hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


January 26, 2012

city's women behind the Civil War

City museum seeks stories of locals who did their part at home

The Buttonwoods Museum wants to resurrect some long-forgotten Haverhill history.

It has to do with events that took place far behind the front lines during the Civil War.

"Serve the Common Cause: Haverhill's Women in the Civil War," an exhibit planned by the museum for this summer, will expose visitors to the stories and struggles of the women and families left by behind by Haverhill's fathers and sons during the war.

These aren't stories the Buttonwoods hopes to tell alone, however, as the museum solicits donations of artifacts, photographs and other items that can be provided by Haverhill residents.

"It's a story that's not been told very often," museum curator Janice Williams said. "We're hoping to find enough stories about Haverhill women to really bring it home."

So far, the museum has collected 75 objects and images to display. The museum's seven volunteers expect to spend more than 150 hours piecing together histories and local legends of how Haverhill women helped in the war effort.

Two such stories include those of Nancy Buswell and Lucinda Worther.

Buswell, a hat maker by trade, knitted together a makeshift Old Glory out of hat materials for the Hale Guard in 1861. She made the flag after discovering the men in that fighting group from Haverhill lacked a flag. Williams said Buswell's flag and portrait will be on display for the exhibit.

Worther, a nurse for the Union, disguised herself as a solider and snuck into military units in order to find her brother. She was eventually caught by officers during a uniform inspection when, upon removing her cap, they saw her full head of hair.

Williams said these stories should draw families across the region to the museum and, hopefully, encourage them to share their own family stories or historical items.

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