On the Home Front

Judy Cook’s dress was fashioned from an old photo of her Great-Great Grandmother

Sometimes history becomes way real when you have a personal connection. So is the case for Judy Cook who gives us a bird’s eye view of the Civil War era by interspersing era music amidst family correspondence and projected images. Judy Cook has even written a book entitled “A Quiet Corner of the War” from these very same letters and designed three 19th Century programs entitled One Man’s Civil War, Civil War Hi jinks and On the Home Front. It was the latter she and her husband presented at the Library’s last Monday program of the year.

These letters were written in beautiful penmanship (see below) by Judy Cook’s great-great- grandparents Gilbert and Esther Claflin of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin during 1862-1863 while Gilbert was off at war. Gossip, daily news of townspeople, crops, animals, cleaning and war filled their pages.

Judy Cook’s Great-great grandparents Gilbert and Esther Claflin

Gilbert Claflin may have been in his 40’s but many of those conscripted were mere boys, not even old enough to shave, six of their family went off to fight and lost one member as Asa (R) did not return…

We know from history many, too many didn’t return (665,00)with the women carrying the entire burden of home life while their husbands and sons were off at war.

Accompanied by the English Concertina (1830’s) otherwise known as a squeeze box / singing acapella, Judy Cook shared 14 period songs modelling many of the songs’s choruses encouraging the audience to join in after reading segments of the letters. And join in they did… Following the lyrics on the screen. The most well known was “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.”

Unfortunately technical difficulties have prevented me from sharing a sampling of the wonderful era music. Perhaps I can work out the glitches later on. Sorry.

The music transported us back to a different time when our country was at war on its own land. It saddens me to think we have the possibility of reliving history of turning on each other… Let’s hope we have learned from the past.

Marguerite was Judy Cook’s Grandma, Price was Judy’s maternal great-grandfather