Mills Mansion honors Glory Days

By Jasmine Willis

MOUNT MORRIS — The community gathered for its annual historic festival that honors the father of the national pledge.

The Eighth Annual Glory Days was held downtown on June 8 for the author of the Pledge of Allegiance, Francis Bellamy.

Meanwhile, the Mills Mansion was honoring the founder of Mount Morris, Gen. William A. Mills with some Civil War reenactors and a new exhibit.

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Diana Bucknam talks about the “first flashlight” soldiers used in Civil War. It was a saddle candle to help them see in the dark. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Tim and Diana Bucknam, of Perry are the founders of the Civil War Reenactment “Fire on the Genesee” that has been a huge draw for tourism in two decades.

“We have done a lot of research over the years on the Civil War. We have grown up mostly getting the Union’s perspective, but it is always good to hear both sides of the story,” Diana said. “We have done this for about 23 years now. It has taken us many years of research.”

There are many things to consider when you take on certain roles for reenactments. You need to become the part of whoever you portray. You need to understand their side of the story.

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This candle was used when the young ladies were being courted in the Civil War era. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

For this the Bucknam’s have several items on display to show the Confederate side of the war. They have children’s toys, a family Bible from 1850s, a women’s gun, a musket, a saddle candle, and much more.

“We found that by that time period they were using the bayonets more for digging trenches. It was slowly becoming obsolete for fighting,” Tim said. “At that time the boys didn’t want to get that close to the enemy.”

The Confederate Flag has been misused over time according to the Bucknam’s after an intense research.

“The flags were meant to keep the soldiers in line. The one holding the flag would be shot within five minutes, and another soldier would take his place. This was how they kept the soldiers in line,” Tim said. “It is a shame the flags are being used inappropriately now. I looked into when the flags were made, and the purpose of why they were made. They all meant something different in those days.”

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This is an 1850s family Bible that shows what the importance of the Christian Revival was in that time. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Tim portrays a Civil War Confederate Chaplain, since he is a minister in real life this appeals to him.

“The Chaplains in these units were the largest Christian revivals in the country.  They worked with the soldiers in helping to guide them. They were around death all the time,” Tim said. “Most of these kids had never been more than 50 miles from home. Now they were 500 or 600 miles from home and scared to death in battle. The Chaplain’s job was to lead the way, bring them back to the Bible, and help them understand what was going on.”

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This is a beautiful 1911 dress showing the class of the ladies in that period. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Tim added there was a huge need for Confederate reenactors when they started doing this over two decades ago, so they decided to bring awareness to that. Now there are more Confederate reenactors than there are Union ones.

“We were asked to come out for Glory Days and talk about the time Gen. Mills was here. My wife and I started this long ago to talk to people about the Civil War. We wanted to bring a better understanding to the war. We want to get them to study the history of that time period. We just want to educate people to look more into their history.”

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This is a lovely 1840s dress donated by Helen McKay Estate. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Mills Mansion Historical Society members Debbie Schmidt, Mary Lou Martello, Suzanne Dunn, and Carol Mixon worked on the new exhibit that honors period dresses from the early 1800s to the early 1900s.

“We have a wonderful collection of clothes that have been beautifully preserved in a climate control room. We were interested in having a new exhibit out for June. We want to have one on antique tools for July,” Schmidt said. “It was like putting dresses on dolls. We all had so much fun working on this exhibit. It is interesting to see how tiny their waist and feet were in those days.”

Schmidt added the interns had everything very well documented when they were researching the items, so everything was mapped out for visitors on a sheet passed out for Glory Days.  There are 12 dresses on display the month of June that haven’t been seen in about four decades.

There is a Walking Tour of Mount Morris available at the museum as well to pick up and enjoy on a nice sunny day. It has 29 stops that take you from Main Street to Grove Street.

The Mills Mansion is located at 14 Main St. It is open for tours June to November, Fridays to Sundays, from noon to 4 p.m. They can be reached at 585-658-3292.

 

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