May 20 & 21, 2017
On May 20 and 21, time will be turned back to the 1860’s for a special event featuring many Civil War impressionists from the 16th President of the United States to the drummer boy, Johnny Clem. This event will be very unique as it is a living history of the Civil War. Those visiting the encampments and riding the train will have up close and personal experiences as they ride the rails of the Wanamaker, Kempton and Southern Railroad while experiencing the Civil War through the memories of the soldiers, spies and politicians who lived during the 1800’s. Other events during the Civil War Days include history brought to life by the Damn Dutch and recognition of the Civil War veterans from the local area.
John Robertson, Albany Township Historian, will present the Civil War from a distinctly Albany Township perspective. The lives of several of the men who served in various Pennsylvania regiments will be the main focus of this talk. Come hear the experiences of men named Greenawalt, Hendricks, Graff, Trexler, and others that left the safety of their Albany Township farms for the unknown, and how they fared during the most important time in their lives, and that of their country.
Plan to ride the train with our special guests from the Civil War. Saturday trains depart beginning at 11:00 a.m. with our 12 noon “Presidential Special” hosting President Lincoln. There will be no train departing at 1:00 p.m. to allow for the pomp and circumstance surrounded by the arrival of the President. Trains will resume at 2:00 p.m.; 3:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m. Sunday’s trains will depart beginning at 12:00 noon, running on the hour, last train departs at 4:00 p.m. Since this is a special event, our all-day ride ticket will not be available.
Stay for the Cotillion on Saturday evening and learn to dance civil war style. The evening’s dance will be held at the Kempton Community Center’s barn and proceeds from the dance will help to support repairs to this beautiful barn.
Sunday will feature a panel discussion with the leaders of both sides entitled “Brother To Brother, Leaders of the North & South.” It will showcase President Lincoln, Generals Grant, Lee, and “Extra Billy Smith”, along with other key soldiers and spies from the Civil War. It’s a must attend event.
The main focus of the weekend is to raise funds to bring back steam to WK&S. Throughout the weekend Engine 65 (steam locomotive) will be “open” for you to climb aboard! Feel what it must have been like to be an engineer on one of these iron giants or what it must have been like to feed its firebox with coal. Imagine the steam bellowing from its stack. Yes, the sound of the steam whistle has been silent since 2009 at WK&S! Experiencing Kempton Civil War Days will bring us that much closer to rebuilding our sleeping giants.
There will be encampment demonstrations of military life throughout the day which will feature muzzle loading and firing as well as blacksmith demonstrations. The Kempton Community Stage will showcase all our speakers, historians, impressionists, and authors for the weekend. Don’t miss any of the events for the weekend, plan to attend both days.
Reservations not Required
Saturday Trains: 11am, 12noon (President Lincoln Express)
no 1pm train, 2, 3, & 4pm
Sunday Trains: 12 noon, 1, 2, 3 & 4 p.m.
Event Parking: $10 per car;
Train Tickets: Adults $10;
Children (3-11) $5.00; 2 and Under FREE
This is a Special Event to Help Bring Back Steam.
There will be no all day ride tickets honored.
Click the + sign to learn more about each topic.
General U. S. Grant portrayed by Kenneth J. Serfass, Gunnery Sgt USMC, retired
(Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant)
Gunnery Sgt Kenneth J. Serfass was born in Bethlehem, PA on June 18th, 1966. He joined the USMC in 1984 and his final tour was with the First Marine Division Band during Operation Iraqi Freedom and retired from the Marine Corps in July of 2004 to become a music teacher.
Ken was a civil war reenactor and now first-person impressionist with over forty years of study of his self-avowed childhood hero US Grant. He has created a nitch as a full time professional living historian portraying Ulysses S. Grant. His adventures and travel as US Grant are documented on the Facebook page, “US Grant in living history” and through Linked In”.
Ken has been appearing publically as General Grant since 2009 while living in San Diego CA, speaking at events across the country and has visited many areas of Grant’s military campaigns across the south. He presents the general in walking tours, horseback rides, rail road excursion rides, and at various living history and roundtable events on a regular basis across most of the northeast and in Southern California and events at Pamplin Park and several national parks as well. In 2015 he was invited to join The Federal Generals Corps, a living history organization hosting first person impressions of many of the most well-known Union generals in the American civil war.
In 2016 he was invited to speak on Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign to the Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Association to develop broader civil war study among their guides. Also he appeared in his role at the General Grant National Memorial, in New York City, presenting a first person public interactive address, recreating Grant’s promotion to “General of the Army” in 1866. He appears monthly in many venues across the nation, telling the tale of Grant’s life and the honorable service of his armies, as well as debunking myths of his career as a soldier and the president. The annual Huntington Beach CA Civil War Days has established Ken as a US Grant presenter on both national shores.
In late September he was a guest speaker for the Mid-town Manhattan Civil War Roundtable, and within days of that talk, he was in Mattoon Illinois for five days of talks and fundraising efforts (twelve total) for a memorial park dedicated to the 21 st regiment, Grant’s first assigned command in 1861. October opened with a day of Victorian Base Ball at Strasburg RR, where “President Grant’ rode the train and attended the period base ball tournament, and the year closed with many more appearances close to home, but not before an invitation from the Grant Monument Association to attend a luncheon with Ronald C. White, author of, “American Ulysses“, a new biography on US Grant, meeting in Manhattan. February of 2017 has him returning to Grant’s final resting place to speak on Grant’s Presidency as well as on the Strasburg Rail Road for the President’s Day Holiday.
So far for 2017 there have been presentations as both the general and president, returning in some venues in the latter role to serialize the life of US Grant from earlier meetings as the general in chief.
It is with a profound honor that he tells the story of one of America’s greatest military leaders and Ken takes it very seriously to reaffirm Grant’s place of honor among the most respected people of our nation’s history.
Dave Meisky as Extra Billy Smith
Extra Billy Smith was born in 1797 and before the war he was a lawyer, established a stage coach line from Washington to Milledgeville Ga., was a California 49er, was elected twice to the Virginia State Senate, served five terms in the US House of Representatives, and was Governor of Virginia. At the outbreak of the war he became colonel of the 49th Virginia Infantry, commanding them at First Manassas, the Peninsula (wounded at Seven Pines), Second Manassas, and Sharpsburg.
At Sharpsburg he took command of the brigade when the brigade commander, Jubal Early, assumed command of the division. He held that position for 10 minutes when he was wounded three times (you would think that two of those Yankees could have found someone else to shoot) and spent 6 months recovering. He had been elected to the Confederate House of Representatives in 1861 and served in that body January – March, 1862 and while recovering from his wounds.
Returning in March he was promoted to Brigade General and given command of the brigade as Early now commanded the division. After the Chancellorsville campaign he was elected Governor again but since the term of office didn’t start until January 1, 1864. he was still commanding the brigade during the Gettysburg campaign. That is the period, June-July 1863 I will be portraying.
Looking ahead he was the Governor when Richmond fell and spent 10 weeks traveling the state with the Yankees looking for him and offering a $25.000 reward. He surrendered in Richmond June 8 and signed his parole on the 12th. In 1875, age 78, he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates and in 1887 went to his final rest in Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond.
Dave Meisky had a somewhat less interesting life. Born in Knoxville Tennessee we lived in Wilmington Del. for several years than in Cassville Pa. (Huntington County). We moved to Northern Virginia the summer after third grade and I have lived in that area until about 5 years ago. I worked a variety of jobs, attended George Mason University in Fairfax, served in the DC National Guard, and retired from the Fairfax County Public Library. I was an infantryman with the Fairfax Rifles, Co. D 17th Va. Inf. until I joined AAA (age, asthma, and arthritis). I have been a member of Lee’s Lieutenants for a number of years portraying Extra Billy. I now live in Buena Vista, Va., at the western foot of the Blue Ridge about 6 miles from Lexington.
Dave aka Extra Billy
Troops for the Weekend will include The Fenian Brotherhood
The Fenian Brotherhood was an Irish Republican Organization founded in 1858 in the United States. It had a sister organization in Ireland founded at the same time calle dhte Irish Republican Brotherhood. Both organizations were called “Fenians”. Their purpose was to free Ireland from years of British tyranny and take their homeland Ireland, by force, away from Great Britain. The Fenians saw the American Civil War as an opportunity to train men in military tactics which would then be used against the British Empire. Entire companies and regiments of Irish and Irish Americans, in both the Union and Confederate armies joined for this military knowledge and experience. Many of their regimental flags reflected their Fenian & Irish Heritage. Fenians formed into circles (societies) and would convene in the military camps to conduct Brotherhood business during the war.
The Fenian Brotherhood, mostly veterans of the Civil War, became the largest priate army within the United States, with support coming from any high ranking government officials, which often overlooked the real purpose of this organization for their own political purposes.
In 1866, the Fenians broke into two factions, with both attempting raids into British North America (Canada). These actions were unsuccessful, but lead the individual Canada colonies to unite into a Dominion, becoming independent of Britain and settling fears of the United States expanding northward. The Fenians continued to thrive in both American and Ireland and conducted another raid into Canada in 1870, lead again by a Civil War veteran and later the Red River Rebellion.
Information provided by The Regimental Bulletin
Photo provided by Stepahnie Ann Farra
Judah P. Benjamin portrayed by Cody Knotts
Judah Benjamin (1811-1884) was born in the Danish West Indies, but immigrated to the United States as a boy and rose to prominence as an attorney and politician, first as a senator from Louisiana and, during the Civil War, as Attorney General, Secretary of War, and finally Secretary of State of the Confederacy. Benjamin campaigned for European recognition of the Confederacy, oversaw the Confederate Secret Service, and has been suspected of involvement in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. At the end of the war, Benjamin rebuilt his life in Europe, serving as a barrister in England until his death.
Cody Knotts relies on decades of political experience and extensive historical knowledge to bring to life the enigmatic “dark prince of the Confederacy.” He has portrayed Judah P. Benjamin for events in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and West Virginia, recently serving as featured speaker for the Central Pennsylvania Civil War Roundtable’s Christmas meeting. Cody is a director, producer, writer, and actor. A native of Taylorstown, Pennsylvania, he previously served as the editor of the “Weekly Recorder,” a newspaper covering Pennsylvania and national politics which helped free two individuals who had been wrongly accused of murder. He was also a two-time candidate for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. As a young man, Knotts was chosen by the Boy Scouts of America as the first recipient of the Handicapped Awareness Merit badge because of his devotion to disabled students and his Eagle Scout project helped inspire the national Scouting for Food program.
Rose O’Neal Greenhow portrayed by Emily Lapisardi
Rose O’Neal Greenhow (1814?-1864) was a lady of society living in Washington, D.C. during and before the American Civil War who developed a network of Confederate agents which provided information to General Beauregard and others. A native of Maryland, she counted politicians such as James Buchanan, John C. Calhoun, William H. Seward, and Jefferson Davis among her friends and was related to James and Dolley Madison, Stephen Douglas, and Roger Taney.
Mrs. Greenhow and her spy ring were credited by Jefferson Davis with ensuring the southern victory at the First Battle of Manassas. Arrested by Allan Pinkerton, she was imprisoned in her home and the Old Capitol Prison for nine months before being released to the South in June 1862. Her requests for a public trial were never granted because of fears that she would reveal her high-ranking sources in Lincoln’s government. She drowned off the coast of North Carolina while attempting to run the blockade on her return from an unofficial Confederate diplomatic mission to Europe and was buried with full military honours by the Confederacy.
Emily Lapisardi has appeared as Rose Greenhow at numerous national, civil war and historical events and conferences. Her Civil War Sesquicentennial bookings included: Petersburg National Battlefield (NPS), the Manassas 150th commemoration (featured speaker at General Beauregard’s headquarters), the Clarksburg, WV, Civil War weekend, the Chevy Chase Historical Society, the Butler County Civil War Roundtable, Rimersburg Civil War Weekend, and the Greater Pittsburgh Civil War Roundtable.
In the summer of 2005, she participated in events for the promotion of Wild Rose: Civil War Spy with its author, Ann Blackman, including programs at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D. C, the Arts Club of Washington, and The Wilderness Bed and Breakfast in Catonsville, MD. She has also exchanged barbs with Joanne Shelby-Klein as Mary Todd Lincoln in “Sparring Socialites.”
In July 2006, Miss Lapisardi performed as Rose Greenhow at Manassas National Battlefield to commemorate the 145th anniversary of the First Battle of Manassas. An audiobook featuring Emily reading Rose Greenhow’s memoir, My Imprisonment and the First Year of Abolition Rule at Washington, was produced in cooperation with the O’Neal Genealogy Association and she is currently one of the editors for the forthcoming Rose Greenhow’s My Imprisonment: Annotated Edition.
Emily Lapisardi has presented historical impersonations in nine states and the District of Columbia. She has extensive experience as a singer, actor, dancer, and pianist. In addition to her historical impersonations, she has portrayed “Rosie the Riveter” for the Heinz History Center and has portrayed “Bond Girl” Solitaire by commission for the International Spy Museum. Emily holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from West Virginia University, where she was named a WVU Foundation Outstanding Senior, Honors College J. C. Nath Outstanding Senior, and received the university’s nomination for the Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships.
She is currently executive director of Market Street Arts, an arts education center in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, and director of music ministry at the Churcho of St. Paul in Greensburg, PA. Emily has participated in prestigious opera training programs including the Ezio Pinza Council for American Singers of Opera (Italy), American Institute of Musical Studies (Austria), and American Singers’ Opera Project (North Carolina). She has attended numerous national and international conferences, presented a paper on Historical Impersonation as a modern form of interactive theatre at the International Society for the Study of European Ideas Conference 2000 in Bergen, Norway, and received the Communal Studies Association’s research fellowship for her work on Harmonist hymnody.
Additionally, Emily founded the vocal music program, demonstrated sericulture, and served on the board at Old Economy Village, where she was named Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission 2006 Volunteer of the Year.
Interested in becoming a sponsor for the event? Contact us at 610-756-6469.