Cross Keys, Carpet Bag and Pen
On Saturday, Oct. 15, the County Line Historical Society of Wayne/Holmes will host Kathryn Hardgrove Popio, who will bring her collection of hats to introduce the many lively characters from her new book of Civil War letters titled, “Cross Keys, Carpet Bag and Pen.” The program will begin at 1:00 p.m. at the historic Shreve Presbyterian Church.October 1858 in Massillon Village (2 years before the Civil War): Newly-widowed traveler Margaret Jackson Hardgrove, a cousin of President Andrew Jackson, returned from weeks-long visits with old friends and family in Pennsylvania to begin the next version of life, but without a house of her own. From then on, home would be in Mt. Vernon with son William, Massillon Village with newly-wed daughter Harriet and on the Pigeon Run farm south of Massillon with daughter Mary. Enjoying activities of characters in each household and community where she and carpet bag settled, her pen rolled out banquets of details describing their everyday life and social experiences. Eventually, when talk of war turned into reality, youngest son John Henry was more than ready to not only enlist, but also recruit two cousins. From their various regimental sites, “Henry” took pen to paper at every opportunity. As his letters of first-hand adventures or miseries were shared and passed along on the home front, the families’ caring support, month after month, kept everyone involved. Finally, as War ever-so-slowly wound down, young mother Sabina Hardgrove, tearfully wrote by candle light of struggles with empty cupboards, meager wages and news of more tragic casualties of war. Popio, a local author, educator and historian resides in Wadsworth, taught at Kent State and Akron University for over 20 years and is author of more than 100 of the history features appearing in the Medina Gazette’s special history “tabs.” She was also the Gazette’s weekly Religion columnist for 9 years. Popio also helped start Medina’s “Spirits of the Past,” in which actors annually portrayed Medina County’s historical characters and events around Medina Square. It is now enjoying its 25th anniversary. The church is located at 343 N. Market St. Shreve. Admission is free and open to the public.