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Bishop Hill Chautauqua Sept. 7

This article orginally appeared in the Quad Cities Online Dispatch-Argus

The Bishop Hill Heritage Association will revive a long standing tradition by hosting The Bishop Hill Chautauqua Saturday, Sept. 7, in the village square. This is a free family oriented event where you will hear re-enactors tell inspiring stories about the historical characters they are portraying.

Re-enactors will portray Barry Cloyd, as Carl Sandburg, poet, Lincoln biographer, two time Pulitzer Prize winner and Swedish American, will share some of his more famous poetry as well as a few lesser known works.

Through storyteller and author Betty Kay the audience will meet three Civil War Era Women, Galesburg native and nurse Mother Bickerdyke, of whom General Sherman once said “She outranks me;” Irish Immigrant Jenny Hodgers who came to America looking for work as the war erupted and decided a soldiering she would go, becoming Albert Cashier, and then living as a man the rest of her days; and the wife of President US Grant, Julia Dent Grant, whose life story mirrors many of the nation’s issues in a very personal tale.

Ken Bradbury, the most published playwright in America will portray himself as he plays the piano and takes you on a rollicking tour of American History through songs, from old time gospel to modern rock, Broadway show tunes to folk revival classics.

The evening will end with an encounter of two pivotal characters in the earliest days of Illinois history. First, meet Territorial Governor during the War of 1812, Ninian Edwards. Because he was responsible for the forced removal of Illinois’ American Indian population, Edwards will be challenged by Pottawatomi Chief Gomo, friend of Tecumseh and Black Partridge, who gave a pivotal speech in rebuttal to Edward’s admonitions. Both characters will be portrayed by Brian “Fox” Ellis.


1 p.m. — Illinois’ First Poet Laureate Carl Sandburg

3 p.m. — Three Civil War Women: Nurse Mother Bickerdike, Soldier Albert Cashiers and First Lady Julia Dent Gran.

5 p.m. — Dinner will be sold by the Bishop Hill Arts Council

6 p.m. — Ken Bradbury’s Melodious Tour of American Music

7 p.m. — Two Faces of Illinois History: Ninian Edwards and Chief Gomo

All programs will be held at the gazebo in the town square. Please bring a folding chair. In the case of inclement weather the program will move to the VagnHall Galleri, in the Prairie Arts Center. For information, call 309-927-3899 or visit