2019 Meetings

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

A Visit to Old Appomattox with County Clerk George Peers

6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

First Congregational Church, Fellowship Hall (lower level) 2001 Niles Ave., St. Joseph, Michigan

+ Event Details

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

A Visit to Old Appomattox with County Clerk George Peers

Appomattox Court House Chief Historian, Mr. Patrick Schroeder


Journey back in time with the former sheriff and county clerk of Appomattox Court House, Virginia, George T. Peers, in a visit to old Appomattox.   Attendees will experience a first-person, living history program taking them to Appomattox Court House in the summer of 1867 with Mr. Peers, who was born and raised in the county.  He perhaps knew more than anyone about the area from his clerking duties, and he became known as the “Ambassador of Appomattox” as he liked to show visitors and curiosity seekers the sites and tell of the events connected with the surrender.


Mr. Peers will tell some of the early history of Appomattox County, about some of its famous citizens, and the war years leading up to that fateful April 9, 1865, when General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia at the tiny hamlet of Appomattox Court House.  Peers will give a recount of the arrival of the armies, the battles in and around the village on April 8 and 9, of Wilmer McLean and his house where the surrender took place, the surrender meeting between Lee and Grant, Grant and Lee’s meeting outside of his house on April 10, his visits with General Joshua Chamberlain and the surrender ceremony, and his thoughts about post-surrender Appomattox.  Peers’ narration about the trying days of April 1865 as the towns people were surrounded by nearly 100,000 soldiers, North and South, will take you back to a time when the future of the country was in the hands of two men, and the generosity and respect from Americans to Americans at the end of the nations’ bloodiest conflict will speak volumes of the power of Appomattox.  George Peers is portrayed by veteran, living history interpreter and Appomattox Court House National Historical Park Historian, Patrick Schroeder.  


​​Schroeder was born January 1, 1968, at Fort Belvoir, VA, was raised in Utica, NY, and attended Stuarts Draft High School in Augusta County, VA.  In the spring of 1990, he graduated Cum Laude with a B.S. in Historical Park Administration from Shepherd College, Shepherdstown, WV.  He has a M.A. in Civil War History from Virginia Tech.  From the summer of 1986-1993, Patrick worked as a seasonal living history interpreter at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park.  In 1993, he wrote Thirty Myths About Lee’s Surrender, which is currently in its fourteenth printing.   From 1994–1999, he was employed at Red Hill, the Patrick Henry National Memorial.  Patrick has written, edited and/or contributed to more than twenty-five Civil War titles including:  More Myths About Lee’s Surrender; The Confederate Cemetery at Appomattox; Recollections and Reminiscences of Old Appomattox; Images of America:  Appomattox County; Tar Heels; Sailor’s Creek:  General Custis Lee Captured with Controversy; Civil War Soldier Life:  In Camp and Battle; A Duryee Zouave; We Came To Fight: A History of the 5th NY Veteran Vol. Inf., Duryee’s Zouaves; Campaigns of the 146th Regiment New York State Volunteers; Pennsylvania Bucktails; The Bloody 85th; The Life of General Ely S. Parker: Least Grand Sachem of the Iroquois and Grant’s Military Secretary; Appomattox County; and With the 11th New York Fire Zouaves: In Camp, Battle and Prison.  Patrick resides in Lynchburg, VA, and has worked as an independent researcher, author, historian, and tour guide.  He has served as the Historian at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park since 2002.  In an effort to protect sites relevant to the Appomattox Campaign, Patrick has set up the “Appomattox Fund” with the Civil War Trust, to save land important to the climatic events of April 1865.

6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

First Congregational Church, Fellowship Hall (lower level) 2001 Niles Ave., St. Joseph, Michigan

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Sultana: Disaster on the Mississippi

6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

First Congregational Church, Fellowship Hall (lower level) 2001 Niles Ave., St. Joseph, Michigan

+ Event Details

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Sultana: Disaster on the Mississippi

Author, Mr. Gene Salecker


On April 27, 1865, the worst maritime disaster in the history of the United States occurred when the sidewheel steamboat Sultana exploded on the Mississippi River, just seven miles north of Memphis, TN.  Suddenly the lives of over 2,100 people, most of them recently released Union prisoners-of-war, were thrown on the balance. Through a series of mistakes, greed, and corruption more than six times the legal limit of passengers had been crowded on board the Sultana.  How did it happen and who was responsible?  Author Gene Eric Salecker will explain the many facets of the disaster - how the explosion occurred, how people struggled to survived, and why no one was ever held accountable for the loss of almost 1,200 people.


​​Gene Eric Salecker is a military historian whose five published books include Disaster on the Mississippi: The Sultana Explosion, April 27, 1865 (1996) and The Second Pearl Harbor: The West Loch Disaster, May 21, 1944 (2014).  He owns the largest collection of Sultana artifacts and memorabilia, which is currently on long-term loan to the Interim Sultana Disaster Museum in Marion, Arkansas.  A graduate of Northeastern Illinois University, he is a retired police officer and a retired middle school teacher.  He lives in the Chicago area with his wife, cat, rabbit, and tropical fish.

6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

First Congregational Church, Fellowship Hall (lower level) 2001 Niles Ave., St. Joseph, Michigan

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Images of the Past: Jews and the American Civil War

6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

First Congregational Church, Fellowship Hall (lower level) 2001 Niles Ave., St. Joseph, Michigan

+ Event Details

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Images of the Past: Jews and the American Civil War

Living Civil War Historians, Mira & Bruce Form


Mira and Bruce Form are Civil War Living Historians and reenactors.  They will discuss the roles of Jews in the American Civil War and, more specifically, the people they have researched and portray: Miss Rebecca Moss of Philadelphia and Captain Myer J. Asch of the 1st New Jersey Cavalry.  They will appear in period dress.  Their talk includes projected images of people and documents of the time.


The Forms have been researching and speaking on Jewish Civil War Veterans and the American Jewish Community during the Civil War for over twenty-five years.  Their research has given them the opportunity to speak to Civil War groups such as the Joshua L. Chamberlain Civil War Round Table in Brunswick, Maine, The Union League and the G.A.R. Civil War Museum and Library in Philadelphia, as well as various Civil War Round Tables throughout New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  They have also been the guest speakers of numerous Jewish organizations, as well as a variety of public and private schools.  Their talks have helped to educate people about the many roles played by Jews during the Civil War, both in the Union and the Confederacy.


Bruce received his Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Athens State University in Alabama and a Master of Arts degree in Behavioral Science from Kean University in New Jersey.  He is retired from public education.


Mira graduated Cum Laude from New York University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Russian Studies and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.  She worked as a paralegal for many years in New Jersey.


Mira and Bruce Form are both natives of New Jersey.  They are now retired and live in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  They have three grown children and three grandchildren. 

6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

First Congregational Church, Fellowship Hall (lower level) 2001 Niles Ave., St. Joseph, Michigan

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Michigan's Regimental Battle Flag Collection

6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

First Congregational Church, Fellowship Hall (lower level) 2001 Niles Ave., St. Joseph, Michigan

+ Event Details

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Michigan's Regimental Battle Flag Collection

Director of the State Capitol Tour Guide and Information Service and Co-Chair of Save the Flags, Mr. Matt VanAcker


Approximately 90,000 Michigan soldiers fought in the American Civil War and almost 15,000 made the ultimate sacrifice.  The bullet torn, blood stained battle flags that these men carried and died beneath were their proudest possessions, they stood for the Union, for their loved ones back home and also as the rallying point in combat.


The talk will be about the Michigan Capitol Battle Flag collection, including 240 battle flags carried by Michigan soldiers in the Civil War, the Spanish American War and World War I.  Emphasis will be placed upon the Civil War collection, the importance of flags in battle, some specific regimental histories in connection with the flags and the history of the collection including current conservation efforts.


​Matt VanAcker serves as the Director of the State Capitol Tour Guide and Information Service and as Co-Chair of Save The Flags (our project to preserve and research the Michigan State Capitol Battle Flag collection).


He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Michigan State University with a major in History Education and a minor in Political Science. 


Matt started working at the Capitol the year after the restoration was complete in March of 1993 and served first as the acting director and then the director since 2001.  His association with the Capitol Battle Flag collection started shortly after he began working in the Capitol and he has spent the better part of the last 25 years assisting in the care, research and conservation of the collection.

6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

First Congregational Church, Fellowship Hall (lower level) 2001 Niles Ave., St. Joseph, Michigan

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Round Table Discussion of the 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign

6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

First Congregational Church, Fellowship Hall (lower level) 2001 Niles Ave., St. Joseph, Michigan

+ Event Details

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Round Table Discussion of the 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign

Mike Dumke, Ted Chamberlain & Scott Adrian


The May meeting will be an open discussion by the members of the round table of the 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign.  The meeting will be moderated by Mike Dumke, Ted Chamberlain & Scott Adrian. The discussion will include the various aspects of the Campaign including troop movements, personalities, battles, terrain and the significance of the various engagements. 

6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

First Congregational Church, Fellowship Hall (lower level) 2001 Niles Ave., St. Joseph, Michigan

More Events