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August 25th, 2011:

Civil War Reunion at the Fair

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announcement for reunion of ex-confederate soldiersI’ve done a couple of blog posts now about the State Fair premium lists, talking about what they are and some of the more unique entries from early lists. I’ve gotten to know these lists by working on the Blue Ribbon Memories site (and as an aside, if you haven’t added a memory of the fair yet, do so right away! – or maybe after finishing this post).

One announcement that I came across recently on page 20 of the 1882 list shows that the fair was used as a convenient way to schedule a meeting for different groups around North Carolina. It offered a venue, and a good reason to get together in a place where many were already gathering.  The announcement from this particular list is for the “Grand Annual Reunion of the Ex-Confederate Soldiers of North Carolina.”

There are some famous folks mentioned here.  You’ll see Z. B. Vance, or Zebulon Baird Vance, three-time North Carolina governor, Congressman, and Confederate colonel.   There’s also L. L. Polk, or Leonidas La Fayette Polk, who was a Sergeant Major under Vance’s command, who had a strong influence on the state’s agriculture, politics and journalism, and who played a part in the founding of what is now Meredith College.

I’m curious about the State Survivors Association. I’m not sure who began it, although it looks like North Carolina wasn’t the only state to have one.  As someone working in a cultural heritage institution (and who, incidentally, is married to an archaeologist), I was also intrigued by the call to bring in items for a “museum of war relics.” The items would be “labeled with the name of the donor, and placed in the Museum.”  I wonder where these items might be today – perhaps in one of our state or university museums? I wonder how many families were willing to give up items used during the Civil War or found afterward. Interesting questions suggested by a single announcement. I’ll keep on looking for more information but if you already know the answers please feel free to comment below.

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