Grant to Support Civil War Exhibition at Mars Hill University

A grant from the Madison County Tourism Development Authority will support an upcoming exhibition at Mars Hill University’s Rural Heritage Museum. The museum will display “The Civil War in the Southern Highlands: A Human Perspective” from August 19, 2017, through March 4, 2018. Museum director Les Reker says the $15,000 grant will help the museum offer an important cultural experience to visitors and residents of the county: “We are extremely grateful for the vision and generosity of the Madison County Tourism and Development Authority, as well as to the hotels, motels, and B&Bs, for their continued support of our mission.”

The exhibit uses original letters and newly discovered documents to detail the personal struggles of the people living in Madison County and the surrounding Southern Appalachian region during the mid-19th century. Exhibition items include an introductory overview film, two dozen narrative panels, dozens of original photographs, and many authentic objects from the Civil War period.

Among those objects are:
– a wedding dress
– a military jacket
– Confederate currency
– flags
– swords
– ammunition
– a McClellan cavalry saddle

“The Civil War in the Southern Highlands: A Human Perspective” is curated by Max Hunt, staff writer for the Mountain Xpress newspaper; with assistance from author/historians Katherine Cutshall, Maynard Shelton, and Dan Slagle; with editing, research, and design by writer/researcher Carolyn Comeau and graphic designer/filmmaker Ryan Phillips. “Through careful study and scholarly research, we hope to shed light on the complex, apocryphal nature of the conflict that devastated the Southern Highlands, one which still profoundly reverberates deep in the hollows and gaps of the Blue Ridge,” said Reker.

The mission of the Rural Heritage Museum is to facilitate the collection, preservation, exhibition, and interpretation of objects relevant to the history and culture of the Southern Appalachian region. Through its program of changing exhibitions, the Museum assists students, faculty members, and the general public in understanding their rural heritage.

The museum is open daily (except Mondays) from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., and by appointment. It is located in Montague Hall on the Mars Hill University campus. Admission is free.

For more information or to reserve a group tour, please call (828) 689-1400 or visit the museum’s website at