Posted: Feb 9, 2013 11:23 AM by Elise Oggioni
Updated: Feb 9, 2013 11:54 PM
MARSHALL - Many Saline County residents came out to hear noted storytellers Saturday talk about what life was life for African-Americans in Missouri during th Civil War.
According to Virginia Huston, one of the speakers, 1/3 of the population of Saline County were slaves when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. She later said that some of the only ways for slaves to be freed from their masters was to enlist in the armies, something that slave owners tried to prevent through monetary compensation.
A list was also displayed that showed 332 men from Saline County who presented themselves into service during the Civil War after the Battle of Marshall.
Huston was the last resident of Pennytown, one of eleven purchases by black families in the area, and she said many African-Americans suffered persecution at the time in Saline County. Event Organizer Eric Crump said while the town of Pennytown may not be physically on a map, it is represented by the people who developed it.
"A lot have been ashamed or do not want to know about that era but we have to know what they did. They are our forefathers and we have to pass on what they did. We need to let go and let God," she said.
Huston also remarked that while freedom for minorities has come a long way, "we still have a long way to go."
Other speakers have examples of slave songs during the period, and some said bringing up slavery should be done so black history can be remembered.
"Slavery teaches us about life's possibility. I know that our rights did not come overnight, but the end of the Civil War was a beginning of getting those rights," Gladys Coggswell, one of the storytellers, said.
Saturday's lecture series was just one event in a year long commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Marshall. The commemorarte will culminate September 13-15th of this year with two battle recreations, a parade from the Marshall Square to Indian Foothills Park, camp tours and other lectures.
On the anniversary of the battle, October 13, 2013, local veterans organizations will host a ceremony to honor the sacrifices and suffering of soldiers who endured the battle and the struggles of the Civil War.