A grocery store out in 21Country is offering something new in its aisles…a little education, along with the jams and jellies.
Avilla's Mid-Town Market is a staple for local grocery shoppers, but you get more than meat and potatoes when you walk through its doors.
If you have a few minutes to spare, you get a trip back in time as well.
Reenactor Ron Mertz says, “It's just a passion you have inside you I guess, you don't have it or you do.”
The Mid-Town Market houses 21Country's newest Civil War Museum...begun by some very passionate great, great-grandsons of the confederacy.
There is a spectacular collection of Civil War artifacts here, many of them laid out in displays that graphically illustrate how they were used.
Mertz says, “What we set up here is a camp scene. This would be like the front of an officer’s tent. We have his desk...a reproduction of what an officer’s tent might look like.”
Ron Mertz and Gary Wade are Civil War reenactors, representing the men of the confederate 50th Virginia Company.
Both Ron and Gary had relatives in the 50th Virginia.
One of Ron's ancestors was the legendary Abraham Bonnifield, a confederate cavalry soldier born without legs.
Gary Wade's great, great-grandfather was the 50th Virginia's captain.
Reenactor Gary Wade says, “Here's a copy of his enlistment papers and he signed with an 'x' with a witness. He was illiterate when the war started, but yet he learned to read and write as the war progressed. He lived a very simple life. He rose to the occasion when he felt it was necessary. He went back to civilian life and was literally never heard from again.”
Gary Wade had 44 ancestors in the confederate army.
And while the reenacting is fun he says…the uniforms and travel and camaraderie...it is the personal stories, their ancestors stories, that touch them deeply.
Wade says, “My family fought with Stonewall, with Jeb Stuart, and I just found out I had a great, great-uncle that went across Pickett’s Charge with Armistead...yes he was wounded.”
This museum offers any history buff plenty of reasons to stop in and visit.
But for these soldiers of the 50th Virginia Reeanctors, this is a personal mission to preserve the memory of their ancestors and by doing so, learn more about themselves.
Mertz says, “Like the old saying goes, you forget history you're doomed to repeat it. But I think it's important to know our ancestors, how they lived and why they believed the things they did.”
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