SALEM — The 150th anniversary of the Civil War has spurred interest in learning more about the bloody, four-year conflict that divided a nation.
But for William Bailey, the interest has always been there — but it wasn’t until recently that he decided to learn more about “The War Between the States.”
He even joined the Civil War Book Group at Kelley Library.
That’s because the 72-year-old year Salem man has a personal interest in the war. Five of his ancestors were Civil War veterans and are buried beneath aging headstones at Cemetery on the Hill in Windham.
Four of the five were brothers; the other was their sister’s husband.
Bailey and his sister, Peg Snodgrass, 79, of Salem have decided to help others learn more about the war by donating to the library an old Eagle-Tribune article about Salem’s Civil War veterans.
Yesterday, they gathered at the library with club members and library director Alison Baker for a special presentation. The framed article and photo will hang on a wall of the library — near its historic Civil War collection of books and memorabilia.
“We try to preserve as much Salem history as we can,” Baker said.
The article does not include a date, but is believed to be from the 1960s. The photo that ran with the article was taken in the early 1900s. Snodgrass inherited the newspaper clipping from her great-aunt, Mary Bailey, and eventually gave it to her brother.
After the presentation, the group braved pouring rain to visit the soldiers’ graves. Bailey, dressed in a replica blue Union coat and hat, showed his ancestors’ headstones — proud of their sacrifice and hoping what they fought for will not be forgotten.
“It’s a big part of history and, unfortunately, it’s getting left behind,” he said.