We invite you to join us in stepping outside your comfort zone to consider other perspectives and ideas. Our programs portray historical figures with various opinions, some opposite our own. The presentations reflect the character's time socially, philosophically, politically, and in language usage.
“John Ritchie: Radical of Radicals”
Abolitionist, Underground Railroad Conductor, and Equal Rights Advocate
On July 27, 1859, the editor of the Leavenworth Times newspaper, describing the delegates to the Wyandotte Constitution Convention wrote: "We cannot close without notice of the man who dares to take the somewhat unpopular ground of extreme Radical. Of such who lean that way, there are more than one perhaps, but the Radical of Radicals is John Ritchie …”
John Ritchie brought his wife Mary Jane and two small children, son Hale and daughter Mary, to Kansas Territory in the spring of 1855. There was no apparent reason for the successful businessman from Franklin, Indiana to uproot his family, move west, and start again. What brought him was the inner fire of abolitionism, a belief shared by Mary Jane. They were determined that this Kansas Territory would be free as had been promised 34 years earlier. This promise was broken with the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which opened the door for slavery in Kansas.
Ritchie, who would become a friend of the fiery John Brown, made his new Kansas home a “station” on the Underground Railroad, fought for equal rights for all, and worked to end slavery forever. He’d be honored to tell you his story!
"All Nations Welcome Except Carrie ..."
Temperance Movement Leader
said the sign hanging above the neat row of bottles behind the bar. Carry Amelia Nation, born in Kentucky in 1846 and living much of her life in Kansas, became the best-known advocate for the prohibition of alcohol in the county. Mrs. Nation began her crusade by singing hymns to tavern patrons to persuade them to change their chosen refreshment. Her methods became ever stronger until she saw no course but the physical destruction of bar fixtures, and the interruption of the saloon keeper’s business to get her point across. Let Mrs. Nation tell you how she would come to be willing to endure mob attacks, and several arrests for her “hatchetations”, believing herself justified to rid the country of alcohol that early on shaped her life. She may convince you to join her and become one of her “Home Defenders”!
"The Johnson's Visit the Wornalls"
" From Missionary to Murder: A Visit with the Johnson's"
The Reverend Thomas Johnson and Sarah Johnson
founders of the
Shawnee Indian Mission School
"A Visit with the Johnson's" introduces you to the Reverend Thomas and Sarah Johnson (yes, the namesake of Johnson County, Kansas), an engaging couple who began their missionary work with the Shawnee Indians in 1830. You will meet them at a turbulent time in Kansas history, long after they established the first and then the second Shawnee Indian Mission School when two of three sons are at war, their daughters are nearby, and danger is everywhere.
The scene of “The Johnson’s Visit the Wornall’s” is the Westport, Missouri home of John and Eliza Wornall in December 1864. Eliza is the daughter of Thomas and Sarah Johnson and they join with you, a small party of guests, at the Wornall home for a brief respite from the War as Christmas approaches. This evening of gaiety will turn to tragedy for the Johnson family in a few short days.
"From Frontier Post to Thriving Community"
Hiero T. and Elizabeth C. Wilson
"From Frontier Post to Thriving Community" traces the exciting history of Fort Scott from its beginning as an Army post west of the United States to a pro-slave community in the Kansas Territory, then Union to Civil War supply center, and finally into a post-Civil War railroad town. Hiero Tennant Wilson, "the father of Fort Scott", and his wife Elizabeth Clay Wilson, were a part of all of these changes. Journey with the Wilson's as they work to help "the Crack Post of the Frontier" grow into an economic center in southeast Kansas spanning the period from 1842 to 1870.
"Lincoln's Fifth Wheel: The People's Love for the People's Army"
George Templeton Strong and Mrs. Catharine Dix
tell the story of the
United States Sanitary Commission
Women's Central Association of Relief
Through the eyes of George Templeton Strong and Mrs. Catharine Dix, you'll see how those who watched their men go off to war supported their soldiers who went to fight to preserve the Union. Their two organizations, the United States Sanitary Commission and the Women's Central Association of Relief, along with thousands of aid societies formed by the ladies in the North, combined their efforts to comfort the wounded, both Union and Confederate, and to assure the soldier in the field that they were supported at home. The doubts of 1861 about these organizations had turned to praise by 1865, with thanks from thousands of soldiers and accolades from generals, including General Ulysses S. Grant, for their work. New York attorney George Templeton Strong, Treasurer of the Commission, and Mrs. Catharine Dix of the Women's Central Association of Relief will be delighted to tell you this little-known story of our Civil War. And yes, the
U. S. Sanitary Commission operated in Kansas!
The United States Sanitary Commission Field Relief Station
(Civil War Reenactments, Encampments, and other outdoor venues only)
Stop by the U. S. Sanitary Commission camp to hear about and see how the people at home in the North support their men who have answered President Lincoln's call to put down the rebellion. "A package a month for the boys" is the standard that the women of the various aid societies that support us have set, to show our Union troops that they are missed, and supported by the people back home.
Our Program Format
Dressed in attire appropriate to the character and their time, George and Diane Bernheimer bring each of these people of our history into the present. Each portrayal is based on research, and study of primary sources such as journals, letters, diaries, and biographies of the person, their family members, and contemporaries. Whenever possible, the characters own words are used in the presentation. Each character speaks of the historical, political, and social setting of their era and their part in it. The audience is then given the opportunity to interact with the character by asking questions, or by engaging in dialogue while still in the period of the character. The character is then "broken", and members of the audience have the opportunity to ask questions of the presenters concerning their research, and other relevant topics. Each presentation lasts 40-50 minutes, including questions.
Our programs are appropriate for several themes beyond Kansas history and the Civil War. For example Civil War on the home front, western expansion, and Antebellum America. Please contact us to discuss which program will meet your specific needs. The presentation format and some portrayals can be adapted to meet the needs of various venues, events, and groups.
To see what some of our hosts have said about our performances, see some of the Testimonials here.