Cemetery Tour Explores Rahway Residents’ Participation In The Civil War

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RAHWAY—The Merchants and Drovers Tavern Museum Association’s annual “Ghosts of the Past” Rahway Cemetery Tour this year will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War in 1861.

This year’s “The Civil War Comes to Rahway” tour will focus on former residents of this city who fought and died for both the Union and Confederate causes. The tours will take place over two days, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 1-2 from noon to 4 p.m. in the Rahway Cemetery, St. Georges Avenue. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling the museum at 1-732-381-0441.

The tours begin on the museum grounds, located at 1632 St. Georges Avenue, at the corner of St. Georges and Westfield avenues. Visitors will walk through the cemetery to meet the “soldier ghosts” and hear the real-life stories of these war veterans and their families, who are all buried in Rahway Cemetery.

Alex Shipley, museum director and city historian noted, “Rahway has a very proud history of our citizens serving our nations military, particularly in the Civil War with dozens of interesting people and stories. For instance, James Bodwell was a Rahway resident who was the first New Jersey citizen to enlist in the Civil War. Another resident is Salem Dutchie, a youth who fought for the Confederacy and later became a prominent civil rights attorney championing integration for the newly freed slaves in Georgia. The highlight of the tour will be a section of the cemetery where as many as three dozen soldiers of the U.S. Colored Troops are buried and memorialized. Their unit’s inclusion in the war effort was a first in this country and we want to share their moving stories as part of this event.”

Portrayals and stories will also include those who served and supported our soldiers from home such as wives, mothers and townsfolk

In addition to the tours on Saturday, Oct. 1, author and local historian Ethel M. Washington will be on site to sign her newly published book “Union County’s Black Soldiers and Sailors of the Civil War”. Washington’s well-documented research tells the story and shares the photographs of the many brave men, former slaves, who fought and died for the very country that long-denied them equality.

The tours – suitable for all ages – begin at noon on both days. The final tour of the day will leave at 4 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the museum gift shop and are $10 for adults, $8 for members and seniors, $5 for students under 18 and free to children under 5. For more information, call Shipley at 1-732-381-0441, or visit www.merchantsanddrovers.org for directions.


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