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History buff teaches about the Civil War

May 12, 2011|By Katherine Yamada
  • Several Civil War veterans who settled in the West will be honored at a living history presentation in Crescenta Valley Park on May 21. Among those is Henry Mingay, of Glendale. He died in 1947 and is buried in Grand View Memorial Park. In the photo, circa 1940s, Mingay sits with his medals and citations. (Courtesy Special Collections, Glendale Public Library)
Several Civil War veterans who settled in the West will…

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, a conflict that raged for four years. After the war, many veterans moved West to start a new life, and that movement will be highlighted May 21 at “From War to Reconciliation — Moving On and Moving West” at Crescenta Valley Park.

Organized by the Crescenta Valley and Little Landers historical societies, the living history presentation will introduce some of those Civil War veterans who came West. One of them is Henry Mingay, who settled in Glendale.

Jeff Lawson, of Glendale, plans to participate in the living history event.

Although he will be dressed as a soldier in a Vermont regiment, he’ll also be paying tribute to Mingay of Glendale.

Organizers asked Lawson to provide information on Glendale’s link to the war.

“It is often surprising for us Westerners that there is any connection at all, but many veterans came West after the war,” Lawson said.

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Through his preliminary digging to find a Glendale link, Lawson discovered Mingay, a young man from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., who joined the Union forces and served with the “Fighting Sixtyninth.” After the war, Mingay came to Glendale, living at 804 E. Elk Ave. He died in 1947 and was buried at Grand View Memorial Park, according to his obituary, on file in Special Collections.

In his quest to find out more about Mingay, Lawson contacted me and in subsequent emails explained how his interest in the Civil War began.

“Ken Burns is mostly to blame,” he said.

Burns’ PBS documentary on the Civil War inspired Lawson to travel to Gettysburg, Pa., in 1993 for a reenactment of Pickett’s Charge.

“After that trip, I was hooked,” he said. “All I ever read to this day is historical literature about the war, or soldiers who fought in the war.”

In 2002, when his daughter was in second grade at Balboa Elementary, her teacher, Shirley Manning, asked Lawson to make a presentation.

“Of course, I didn’t need any prompting. As a graphic designer, I made up sets of postcards with historical figures, maps, cotton, etc., and bought enough hardtack (biscuits, from the last original bakery that actually made the stuff during the war) to give out samples to the class.”

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