LaGrange College in Leighton was once where young cadets went to get a prestigious education.
On Saturday, a different kind of cadet will get a different kind of education at the site where LaGrange College once stood as re-enactors hope to bring to life the 1860s and a time when the college was bustling before it was burned 149 years ago.
Shelaine Michael, coordinator for Providence Living History Re-enactors, said events such as Recall LaGrange can help history come alive, especially for children.
“It’s not just something they read in a book” she said. “It’s something they can actually go and live out in a sense. To actually see other people working the crafts of that time period. We have in-character people who will portray people who were from that time period so they will actually speak to them and talk to them about things that were taking place as if they were actually in the mid-1800s.”
Michael’s coordinators will be a large part of the living history portion of Recall LaGrange. The annual events take place at the LaGrange College site park and starts 10 a.m. Saturday.
A part of the national Civil War 150th anniversary, Recall LaGrange commemorates the burning of the college by Union Forces led by Col. Florence Cornyn and his “destroying angels” on April 28, 1863.
Admission is free, and Michael said there will be vouchers kids can pick up for school credit if teachers are offering it.
Ninon Parker, with the Colbert County Tourism office , said LaGrange College was chartered in 1830 and was Alabama’s first college.
“Colonel Florence Cornyn, whose troops got the reputation as being the ‘destroying angels’ came to the village of LaGrange and the college and burned it,” Parker said. “There was not a battle there, it was an invasion.”
LaGrange College was called “The West Point of the South,” and was instrumental in training southern cadets before its burning.
Recall LaGrange will start with the unveiling of two historic markers, one inside the park and the other at the entrance to LaGrange College Road.
After the Enlistment of 35th Alabama and the School of the soldier events, there will be lunch followed by School of the Company. At 2 p.m., the battalion drill and living history events will start.
Louise Lenz, LaGrange College site park director, said there will be no skirmish event, but expects the living history re-enactment to be one of the largest events they’ve had for Recall LaGrange.
“It’s just a lot of activities that we haven’t had here (before),” Lenz said. “We’ve really been busy working toward the event. It’s one of the biggest that we’ve had.”
Michael said the living history section will have a meet-and-greet event for kids. Children will be able to go to 10 different in-character re-enactors and talk with them and get their signature. Getting all of the signatures will give them three free cannonballs at the cannon game.
“Not only does this have things for so many different people,” Michael said. “There are so many different kinds of trades presented, we have blacksmithing and leatherworkers. There is just something that would be of interest for every age.”
As a part of the living history there will be a cemetery drama where living people will portray people buried in the cemetery.
Anthony Courter and his family will be apart of the living history re-enactors. Courter, who home schools his children in Tennessee, said they started doing Revolutionary War re-enactments years ago, but a lack of colonial-era battles led him to Civil War re-enactments.
“My main focus is I want my children to understand the context of literature and math and science and invention,” Courter said. “You name it, everything happens in a historical context. I try to inspire my children by helping them feel and experience historically the things that have happened and part of the way of doing that is dressing up in character.”
In addition to the events Saturday at the site park, there also will be tours at The Oaks Plantation.
The Oaks Plantation was originally the home of Abraham Ricks and will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Admission to the Antebellum plantation home is $5 for adults, $3 for students and free for children younger than 6. Parker said all proceeds will go toward LaGrange Historical Association.
The Oaks Plantation is 1/4 mile south of highway 147 on Ricks Lane. Parker said there would be signs on the road marking directions to the tour.
Bobby Bozeman can be reached at 256-740-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org