WADSWORTH — About 80 supporters of the Wadsworth Area Historical Society attended the society’s third annual fall fundraiser Saturday evening at Memory Lane Event Center on College Street.
The theme of this year’s event was “Notes on the Civil War.” President Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, were guests of honor, and historian and musician Steve Ball, accompanied by his wife, Lisa Ball, sang Civil War songs and told stories.
Guests ate a Civil War-era meal that included smoked chicken and potato hash. For dessert, they were served a version of Mary Todd Lincoln’s famous white almond cake. Silent-auction prizes included gift cards, homemade items and gift baskets.
Kate Smith, historical society spokesperson, said the annual fundraiser has brought in about $3,000 in past years. The money allows the historical society to offer free tours of its headquarters, the Johnson House Museum, built in the 1850s.
Also, the funds help the historical society host 15 events throughout the year at no charge to the public, Smith said.
The fundraiser wasn’t intended as a lead-in to Veterans Day, which was Sunday, but there was a connection. Before dinner, President Lincoln talked to the Medina Gazette about the soldiers who served during the Civil War.
“So many of those fellows gave up their lives,” Lincoln said. “We can’t thank our veterans enough for their sacrifice.”
During the event, President Lincoln relayed a story about a Union soldier who ended up settling in Medina County after the Civil War.
Also attending the fundraiser was Roger Havens, president of the Wadsworth Area Historical Society and principal at Franklin Elementary School. Havens grew up in Wadsworth and loves to talk about the town’s history.
“I am becoming a bit historical myself,” Havens joked.
Havens said he helped write a third-grade history book about Wadsworth. The book discusses the city’s pioneers, and the early sawmills, gristmills and coal mines.
“Wadsworth was the only community in Medina County to have coal beneath it,” Havens said. “Three-quarters of Wadsworth Township had coal.”
Railroad tracks laid to transport Wadsworth’s coal attracted factories and other businesses, and the city’s economy grew as a result, Havens said.