On Feb. 11, 1861, president-elect Abraham Lincoln left Springfield for Washington, D.C., for his inauguration. On the same day, Jefferson Davis left his home in Vicksburg, Miss., for Montgomery, Ala., to accept the presidency of the Confederate states.
For this reason, Feb. 11, 2011, was chosen as the start of the sesquicentennial celebration of the Civil War.
Around the state many historical organizations have invited speakers to talk about various aspects of the Civil War, and more will be planned during the four-year observation.
Vandalia has two major events planned.
The first, a long-held tradition in our capital town, is a celebration of the 203rd birthday of Abraham Lincoln on Sunday, Feb. 12. As in the past, the event sponsored by the Vandalia Historical Society, in conjunction with the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, will take place in the Vandalia Statehouse, beginning at 2 p.m.
Kevin Kaegy, noted Lincoln historian, has been engaged as the speaker for this event, with his subject being, “Lincoln’s Confederate In-Laws.” His talk will take place in the House of Representatives chamber on the second floor.
For those who find stairs challenging, a large screen television will be set up in the Supreme Court Room on the main floor, and the program will be shown on this screen.
As in the past several years, Lincoln artifacts will be displayed in the Supreme Court Room.
On Saturday evening, Feb. 11, Vandalia will host its second Lincoln Victory Ball at the Vandalia Moose Lodge, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. There is no admission charge for those in period attire, with a $5 charge for the public.
Connie Bolyard, the event organizer, is enthusiastic about the support she has received from local businesses and organizations, including First National Bank, National Bank, Vandalia Historical Society, The St. Elmo Banner, and Dr. and Mrs. Brian Dossett.
At least three businesses have donated gift baskets to be raffled off at the event, including: Something Special Florist, Givens Meat Shop and Maranatha’s.
Period music will be provided by the group "Salt Creek," and a caller will guide the dancers in the various Civil War-era dances. For those, like me, for whom this is a nearly new experience, the presence of the caller will help to negotiate the steps in the Virginia Reel and the Grand Promenade.
As in the days of the Civil War, when balls were held to raise money for the troops, donations will be accepted for the "Wounded Warrior" project.
Recipes taken from the era of the Civil War are being used in the creation of refreshments – cake, cookies and punch.
Open for a new experience? The Lincoln Victory Ball will certainly be that for many.