Beyond the Grave
Beyond the cemeteries where Calumet Region Civil War veterans rest are these South Shore sites with Civil War ties:
Memorial Opera House
104 Indiana Ave., downtown Valparaiso
Hours of operation: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday; and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
From The Times of Northwest Indiana:
The 118-year-old structure has hosted the likes of Teddy Roosevelt, John Phillips Sousa, the Marx brothers and Beulah Bondi and has been a home to hundreds of local productions and events during its years.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks, the Memorial Opera House was built as a memorial hall to pay tribute to Union soldiers and sailors who fought in the Civil War.At the end of the war, said Brian Schafer, opera house director, the state gave each county $1,000 to build a monument to honor Civil War veterans.
However, the Chaplain Brown Post 106 of the Grand Army of the Republic wanted more than a monument. It lobbied the state until 1890 to include the use of the money for the construction of memorial halls. The idea was to build a hall that could be used by the entire community. Construction began in 1893 with the GAR raising an additional $9,000 to complete the brick building at 104 Indiana Ave.The building was completed Nov. 8, 1893, and its opening was marked by a parade three days later on Nov. 11, 1893.
The hall was also the headquarters for the local GAR post. Owned and operated by Porter County since the early 1920s, the building has undergone several renovations and is slated for additional renovations in the near future, Schafer said.
The Hesston Steam Museum
1201 E. 1000 N., LaPorte
Hours of operation: Weekend (visit www.hesston.org for exact dates and times)
The Hesston Steam Museum hosts an annual summer event known as "Civil War Railroad Days." Civil War reenactment groups in full Union and Confederate regalia recreate war-era train raids, incorporating the intelligence from Union Army spies on planned raids of supply trains by Confederate troops. This ends up being a fun and educational experience for Civil War buffs, budding historians and families looking for a fun weekend activity. In 2012, the event is scheduled to begin at 11:30 am CDT June 23 and 24, running until 5 pm each night. For more information on the museum and the event, visit www.hesston.org.
Porter County Museum of History
153 Franklin Street, downtown Valparaiso
Hours of operation: 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
In addition to other historical items and artifacts, the museum hosts a Civil War room exhibit containing portions of Civil War uniforms, soldier diaries and a drum that belonged to Winfield Brewer, who joined the 99th Indiana Infantry at the age of 14 and served as regimental drummer boy. By 2012, the museum also is scheduled to be the steward of some of the old marble headstones of Civil War veterans buried in Valparaiso whose grave sites received new granite stones in 2011 .
Three Creeks Monument
Commercial Avenue (Route 2) in Lowell
The Three Creeks Monument was erected in 1905 by the Indiana governor and the Grand Army of the Republic fraternal organization. The granite monument stands 25 feet high with a 9-foot base and contains the name of men from three south Lake County townships who fought in the Civil War. Nine of the men listed on the monument received new granite headstones in 2011 through the efforts of the Calumet Region Civil War Preservation Project. Those nine men are all buried in nearby Lowell Memorial Cemetery, also located on Route 2.
Old Lake County Courthouse
Main and Joliet (U.S. 231), downtown Crown Point square
This historic architectural icon of Lake County was literally built by a Civil War veteran. Henry W. Wise, a sergeant from Company C of the 99th Indiana Infantry who survived the war, returned to Lake County and founded the Henry Wise Brickyard in Crown Point. The brickyard produced 500,000 bricks for the original central portion of the courthouse. After the war, the courthouse lawn was a regular parade ground for members of the Grand Army of the Republic, with marches sometimes led by Henry Wise himself. The courthouse steps also were the common staging area for the 99th Indiana's regimental reunion photos.
Merrillville Ross Township Historical Society Museum
104 13 W. 73rd Ave, Merrillville
Hours of Operation: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays, May through October.
The museum has a tri-fold exhibit featuring photos and information on the 99th Indiana Infantry, which included Civil War soldiers from both Lake (Company A) and Porter (Company C) counties. The museum also sells copies of Alice Smedstad's book, "Soldiers & Veterans Memorialized at the Merrillville Cemetery," which documents more than 30 Civil War veterans buried at a cemetery located a short distance east of the museum. All book sales benefit the museum.