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Nov. 26, 2015 issue

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Thanksgiving, as celebrated by the soldiers of the Civil War

Ribbon cutting held for Sunflower Ave. Townhomes

County discusses old school building in Esbon Township

Angel Trees located throughout Jewell County

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The Superior Express & Jewell County News 26 November 2015


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Thanksgiving, as celebrated by soldiers of the Civil War

As in most wars, the men of the Civil War found it excruciatingly difficult to be away from loved ones at holiday time. Thanksgiving was no exception.
The holiday itself has its roots in the Civil War. The first official proclamation declaring Thanksgiving as a national day of remembrance was issued by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, partly in honor of Northern successes in the war that year. Lincoln designated the last Thursday in November "as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise."
That year, Thanksgiving fell on the day after a crucial Union victory at the battle of Chattanooga. The previous year in late November, armies were on the march during the Fredericksburg and Vicksburg campaigns. Around Thanksgiving 1864, some Union forces were on the cusp of the bloody battle of Franklin, while others were marching to the sea with William T. Sherman.
Because of their harsh surroundings, many Civil War men in the field enjoyed only the most spartan of celebrations. In Kewanee, Ill., teenage sisters Tirzah and Sarah Vaill received a letter from their older brother, an Illinois infantryman, after Thanksgiving 1861 that described his holiday meal, "hard bread" and salt pork. He added that "during the day I thought of you at home having your nice dinners" and "wishing maybe that you might present a plate to some of us soldiers filled with your own goodies."
From his camp in Virginia that same year, Private Zebina Bickford of the 6th Vermont Infantry made the best of his day. In a letter home, he mused that "you may think we are homesick today but it is not so," mainly because of a care package sent from loved ones back in Vermont. The goodies consisted of "a box of clothing and a few nicknacks consisting of eatables" that made "a very good Thanksgiving for us."
With tongue in cheek, he wrote that "you can't imagine what a lot of fine things we had for suppera piece of sour bread and salt pork." However, he gleefully noted that "some of mother's cookies and doughnuts that came in our box" made the evening memorable. It would be Bickford's last Thanksgiving, as he died the following April 30.
The following year, Asa Bean, a doctor in the 114th Ohio, enjoyed greater tidings. On Nov. 27, 1862, he wrote that "there has been a surprise party here today for the benefit of soldiers and nurses." The feast included "roast turkey, chicken, pigeon, and oysters stewed" along with "baked chicken, boiled potatoes, turnip, apple butter, and cheese butter." Bean, though, lamented that he "cannot eat much without being sick." He, too, would die months later.
Elsewhere that year, Federal soldiers stationed at Fort Pulaski, Ga., held their own "fete and festival." The day's events included target practice and a rowing match, foot race, and hurdle sack race. Competitions involving a greased pole and a greased pig were also on the agenda, as was a "burlesque dress parade."
In some cases, Thanksgiving was a time of spiritual reflection. On the first official installment of the holiday in 1863, Sewell Van Alstine, a soldier in the 95th Illinois, wrote in his diary that he "went to town" and "heard an excellent discourse by an army chaplain at the Presbyterian Church." He also wrote there was "no drill today," a welcome respite.
In 1864, the Union League Club of New York City pleaded for donations of "cooked poultry and other proper meats" as well as "mince pies, sausages, and fruits" for men in the field. The call brought in some $57,000 in cash donations, as well as nearly 225,000 pounds of poultry and large quantities of cakes, gingerbread, pickles, apples, vegetables, and cheese. One appreciative soldier saw the deeper meaning, writing that "it isn't the turkey, but the idea that we care for."
Others received far less. That year, Lewis Crater of the 50th Pennsylvania recorded in his diary that the Sanitary Commission "issued three fine apples to every man." Despite the middling fare, Crater and others likely gave thanks that they had survived to see another Thanksgiving during the four bloodiest years in American history.

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Ribbon cutting held for Sunflower Ave. Townhomes
Thursday afternoon, the Mankato Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Sunflower Avenue Townhomes in Mankato. The homes are owned by Keith and Bethany Roe, Mankato,
There are two separate townhomes under one roof that have been built just north of Highway 36 on Sunflower Avenue. The townhomes are built on free lots that were owned by the City of Mankato. Construction of the townhome started in October 2014 and they were completed in April.
The 1,200 square foot living facility is built on a slab of cement so there are no basements. All heating and air comes from the ceiling with cold air returns in the hallway. Each features an above ground safe room and is fully handicap accessible with no steps, no stairs and a curb free shower in the master bedroom.
The walls throughout the townhome are a taupe color with brown tweed carpet in the living room and bedrooms. The living room features recessed lighting. Tile is on the floor in the kitchen with all appliances and installation of the appliances by Mankato Plumbing. The U shaped kitchen features a swirl patterned counter top.
There are two tile floor bathrooms, one that houses the washer and dryer. The bathroom off the master bedroom has a large walk-in shower. The two bedrooms feature large closets.
On the west side of the townhome is a large door leading out to a small cement patio area and is completed with a small yard. A brick cement retaining wall surrounds the town-homes and blue spruce trees have been planted above the retaining wall.
Landscaping for the townhomes have been completed with the planting of trees, shrubs and grass.

County discusses old school building in Esbon Township

The Jewell County Board met Monday with commissioners Mark Fleming, Steve Greene and Dwight Frost present. Carla Waugh, county clerk, was also present.
Chuck Finney was present to discuss the old school building in Section 8 of Esbon Township.
Joel Elkins, general superintendent, provided an update on the operations of the department. The commissioners reported road concerns.
The commissioners went into two executive sessions for 20 minutes each to discuss non-elected personnel. Regular session resumed with no action taken.
Don Jacobs, Sheriff, provided an update on the operations of the department.

Angel Trees located throughout Jewell County

Once again this year the Christmas season in Jewell County will be met with the annual Angel Tree program. The Angel Tree is again located in the Mankato City Library and will be available for area residents to select their "Angel" during the hours the library has its doors open to the public.
Lisa Goodheart, administrative secretary for the United Methodist Parish said "The Angel Tree program will be in operation again this year and will operate basically the same as it has for several years."
There will be three locations that will be accepting names, issuing "Angel" names, and receiving gifts for all of the "Angels" living in Jewell County.
Angel names may be chosen from the Angel Tree located in the lobby of the Guaranty State Bank located at Burr Oak. Junior American Legion Auxiliary members at Burr Oak and Esbon are in charge of that area with the contact person being Brenda Eakins.
The second location for an Angel Tree will be in the lobby of the Guaranty State Bank, Jewell. This tree will handle the southern part of Jewell County. The bank will accept monetary donations if someone wishes to not to take an "Angel" but would still like to be involved with the program.
The third location will be at the United Methodist Parish office in Mankato. At the Mankato Library there will be instructions on how to participate, a place to sign up, and then the very important part of the program the opportunity to pick a number of an "Angel" that individuals may take from the tree. Also very important at the time of sign up is the name of the person taking the "Angel" number and a telephone number in case they are needed to be reached by the parish office.
Angel gifts are due back in the Jewell County United Methodist Parish office by Dec. 16.
"For those who wish to stop and pick them up, at the Parish office in Mankato there are some toys and gift bags already on hand for your "Angels," said Lisa.
To those new to the community or those who have not participated in this program before it is pretty easy to get involved if you so wish.
Residents are urged to keep checking for names on the tree as "angels" will continue to come in well after the first round of names are placed on the tree.
Also located in the parish office is the "Tree of Warmth." Anyone who would like to place mittens, gloves, stocking hats, scarfs or socks for all children and adults on this tree are encouraged to do so. The "Tree of Warmth" will serve Jewell County residents who are in need of things to keep them warm this winter.


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