Civil War life lives on in Oak Brook
The troops ready to shoot during the Civil War reenactment atthe Graue Mill. | Joe Cyganowski~ For Sun Times Media
Updated: October 7, 2012 6:43AM
OAK BROOK — For the 32nd consecutive year, the past took over the present for two days at Graue Mill and Museum.
In what has become a tradition over Labor Day weekend, the 10th Illinois Regiment and its members’ families literally set up camp Sept. 1-2 and very much simulated the life of soldiers and others in a Union military camp in 1863. The setup included authentic clothing, weapons and tools.
The two-day event at Graue Mill, which was open to the public, was what the 10th Illinois Regiment calls a “living history.” The group also participates elsewhere in “reenactments,” which include battles.
While there were no battles at Graue Mill, there were several black powder firing demonstrations and drills to go along with cooking and crafts. And members of the 10th Illinois Regiment, dressed in appropriate costumes of the time, were more than happy to share information with visitors about life during the Civil War.
“The living history is a reenactment of camp life,” said Bob Winter, executive officer of the 10th Illinois Regiment. “There are about 45 of us in this company. We share a love of history, and we love to share the knowledge of the Civil War with others.”
Winter said Graue Mill offers a great location for a living history weekend.
“It’s in suburbia, but it doesn’t fee like it at all,” he said. “This is a great setting, and it’s great taking people back in history. I’m always learning things myself, too.”
Cathy Kolessar, Graue Mills’ director of operations, said the Civil War living history is a wonderful event for Graue Mill.
Leslie Goddard, executive director of Graue Mill, said the annual living history there is different than many others.
“It’s just one regiment, so it’s very personal, and the people who come really have a great opportunity to talk to them and interact,” Goddard said.
Tom Bozek of Downers Grove has attended a number of reenactments of different wars. He attended the Graue Mill event Sept. 1 with his sons, Quinn, 12, and Owen, 7.
“I like coming to things like this because of the historical aspect,” Bozek said. “You can really emerge yourself into this.”
Quinn said he enjoys learning about wars in a living history or reenactment setting. “It’s interesting, and it’s pretty cool,” he said.
Owen knew exactly what his favorite part was of the Graue Mill activities.
“I like when they shoot the guns,” he said.