Amanda Shurlds is a name almost lost in history. The woman died in 1932 at the age of 97 and is buried in Park Cemetery in Carthage. Who was Amanda Shurlds, and why does her name come up nearly 80 years after her death?
She was the second wife of John Cromwell Dent — the brother of Julia Dent Grant and brother-in-law of President Ulysses S. Grant. Julia Grant and Shurlds were friends. For some time after their marriage, the Dents lived in Carthage off Highland Avenue on property where the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix currently is located.
When John Dent died in 1889, Shurlds, a native of Jefferson City, left the area, but she returned here around the time of World War I. Interestingly, Shurlds is buried next to the grave of her friend Lucy Hood Cunningham. Cunningham is remembered for sewing a red, white and blue petticoat, which she ripped off and waved in support of Union troops as they marched around the courthouse lawn on July 4, 1861, the day before the first Battle of Carthage. She was 17 at the time.
This local connection to President Grant segues to the continuing “Lee & Grant” exhibit at the Powers Museum, produced by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and adapted and put on tour by the Mid-America Arts Alliance. Many more programs are scheduled before the exhibit closes on Oct. 20. The highlights include:
Thursday, Oct. 7: Museum director Michelle Hansford will present a program at 7 p.m. on Julia Dent Grant’s family in Carthage. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 10: Pittsburg State University professor Joe Daley will compare the military styles of Robert E. Lee and Grant in a program set for 2 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 13: From 1 to 3 p.m., the museum is offering a “Make and Take” session. For a suggested $3 donation, you can create a scrapbook page on your Civil War ancestor.
Saturday, Oct. 16: A 3 p.m. event will feature William Worley as Gen. Thomas Ewing Jr., who signed the infamous Order No. 11. Ewing was the enraged Union general who issued the order after William Quantrill led his Southern-sympathizing raiders in an attack on Lawrence, Kan., that killed around 150 inhabitants. Order No. 11 evicted residents of Vernon, Cass, Bates and Jackson counties who could not prove their loyalty to the Union cause. Very limited seating is available, so advance reservations are recommended. Donations are suggested.
Sunday, Oct. 17: The Burnt District Players will present a readers theater-style performance based on the stories of those displaced by Order No. 11. The program begins at 2 p.m., and again, reservations and donations are suggested.
More events and activities may be viewed at the museum’s website, www.powersmuseum.com. Several take place during Maple Leaf Festival week, providing excellent entertainment for family and friends visiting Carthage.
I was fortunate to attend two previous Lee and Grant events. Both were memorable, and I agree with Hansford, who said: “It’s an exciting time for Civil War history buffs.”