2017 - 2018 Campaign

Sept. 27, 2017 Meeting

"Border State Son: Harry S. Truman and the War Between the States"
David Schafer
During this program, David Schafer will describe what happened to Harry Truman's ancestors during the Civil War, and how that history influenced young Harry. Truman was a well-read amateur historian of the conflict. You will learn what Truman learned from his study of the Civil War, and how he applied that knowledge to his political career and presidency.
The American Civil War echoed through Harry Truman’s lifetime like the lingering notes of a distant trumpet. For Harry Truman, the war was always there as an ever-present reminder of his border state heritage. President Truman’s ancestors survived the war on the Missouri - Kansas border, but his family—especially his pro-Southern mother and grandmother—harbored grudges for the rest of their lives. Young Harry listened to his ancestors’ war stories and became fascinated with the war. Truman grew up revering Lee and Jackson, but in time came to admire Lincoln and Grant, too. His knowledge of Civil War history influenced his political career and informed some of his presidential decisions. In 1958, the former president helped found the Civil War Round Table of Kansas City and became the organization’s first speaker with his presentation of “An Amateur Historian’s View of the Civil War.”  


Dave Schafer grew up in Richmond, Kansas (a small town that is 35 miles south of Lawrence). Beginning in the fourth grade, Dave developed a great interest in the American Civil War.
He earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in history from Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas. (Bachelor of Science in Education with a history major and political science minor in 1985 and Master of Arts in History in 1987.)
Dave Schafer began his National Park Service career in 1987 at Fort Scott National Historic Site (NHS) in Kansas. Since then he has worked as a park ranger at other historic sites in Hawaii, Missouri, Texas, Puerto Rico, Oklahoma, and Kansas.
From 1992 to 1999, he worked as a park ranger at Harry S Truman National Historic Site in Independence, Missouri. During his time there, he led park visitors through President and Mrs. Truman’s home. While researching the history of President Truman, he kept finding references to the president’s interest in the Civil War. That research sparked his interest in the topic that he will present to the Civil War Round Table of St. Louis.
Since July of 2013 he has been serving as chief of interpretation and resource management at Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park in Texas. He oversees the park rangers providing interpretive programs and tours at the park, primarily at the Texas White House at the LBJ Ranch and the president’s boyhood home in Johnson City.
A list of parks where he has worked (including temporary assignments):
• Fort Scott National Historic Site (NHS) in KS (1987-1992).
U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, Honolulu, HI (1988).
Harry S Truman NHS, Independence, MO (1992-1999).
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Strong City, KS (1997). Temporary assignment.
Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, Johnson City, TX (1999-2006).
San Juan NHS, San Juan, Puerto Rico (2006). Temporary assignment.
Washita Battlefield NHS, Cheyenne, OK (2006-2009).
Brown v. Board of Education NHS, Topeka, KS (2009 to 2013).
Nicodemus NHS, Nicodemus, KS (2012-2013). This was a temporary assignment as acting superintendent.
Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, Johnson City, TX (2013 - present).

Oct. 25, 2017 Meeting

"The Cultural History of Death in America"
Paula Zalar

This talk and slide presentation traces the evolution of American mourning customs from the Colonial era to the present, and explains what anthropologists have called our “dual response” to death and grieving.  Zalar will explain how the Civil War shattered existing attitudes and behavior, and moved our broken society into new beliefs and practices.

NOTE:  This lecture, detailed and graphic, might be disturbing for some attendees.

Writer/speaker Paula Zalar offers first-person, costumed portrayals of famous Missouri figures, and others notable for their connection to our state’s history.  She has performed for Bellefontaine Cemetery, the Chatillon-Demenil Mansion, The Robert Campbell House Museum, and an array of organizations, groups, and societies. 

Zalar grew up in Missouri and Illinois. While researching in Montana for an article on the Blackfeet Indians, she literally bumped into a principal actor from the film, DANCES WITH WOLVES – and from this chance meeting she became a publicist for Native American actors, artists, and musicians.

In her years as a journalist covering Indian country, she’s written about Native America for an array of publications in the United States and abroad.  She’s been a judge for the “Miss Native America” pageant, a speech writer, consultant, and mentor for Native American projects. 

An award-winning writer, Zalar is currently editing a novel set in the “Shinin’ Times” of the St. Louis fur trade era.

“For the many years I lived in California I was always eager to return to the Midwest, immerse myself in our state’s rich history.  My family came to Missouri with Nathan Boone and a group of settlers via the Boonslick Trail in 1817.   For my ancestors’ two hundred years of investment in Missouri land and institutions, their time and history here, I consider myself an ‘absolute Missourian.”  I treasure who we are, and where we come from.  I wouldn’t live anywhere else.”

November 29, 2017 Meeting

"Julia Dent Grant and the Importance of Family"

Pam Sanfilippo
Education Director
Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library,
Museum & Boyhood Home

Julia Dent Grant, like her famous husband General and later President Ulysses S. Grant, has been both praised and criticized since her husband rose to fame during the Civil War. She has been credited with keeping him sober and accused of being a Southern sympathizer who owned slaves. Most historians do agree, however, that Ulysses and Julia shared a loving relationship that only ended with his death.

Although Julia Grant wrote her memoirs in the 1890s, they remained in manuscript form until Dr. John Y. Simon received permission from the family to edit and publish them in 1975. They serve as an ideal complement to Grant’s memoirs, providing insight into the personal lives of these two famous individuals.

Historian and educator Pam Sanfilippo will share excerpts from the biography she is currently writing on Julia Dent Grant. Her extensive research brings to light the story of Julia Grant, who was both a woman of her times and an equal partner with her husband.  

Pam Sanfilippo earned a B.A., summa cum laude, in American history from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, an M.A. in American history from Washington University in St. Louis, and has completed coursework for a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Pam worked as Historian and Education Director at Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site from 1995 until 2014, when she moved to Abilene, Kansas, to become Education Director at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum, and Boyhood Home. Moving from the home of a 19th century general who became president to the home and library of a 20th century general who became president has been a rewarding experience.

She is the author of numerous essays, articles, and publications, including “Eliza Johnson and Julia Dent Grant” in Wiley’s A Guide to First Ladies; “Grant and the Mexican-American War,” in Wiley’s A Guide to Reconstruction Presidents; and “Sunlight & Shadow: Free Space/Slave Space at White Haven,” in Her Past Around Us: Interpreting Sites for Women’s History. She served as Guest Editor for “America’s Civil War: Challenges, Perspectives, Opportunities,” a thematic issue of Cultural Resource Management, and since moving to Kansas wrote “Dreams of a Barefoot Boy,” a series of 16 articles for Newspapers in Education through the Salina Journal and other Kansas newspapers. Her biography of Julia Dent Grant will be published by Southern Illinois University Press as part of the Ulysses S. Grant Association’s World of U. S. Grant series.
Jan. 24, 2018 Meeting

Railroads During the War of the Rebellion

Robert J. Amsler, Jr.
This talk will discuss the status of the railroads during the civil war and their use as both strategic and tactical assets.

Robert Amsler is an attorney in St. Louis.  He is the past Commander of the Ulysses S. Grant Camp of the Sons of Union Veterans and Commander of the 2nd Missouri, the Sons of Veterans Reserve Unit. He has worked with the National Park Service at Whitehaven and The Old Courthouse in the past.

Feb. 28, 2018 Meeting

“Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men Who Fought It”

William Garrett Piston
Professor Emeritus
Missouri State University

Little remembered today outside Missouri, the August 10th Battle of Wilson’s Creek was one of three startling Confederate victories in the summer of 1861, the others being Bull Run/First Manassas in Virginia in July and Lexington, Missouri, in September.  Wilson’s Creek pitted Union forces under Nathaniel Lyon against a unique coalition, Confederates led by Ben McCulloch and Sterling Price’s Missouri State Guard, a pro-secessionist militia in a state yet to pass an ordinance of secession.  Occurring when men were rushing to participate, as they expected the conflict end by Christmas, Wilson’s Creek was also notable for the manner in which volunteer troops, North and South, fought to uphold the honor of the communities that had sent them off to war.      

William Garrett Piston retired in August 2017 after teaching for twenty-nine years in the Department of History at Missouri State University, where he specialized in the Civil War and American military history. 

A native of Tennessee, he received his B.A. and M.A. from Vanderbilt University, and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina.  He is a past president of the Civil War Round Table of the Ozarks and a member of the board of directors of the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Foundation. 

He is the author/coauthor of numerous books and articles, including Lee’s Tarnished Lieutenant: James Longstreet and His Place in Southern History; Portraits of Conflict; A Photographic History of Missouri in the Civil War; and Wilson’s Creek; The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men Who Fought It.  He is currently working on a history of Marmaduke’s January 1863 raid from Arkansas into Missouri, which resulted in the battles of Springfield and Hartville.

Copies of Piston's book Wilson’s Creek; The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men Who Fought It will be available for sale at our February meeting. The proceeds of sales will go to the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Foundation.
March 28, 2018 Meeting

"The Union Forever: The San Francisco Bay Area and the Civil War"

John P. Langellier, Ph.D.

As the year 1861 unfolded the United States experienced its gravest crisis.   Factions prepared to resolve their longstanding differences by force, the populations not only of the North and South but also of the West began to take sides. If the country faced its darkest hour in 1861, the coming rebellion not only cast its shadow over the East and South, but also West, particularly in strategically important California.  War clouds especially hovered above San Francisco.  Amidst rumors of secessionist plots to create an independent “Republic of the Pacific,” local Unionist leaders prepared the Bay Area for a Confederate attack.

The next four years would witness a flurry of activity. The history of the Civil War and the Golden Gate is lesser known than the many battles fought east of the Mississippi, yet it is a saga worth telling, and will be the subject of John P. Langellier, Ph.D.’s March 2017 presentation to the St. Louis Civil War Round Table.

John Phillip Langellier received both a BA and an MA in history and historical archeology with an emphasis on the Spanish Borderlands and American West from the University of San Diego He subsequently obtained his PhD from and Kansas State University in military history, with the completion of his dissertation “Bastion by the Bay: San Francisco's Military Heritage from Presidio to Park.”

His work experience included a dozen years with the United States Army with assignments to the Presidio of San Francisco, U.S. Army Hawaii, U.S. Army Europe, and the Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth. Further, he has served as director of Wyoming State Museums, on the core staff that founded the Autry Western Heritage Center, as deputy director of the Reagan Presidential Library, as well as more recently as executive director of Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott, and finally as the director of the Arizona Historical Society’s Central division in Tempe until his retirement in 2015 to pursue consulting, public appearances, and full time writing.

Dr. Langellier has published scores of articles and dozens of book with such diverse titles as El Presidio de San Francisco Under Spain and Mexico, Custer: The Man, The Myth, The Movies, and his latest work Fighting for Uncle Sam: Buffalo Soldiers in the Frontier Army. He also has served as a consultant and occasionally as a producer for films and television beginning with Apocalypse Now. He is most proud of three documentaries about blacks in the U.S. Army the most recent of which was For Love of Liberty, hosted by Halle Barry, for PBS.

April 25, 2018 Meeting

"Dred Scott: the Case for Collusion"

David T. Hardy
Tucson Attorney
In the judicial field, Dred Scott v. Sandford stands as the prime example of the law of unintended consequences. Chief Justice Taney sought to “stack the deck” in favor of slavery, create a perpetual roadblock to free-soilers and abolitionists, and squelch the rising Republican party. Instead, the decision fatally undercut Stephen Douglas’ campaign, ensured the election of Abraham Lincoln, and brought about the abolition of slavery.
But was this historic ruling the product of the lawyers’ collusion? The defendant, John Sanford, played so little a role in the case that the attorneys and the Court mis-spelled his last name as Sandford. All the evidence indicates that he had no claim to owning Scott; he had long since moved from St. Louis to New York City and become very wealthy there. The person who could assert a claim to Scott and thus should have been sued was his sister, Irene. And Irene had reasons to keep her name out of the case….

David T. Hardy is an attorney in solo practice, Tucson, AZ, and a member of the bar of the Arizona Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court, and a number of federal Circuit and District Courts. He has published five books and 26 law review articles, which have twice been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court and by 12 of the 14 U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals. One of the articles thus cited is Original Popular Understanding of the Fourteenth Amendment As Reflected in the Print Media of 1866-1868, 30 Whittier L. Rev. 695 (2009). Another article is Dred Scott, John San(d)ford, and the Case for Collusion, 41 Northern Ky L. Rev 37 (2014).

Mr. Hardy's book I’m from the Government, and I’m Here to Kill You: The True Human Cost of Official Negligence will be released in October 2017.
May 23, 2018 Meeting

"Dr. Mary Edwards Walker
and the Medal of Honor"

Lance Geiger
Mary Edwards Walker was presented with what has become one of the most controversial Medals of Honor in the history of the award. Mr Geiger will discuss the controversy surrounding her award in the context of her Civil War service, her award nomination, and other medals of the era."

Lance Geiger is an amateur historian who presents the popular YouTube channel  "The History Guy: Five Minutes of History," which has over 13000 subscribers.

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Join us for a Friendly & Fun Evening of Civil War History!

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We meet at:

2801 Telegraph Road
Mehlville (St Louis), MO 63125

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Doors open at 5:30

Meal served at 6:30

Presentation at 7:30
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