Mary Rollins, 62, and her 83-year-old mother, Trudy Wilson, fell in love with Civil War history about 38 years ago. Rollins left Wyoming in 1980 and resettled in Platte City, where she met a historian and developed an interest in the Civil War.
“I started reading about Missouri history,” Rollins said. “I found it really interesting.”
About seven years ago, Rollins and Wilson traveled to the Lincoln Memorial and Museum in Springfield, Ill. That experience led Rollins to take part in Civil War re-enactments in Marshall, Centralia and Glasgow. Rollins also traveled this past summer to Pennsylvania for the Battle of Gettysburg re-enactment.
Wilson lives with Rollins during the winter and returns home to Cody, Wyo., in the summer. Wilson has attended re-enactments in Gettysburg, Pa., Glasgow, Hermann and Marshall.
“I love it, and I’m enjoying it probably as much as she is. It’s been wonderful,” she said. “I just enjoy going and meeting new people. Everyone has a different story to listen to. Some of them have families that were in the Civil War.”
Rollins researched Civil War-era costumes and began collecting attire from the period. She researched wardrobes of the 1860s and collected day red carpet dresses, camp dresses, mourning dresses and ballgowns.
“I was really interested in the mourning process,” she said.
Last winter, she and Wilson had paid $1,000 each to have Kay Hawk in Lee’s Summit make them silk ballgowns that are replicas of an original 1860s dress pattern. The pair decided to wear their new gowns for a photo shoot in front of the Guitar Mansion, 2815 Oakland Gravel Road, for their holiday cards.
Rollins admits she and Wilson are not registered Civil War re-enactors but said they still enjoy the persona of the characters.
“When they put these outfits on, they play the role,” Rollins said. “The Southern gentlemen ... are very much Southern gentlemen. They will take your hand, and they will kiss the top of your hand.”
Rollins says other re-enactors know the part they play in history.
“When I wear my mourning dress, I’ve had gentlemen put their hand on my shoulder and say, ‘I’m sorry for your loss,’ ” Rollins said.
Rollins has made several friends through re-enactments. She even met actor Patrick Falci, who worked in film, television and documentaries about the Civil War.
Rollins and Wilson have several other re-enactments on their bucket lists. They would like to travel to Georgia, West Virginia, the battle of Bull Run and Appomattox, Va.
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