Gettysburg celebration gets bigger; special surprise

ALPENA -Alpena’s celebration of the sesquicentennial anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is going to be a larger event than what was planned originally. Beginning Nov. 18 and continuing through Nov. 21, there will be a series of guest speakers, a display of relics, and a portrayal of the delivery of the famous speech.

Since Dr. Greg Adamus, who is on the Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan board of trustees, announced the event to celebrate Lincoln’s address, others have stepped up to add to the collection of artifacts, provide entertainment and add a touch of theater to it. Adamus said when Lincoln is welcomed to Alpena the afternoon of Nov. 19 via a special parade, it should resemble the setting in Gettysburg 150 years ago.

Adamus said for the event the Thunder Bay cast members are going to wear clothing from the Civil War era and will follow Lincoln, who will be riding horse back, into the downtown. He said the Lockwood Post of the Sons of Union veterans also will be dressed in historic attire and provide color guard in front of Lincoln, as well as Mayor Matt Waligora and museum Executive Director Chris Witulski who will be escorting the former president.

After Lincoln delivers his address, between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., Dr. Avery Aten will perform Civil War era music on his Hammer Dulcimer. Adamus said he is pleased by the response he has received from the local businesses community and the educational system in Alpena. He said Lincoln’s parade and address are only a small part of the entire event. He said the museum will have a satellite display set up at the First Congregational United Church of Christ on Second Avenue that will feature historic pieces, including a piece of clothing worn by Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, the night her husband was assassinated.

“We are lucky to have the shawl she wore the evening of her husbands death,” Adamus said. “It is a priceless artifact that has been handed down from generation to generation and one day could end up in the Smithsonian Institute. It was graciously donated to us for one day only by Eugene Seeley of Topinabee and Donna Niedermeier of The Cheboygan County History Center.”

The two women acquired the shawl in 1980 after it had been passed down many times since Lincoln’s death. Adamus said Bob Skuse, owner of Bob’s Gun Shop, has committed several Civil War antiques, including weapons that were used. Wind Song, which is a flute quartet in Alpena is also going to perform after Adamus makes his lecture at the church on Nov. 19. Other speakers include Don Londo on Nov. 18 and Dr. Olin Joynton on Nov. 20. All of the events are free.

For more information and a complete schedule call the museum at 356-2202

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at