OUS kicks off inaugural Freedom Festival

Published 12:41 am Sunday, September 21, 2008

“If you didn’t die from one thing, you died from another,” Kate Boykin, an Ironton resident, said she learned during the first day of Ohio University Southern campus’ Freedom Festival.

The lecture was titled “Binding up the nation’s wounds; healing the slaves, nursing the boys in blue and gray and looking ahead to the 20th century in medicine” and was prepared by the OUS nursing school a part of a series of lectures.

Boykin said she learned illnesses or bullets killed more than 600,000 soldiers during the five years of the Civil War.

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Annie Conwell, an Ironton resident, said she had a better understanding and appreciation for the nurses during the war after listening to the lecture.

“I never knew anything about the health care of the soldiers,” she said. “It never crossed my mind that they didn’t have the facilities to do what needed to be done. It’s very sad.”

Events such as the Freedom Festival are important because of the history the area has in the freedom of slaves, Conwell said.

“I don’t understand why this hasn’t been talked about because so much happened here,” she said. “This was a destination for slaves to come through here and today it doesn’t seem like it ever happened. The younger generations don’t know anything about it.”

McKenzie Evans-Schweickartz might disagree. She’s 9-years-old and attended the lectures with her father.

“I love learning history about Abe Lincoln,” she said. “I learned that some people got killed by medicines and diseases during the Civil War and that Abe Lincoln helped some of his friends.”

Bobbi Reid, an OU freshman who is attending the festival for college credits, said the lectures taught her more than she knew existed.

“In school, we don’t learn a lot,” she said. “We have black history month and we learn about the Underground Railroad, but not in-depth as what this weekend is.”

Betty Guthrie, an Ironton resident for 52 years, said she remembers her grandmother in Cincinnati talking about helping the slaves to freedom.

She said Lawrence County was right in the middle of the slave route to freedom and it should be pointed out.

“It helps to understand the history of the county and the country better,” Guthrie said. “It makes it more real and true to life.”

Participants also listened to the official Lincoln Leadership skills and management philosophy in “Times of Our Greatest crisis” and “Lincoln slept here – in my house.”

On Sunday, a Civil War camp meeting will be at the OUS Nature Center from 10 a.m. to noon.

A celebrity guest will be present at 3 p.m. and the Lincoln-Douglas debate will be presented at the OUS Nature Center followed by a Freedom rap at 8 p.m. on the OUS campus.

Monday at 11 a.m. the public is invited to the Lawrence County Courthouse to meet Abraham Lincoln and Sojourner Truth for storytelling, the reading of the Emancipation of Proclamation and a photo opportunity.

The schedule can be accessed at www.ohiou.edu.