Meet Honest Abe during Civil War Weekend - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Meet Honest Abe during Civil War Weekend

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WSIL -- Illinois native George Buss has been reenacting President Lincoln for more than 30 years. He travels across the country portraying the iconic figure and now he's in Anna for Civil War Weekend. 

George grew up with Lincoln's influence around him, his elementary school was located next to the second Lincoln-Douglas debate site. "For two years, I ate lunch on the right shoe of Abraham Lincoln's (statue) not giving much thought as to what happened," he recalls. 

He didn't become interested in the 16th president until college when a professor called on him about the debates, but his first reenactment of Honest Abe came in 1986 for some good friends. 

"They said 'you know, you kinda look like Lincoln. Do you think that would work'," George explains. "I helped them and they were real tickled with that." 

It wasn't until C-SPAN filmed the entirety of the Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1994 that things took off. "I’ve been traveling ever since across the United States... from local historical societies, to the national archives, to the cemetery at Gettysburg," George says. 

He's been delivering the Gettysburg Address in Pennsylvania for the past five years and says it's his most notable performance, "It’s the soil at Gettysburg where those honored dead are buried that has an impact." 

Mona, Buss' wife, recently started to reenact Lincoln's wife. Her interest peaked after retiring with more free time to get to learn about Mary Todd Lincoln. 

She wants people to get to know the real former first lady, "I think she was misunderstood because of her education. I think she was misunderstood because she came from Illinois, which was considered the west." 

The couple will be traveling to many events together, and it's safe to say they'll be back to Southern Illinois. 

"Ann, Jonesboro these people are my friends. I understand in that walk that Lincoln walked what his friendships meant," George says. 

For those interested in Civil War Weekend, events will take place on February 9 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Anna Arts Center. 

Full list of events:

- 9AM: Civil War Heroes by Mike Estel, Author of 11 books and Historian

- 10:00 AM: MR. U. S. GRANT: A Man & A Patriot! by Dan Haughey East Moline, Illinois. Dan is an Illinois Humanities Road Scholar and will perform a first person, one-act play focusing on Grant’s early years and rise to Civil War fame as General of Union Armies in the Western in Theatre.

- 12:00 PM Lunch – BBQ Sandwich, Chips and Soda $5

- 1:00 PM: President Abraham Lincoln portrayed by George Buss. “No one brings Abraham Lincoln to life more brilliantly. George Buss is a national treasure.” – Harold Holzer, Lincoln scholar and chairman, Lincoln Bicentennial Commission

- 2:00 PM: Harriet Tubman by Marlene Rovero, an Illinois Humanities Road Scholar, who will perform a first person letting Harriet tell her story.

- 3:00 PM: ON THE ALTAR OF THEIR COUNTRY: The Children and Grandchildren of Conrad Sitter In The War of the Rebellion by Glen S. Bishop Jr., Civil War historian and lecturer. 

- 4:00 PM: 2 videos loaned by the General John A. Logan Museum, Director Michael Jones: “ Caught In The Sweep Of History 1861-1865, Egypt in the Civil War (24:30)” and “Caught In The Sweep Of History 1861-1865, Egypt in the Civil War The Second Year (27:07)”

There will also be a few events on February 10. For more information call (904) 625-1109. 

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