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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Mural unveiled in Newtonia

Friday, June 4, 2010

Pierce City artist Becky Golubski, pictured above left, was one of many friends of artist Doug Hall attending the recent unveiling of his mural depicting a scene from the Civil War set at the Ritchey Mansion in Newtonia, the site of the gathering. [Photo by Kristin Nama]
More than 200 people gathered at the Ritchey Mansion in Newtonia to witness the unveiling of a mural painted by well known artist local Doug Hall. The Neosho native, who now resides in McDonald County, is especially known for his portrayal of early Eastern Woodland Native Americans.

The large oil painting revealed in a May 20 ceremony depicts a battle scene that took place during the Civil War around the Ritchey Mansion. Hall's "Battle of Newtonia -- September 30, 1862" shows members of the Ninth Wisconsin regiment along a wall with a Native American Confederate soldier jumping his horse over it.

The painting shows a "moment in time" when the Ninth was engaged in battle with Confederate soldiers from Texas. According to the Newtonia Battlefields Protection Association (NBPA), the fighting was interrupted by a group of Choctaw/Chickasaw Native American Confederate troops who came riding into Newtonia "screaming and issuing blood-curdling cries."

State Rep. Marilyn Ruestman and State Sen. Gary Nodler each spoke briefly. Steve Roark, representing the Newton County Tourism Council, noted that this is the 16th mural that has been sponsored by the Council in the area in the past five years. Funding for the mural was provided by the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma and the tourism council. Glenna Wallace, chief of the Eastern Shawnee, told the crowd that the painting helps illustrates the role of Native Americans in the battles of the Civil War. She said it has always been her goal to have the Eastern Shawnee portrayed in a positive light, and she admired Hall's presentation of the scene.

"This artist is really great at conveying spirit," Wallace said.

This battle in Newtonia was the only one in the Civil War with complete regiments of Native American on both sides, Wallace said. She added that Native Americans honor their veterans and they have the highest percentage per capita of any ethnic group in the military. The Civil War pitted brother against brother and family against family. Wallace said it was no different for Native Americans.

"The United States suffered, and we suffered," she said.

The crowd for the unveiling of the painting was estimated to be more than 200 people. Larry James, president of the NBPA, said it was probably the biggest turnout for any single event at the Ritchey Mansion except perhaps the first day they opened the home for tours.

The Ritchey Mansion is maintained by the NBPA and required a number of repairs after a tornado in 2008 damaged much of the small town of Newtonia. The Newtonia battlefields are currently the subject of a study to determine if they should be put under the National Park Service. One thing the Park Service requires is a unique story, and James said the Newtonia battlefields offer that. The last major battle

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