Monettan Skip Smith will be taking part in the re-enactment of the Secession Convention on Saturday at the historic Barry County Courthouse in Cassville. Smith, an active member of the Monett Historical Society, is playing the role of Benjamin F. Walker, a state legislator from Cedar County.
"I've never done a re-enactment before," Smith said. "I'm looking forward to and being challenged by 'getting into character.' Mr. Walker seems to have been an educated man, with a variety of skills. From his biography, I get a sense that he was a person that was able to land on his feet, regardless of the situation.
Walker's family moved from Tennessee to southwest Missouri in 1836 and lived for a time in Barry County. Walker settled in Cedar County and held jobs as a surveyor and a state legislator when the Civil War broke out. He organized the first company of soldiers in Cedar County, the Stockton Greys, when Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson called for soldiers to defend state's rights against federal troops.
"I'll be wearing a pair of well-used boots, trousers, shirt with French cuffs and Masonic cufflinks, red tweed vest with pocket watch, a flat-crowned, wide brimmed leather hat, and some kind of frock coat," Smith said. "My costume will be deliberately mismatched and perhaps a bit rumpled, as would be appropriate for a state legislator forced to flee Jefferson City in a bit of haste, in advance of approaching Union troops."
Most of Walker's soldiers, including Walker and his son, joined the Confederate Army after the Missouri State Guard was disbanded. Walker's family had moved to Texas during the war. Finding themselves unwelcome in Cedar County after the war ended, Walker moved his family to Washington County, Ark. A bluff overlooking White River in Arkansas is still known as Walker's Bluff.
Walker remained a prominent citizen in his new community. He was elected to both the Arkansas House of Representatives and the State Senate, helping to write the new state constitution.
"Walker was altogether an enterprising and capable person. I think this re-enactment will be an informative and intriguing event for anyone interested in the Civil War-era history of Barry County," Smith said.
The living history re-enactment of the Claiborne Fox Jackson Legislature is slated to begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29 at the historic Barry County Courthouse, located on the square in Cassville.
The re-enactment highlights the second meeting of the Secession Convention, the first being held in Neosho. The General Assembly in exile convened at Neosho in Oct. 21, 1862, and after waiting a week to obtain a quorum, decided on Oct. 28 to proceed with business whether there was a quorum of not. On that day, the assembly passed the secession ordinance and ratified the Confederate Constitution.
The next day, members adjourned to Cassville for two days. The move was necessitated by the advance of Union Gen. John C. Freemont and a large federal army on Springfield. To distance himself from Freemont's superior force, Gen. Sterling Price moved his forces to Cassville.
The re-enactment event will kick off with a welcome from Cassville Mayor Tracy Holle and music from the Back Porch Players from Nixa.
Holle will introduce Representative William S. McConnell, played by David Sater, who tells spectators about himself and introduces Historian Hal Funk who will tell a brief history of the past.
|Private John Fisher, played by Travis Hilburn, will read portions of a diary he wrote to his wife as troops moved from Carthage to Cassville.|
Various representatives will arrive by stagecoach, wagons and on foot, and by 10:15 a.m., troops will converge on the courthouse.
As various dignitaries arrive at the courthouse, the re-enactment will be performed by local citizens as they enter the courthouse to assemble for business.
At noon, the meeting will adjourn as re-enactors and spectators take the opportunity to have lunch, provided by local vendors.
A fashion show is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m., with models exhibiting period dress from the mid-1800s.
Troops will be dismissed following the fashion show and will begin their march, accompanied by civilians, down Old Wire Road toward South Park.
A host of local citizens and dignitaries will take on the roles of key characters during the performance. Some of those include: Dr. William Piston as John McAfee, speaker of the House of Representatives; Mike Bennett as Thomas H. Murray, chief clerk of the House of Representatives; Eugene Dilbeck as Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson; Marty Jenkins as William F. Wisely, editor of the "Army Argus"; and Emory Melton as Secretary of the Senate John T. Crisp.
Other local citizens participating in the event include: Ted Roller, Herb Primrose, Jim Craig, Steve Cottrell, Bill Hill, Frank Washburn, Steve Weldon, Sam Gaskill, Stan Holle, Skip Smith, Jim LeCompte, Landon Fletcher, Melvin Lacey, Brent Paschall, Jack Nickols, Chip Kammerlohr, Pard Lowe, Jim Fohn, Tom Thomas, Roger Smith, Wayne Dyer, Doug Moody, Gary Morris, Jim Ridenour, Harold Henson, Daniel Keith, Dave Lewis, Buddy Hart, Christy Haydon, Becky Paschall, Cherry Warren, Mary Fenske, Glenn Scott III, Charlie Lauderdale, Mark Moller, Edgar Schreiner and Lynette Dilbeck.
In conjunction with the re-enactment, a pie contest will be held with judging in three categories: fruit, creme and other.
Prizes include a $25 gift certificate from Carey's Cassville Florist, a $25 gas card from Fastrip and a $25 gift certificate from Walmart. A $50 savings bond will be awarded to the winner of the pie voted best of show by the judges.
Pies entered in the contest must be delivered to the fellowship hall at the First Baptist Church in Cassville between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. Pies will be judged on taste and looks and bonus points will be awarded for presentation.
Pies must be baked by the person who submits the entry. A name and contact information must accompany all entries. The contest is limited to individual entries only. Business, retail or dining establishments are prohibited from entering the contest.
Winners will be announced at the courthouse following the legislative re-enactment. Pie by the slice will be sold following judging.
Pre-registration for the pie contest is not mandatory, although it is recommended in order to ensure enough judges are recruited.
More information on the pie contest may be obtained by calling Cherry Bailey at 847-3556, Ted Roller at 417-442-3443 or Terry Hart at 846-6110.