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The Adams Historical Society was given this 150-year-old fife that was played during the Civil War by Judge Bullard, who had been a member of the Adams GAR post.

Fife Donation Inspires Adams Historical Society Civil War Concert

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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Judge Bullard playing his fife, now donated to the Adams Historical Society.

ADAMS, Mass. — Two sisters in search of information about a Civil War ancestor have gifted the Historical Society with an instrument he carried through the Civil War.

The fife will be on display Saturday afternoon during a concert of Civil War-era songs in the Grand Army of the Republic Hall on the top floor of the Adams Free Library.

Society member Eugene Michalenko said the acquisition of the 150-year-old fife really came out nowhere and all started with the women's visit to the GAR Hall, one of the few left in the state.

"They wanted to see the GAR Hall and they left their names because they were interested in their ancestor who was a member," Michalenko said. "Luckily enough, we still have all of the original application forms for those who wanted to become members."

Michalenko said he found a man named Judge Bullard enlisted as a private in H Company, 27th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers, in August 1862. He re-enlisted in January 1864 and was later captured by Confederates and held as a prisoner in South West Creek, N.C., in March and April of 1865.

Bullard played the fife in the drum corps during this time. He left the service at the end of the war in 1865 and joined George E. Sayles GAR Post 126 in 1874. The GAR was the first national veterans group and was largely made up of former enlisted men. It was established in 1866 and dissolved in 1956 upon the death of its last member. It had nearly a half-million members at its peak.

Michalenko said he wrote the two sisters with this information (one lives in Rhode Island and the other lives in Colrain) and they wrote back.

"They got back and said they have this fife that has been in their family and no one wanted it," he said. "They wanted to find a home for it and they figured this would be the best place."

The sisters had a photograph of an elderly Bullard playing the brass-tipped wooden fife.

Michalenko said two days later he was reading an article about Shades of Gray, a Civil War-era camp band and thought it would be a good idea to bring them to the GAR Hall where the fife will be on display.

"I said, wow, I have to get these guys to Adams," he said. "I always liked to listen to historical music, so I booked them."

Michalenko read from the article that more music came out of the Civil War than all the other wars combined and he is urging people to attend and take a step back in time.

"It is a great opportunity to see what it was like to be a soldier during the Civil War and the room is spectacular alone," he said. "People always forget about it and it's worth it for anyone who wants to step back in time."

The concert is at 2 p.m. Saturday and is free and open to the public. Michalenko said it will conclude in time for Mass at 4 p.m.

Tags: civil war,   concerts,   historical event,   

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Three Berkshires Women Named 'Unsung Heroines'

Liz Mitchell and state Rep. John Barrett III at Tuesday's 2019 Unsung Heroine ceremony at the State House. 

BOSTON — Three Berkshires women were named Unsung Heroines for 2019 during a State House ceremony on Tuesday.

State Sen. Adam G. Hinds nominated Donna Cesan for this recognition because of her dedication to community, having served as Community Development Director and interim Town Administrator for the town of Adams for 19 years.

Elizabeth "Liz" Mitchell, a North Adams resident and advocate for domestic violance victims with the Elizabeth Freeman Center, was nominated by state Rep. John Barrett III and Marie Richardson of Pittsfield, a caseworker in the Pittsfield Public Schools, was nominated by state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier.

"Donna has selflessly given countless hours of her time to ensure Adams is moving in the right direction," said Hinds. "She is well-respected in her hometown of Lanesborough, and the town of Adams is well-served by her. She is absolutely an Unsung Heroine for her dedication to our region and her professionalism, which is effortlessly showcased in all of her projects."

Massachusetts Commission of the Status of Women annually celebrates "unsung heroines" who don't always make the news, but who make a difference. They are the women who use their time, talent and enthusiasm to enrich the lives of others and make a difference in their neighborhoods, cities and towns. They are mentors, volunteers and innovators who do what needs to be done without expectations of recognition or gratitude. These women are the glue that keeps a community together and every community is better because of their contribution.   

Hinds said Cesan has dedicated her career to public service. As the director of community development, she has spearheaded economic development projects with big impact, like the construction of a platform for the Adams terminus of the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum's Hoosac Valley Service, the renovation of the Adams Visitor Center parking lot and implementing the community's vision for the Greylock Glen. Since 2014, she has been asked twice by the Board of Selectmen to also serve as interim town administrator, managing every aspect of municipal government for months, while also promoting community development initiatives in town.
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