members Seth Hershburger and Steve Erichson also aided with the website development of the project.

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