Folks gear up for 'Civil War' Grand Ball

Folks gear up for 'Civil War' Grand Ball
By: Carly O'keefe

MURPHYSBORO, Ill. - With every stitch, seamstress Sandy Schlueter is that much closer to the past. "The Civil War is something that has been fascinating to all of us," said Schlueter.
Schlueter volunteers her talents as a seamstress for the John A. Logan Museum in Murphysboro, Illinois. Usually, she sews period costumes for display; but lately she's had her hands full sewing ball gown after ball gown.
It started with a friend asking Schlueter to sew a Civil War gown for the first annual General Logan Grand Ball. "I said, well, if we're going to have a ball, I have to have a dress too. So I started mine. By February, we knew everybody was going to have one," said Schlueter.
Since February Schlueter has sewn 10 elaborate ball gowns, and she's still stitching. "Right now I've got another one started, and I've got to put the hoops in that slip, and finish this gown, and finish the one for my friend--all before Wednesday. But I'll get it done," said Schlueter.
As more of Schlueter's gowns are completed, excitement grows for the grand gala among those wearing them. "We were talking about well, how are we going to get to the event in these dresses? With the hoops, I think the circumference on my hoop is 168 inches, and that's big! So I have gone out and rented a horse and carriage to arrive in style," said Debbie Tindall, one of the Grand Ball organizers.
But the event isn't just about dressing up in Civil War era couture; it's about raising money for the John A. Logan Museum in Murphysboro, and hopefully bringing tourists to town. "In three, four, five years, we see this being a major component of John A. Logan Days and we're wanting to do an outreach to other communities that are very involved with Civil War history," said Tindall. "That way we'd be able to create a tourist attraction as well as just an event for folks that live here locally."
While it's been a lot of work for Schlueter, she says it's been worth it to transform local ladies into belles of the ball. "I'm hoping to have it again next year," said Schlueter. "And I know I'll have a new dress!"
The General Logan Grand ball is Saturday May 19, starting at 6:30. Tickets are $20 at the door, $15 in advance. Advanced tickets are available through the John A. Logan Museum. For more information call (618) 684-3455.
If you don't have a civil war ball gown to wear to the event, you're simply asked to wear formal attire. In case you're a little rusty on the dance steps of the 1860's, lessons will be provided before the ball.