Fellowship on the Gardner Farm

Printer-friendly versionPDF version

The first weekend in October was planned by the Magoffin County Civil War Committee to be a special weekend for Civil War Reenactors and associated persons.

We had planned long with diligence to make this first of its kind event worthy of the time of those who dedicate themselves to preserving history. Of course in planning an outdoor event we were at the mercy of the weather, or so we thought.

As the time drew neigh for this event our idealic autumn days began to take a turn for the worse. It seems Old Man Winter was determined to thwart this event with bluster. Old Man Winter ushered in rain cold as a witch’s heart and as night fell so did the temperatures. My heart sunk as I knew few would brave this weather even for a noble cause. But one of Magoffin County’s own erected a tent and built a fire, a fire whose glow gave off more than warmth; it gave off rays of hope. May God bless the John Culbertson family for being steadfast in supporting our cause. Chaplin William McKiven, his lovely wife Renae and their daughter Sarah from Tellico Springs Tennessee had set up camp. This mighty man of God from a far away land has blessed and inspired all he has come in contact with. My friend ‘Todd’ Preston was there to give a tour of the Pioneer Village to any takers.  Fellow board members Ben Gardner, Jimmy Allen and Jack Sizemore were of course there. The Friends of Middle Creek were well represented; they have become the backbone of our events. Suddenly I noticed the den of a dozen or more children playing about the campfire and my eyes filled with tears as I thought of how lucky they were to be here in this time instead of that time long ago we were remembering. I thought about the beautifully maintained cemetery just above them and the hundreds of unknowns, probably soldiers, who have been at rest there for so long; an unknowns burial ground we hoped to sanctify before this event was through.

 Marlene Howard arrived with piping hot chili and baked sweet potatoes to go with the sandwiches which Kay Howard had already prepared. We had tables and chairs set up on the front porch of the Gardner Home where we ate in the shadow of history. It was a meal shared by friends in fellowship with the past. Friday came to a conclusion with hope that what we were trying to accomplish here was not to be in vain.

Saturday broke to a cold misty drizzle. At this point we realized that our hope for a large encampment would be overshadowed by the cold and wet. All was not gloom though, Burnis and Barbra Patrick, Jim Mortimer and others of the Salyersville Kiwanis arrived to cook breakfast.  Sausage, bacon, eggs, biscuits and gravy; yes it was a near breakfast feast. These same folks would serve hotdogs with sauce for dinner and fried chicken with mashed potatoes, baked beans, slaw and biscuits for supper. Meals that were well received and much appreciated by all.   

I had asked Regina Ison, a member of the Friends of Middle Creek, if she would arrange a large cross made up of Luminaries across the graves of the unknowns. Regina with characteristic enthusiasm agreed to do so. After we were satiated with the afternoon meal she set about this task. As dusk descended more than 100 candles inside white paper bags were lit and Chaplain McKiven began the service to consecrate this hallowed ground. He spoke eloquent words that would have meaning during the time of the Civil War but at the same time remained relevant today.

The effect of the Cross and the Sermon was deeply moving and I feel confident that the souls of those we were trying to honor were satisfied.