If you stop by the Eastern Cabarrus Historical Society Museum anytime in the coming weeks, you'll likely come upon a flurry of activity and historical research.
Society members have undertaken an ambitious project to find records of every Civil War veteran who enlisted in Cabarrus County.
It all began when St. John's Lutheran Church asked for the historical society's help in finding records for church members who served in the war. St. John's is planning a special Heritage Day later this month.
Since this year is the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, church member Linda Herring began gathering information on Civil War veterans buried at St. John's. Then she extended her list to church members who served but were buried elsewhere. As the search expanded, the folks at St. John's turned to the Eastern Cabarrus Historical Society for help.
When I stopped by the museum, Lisle Crayton and Vickey Cline were searching records, scanning pictures, making copies and taking phone calls, all in pursuit of information about the men from this area who went off to war.
Though they began by finding information for veterans with a connection to St. John's, the women decided it would be fun to expand their search to all of Cabarrus County. Their goal now is to compile the information in a book, profits from which would benefit the museum.
Thus far, Crayton and Cline have found 50 pictures of Cabarrus County Civil War soldiers and biographical information on hundreds more. They estimate, however, that they probably are searching for thousands of people who served.
Along with the facts, they're finding interesting and moving stories.
During my visit, I learned that Company H of the 8th N.C. Infantry Regiment was organized in August 1861 in Mount Pleasant, in the front room of what is now the museum (at the time the Western North Carolina Male Academy) by students, professors and local residents. The roster prepared in honor of the company's 50th reunion in 1915 listed 159 men.
There are also stories of men killed in the war who never saw their infant children, and of the terrible dilemma faced by soldiers who wanted to serve but also felt the obligations of family and farms at home. These men would leave the war to tend to the crops, only to face charges of desertion. Cline calls the letters and stories "heartbreaking."
The museum houses a vast amount of information on Civil War veterans, but Crayton and Cline know even more stories, memorabilia and photos are out in the community. They urge anyone with a connection to a Civil War veteran to contact the museum to help them compile this important history of our area.
Contact information is available at the society's website, www.echsm.net, or call the museum at 704-436-6612.