Linda Herring stopped watching television four years ago.
That's when she got "sort of addicted" to researching her family's Civil War veterans, she said, and found herself spending her evenings and free time on historical, rather than electronic, pursuits.
Herring is now an organizing force for St. John's Lutheran Church's Heritage Day, coming up Aug. 27. It will be a day for remembering the past, celebrating veterans and learning about the people who lived in this area 150 years ago.
Her research, Herring said, began when she wanted to learn about two great-grandfathers and a great-great-grandfather who are buried in the St. John's cemetery. All of them served in the Civil War.
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As she collected information, compiling a scrapbook of family history, she expanded her search to uncles, cousins and other Civil War veterans.
St. John's cemetery is hundreds of years old. Among the graves are 70 belonging to Civil War veterans. Linda Herring helped identify those graves so the Sons of Confederate Veterans could place markers on them.
But Herring and others realized those graves represented just a portion of the local men who had served in the Civil War. So she continued to search.
From birth and baptism records, she has identified about 250 Civil War veterans who had connections to St. John's Lutheran. She's used census and park service records to verify names, birthdates and places of birth for all these men.
Herring pointed out that the effect of hundreds of men leaving this small community 150 years ago is hard to overestimate. The war had a tremendous impact on this area, and Heritage Day is meant to remember the service of local soldiers and the families they left behind.
Heritage Day will begin at 10 a.m. It will feature a Confederate encampment, drills and demonstrations. Inside the church fellowship building will be displays and demonstrations from a variety of craftspeople.
Visitors are also welcome to tour the church's Heritage Center, sanctuary and cemetery, where guides will be available to help you find your veteran's grave. For a full schedule of the day's events, call the church at 704-436-6081 or visit www.stjohnslutheranchurch.net.
The pastor at St. John's, the Rev. Dr. Mark Ericson, said he really likes the idea of involving the entire community in Heritage Day. The Civil War touched every family in this area, not just members of St. John's, and he thinks people will be interested to learn more about their ancestors.
When he looks at his congregation today, Ericson said, he can still sense the pioneer spirit. Celebrating our heritage is a way to find the source of that spirit and to appreciate the values learned from those pioneers.