Civil War photo leads to book by Dunn Museum's curator

  • Diana Dretske holding her new book, "The Bonds of War: A Story of Immigrants and Esprit de Corps in Company C, 96th Illinois Volunteer Infantry."

    Diana Dretske holding her new book, "The Bonds of War: A Story of Immigrants and Esprit de Corps in Company C, 96th Illinois Volunteer Infantry." Courtesy of Diana Dretske

 
 
Updated 8/3/2021 1:13 PM

On July 15, the Newport Township Historical Society and the village of Wadsworth hosted a presentation and book signing given by Diana Dretske about her recently published book, "The Bonds of War: A Story of Immigrants and Esprit de Corps in Company C, 96th Illinois Volunteer Infantry."

Dretske is curator and Lake County historian for the Bess Bower Dunn Museum in Libertyville. She has been researching the history of Northeastern Illinois for the past 30 years.

 

"The Bonds of War" was six years in the making. It started when the cased photo tintype pictured on the cover of her book was being archived at the Dunn Museum.

According to their records, the Dunn Museum received the tintype picture from the grandson of Edward Murray, one of the five soldiers in the picture.

That sparked Dretske's quest to not only find out the names of the other four men, but to learn more about each of them. Through her research, the other men were identified. The names of the men on the book's cover are, from left, seated: William B. Lewin, Loughlin Madden Jr. and Edward Murray; standing: James B. Murrie and John Y. Taylor.

Three of the men pictured on the cover of her book are buried in Mount Rest Cemetery: William B. Lewin, Edward Murray and James B. Murrie, all immigrants and early settlers of Newport Township.

These men were farmers, laborers, friends and neighbors. They all enlisted in the 96th Illinois volunteer infantry. They were mustered in at Camp Fuller in Rockford on Sept. 5, 1862. It was shortly after they had been mustered in and exchanged their civilian clothes for soldier's uniforms that this picture was taken.

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The Ansel Brainerd Cook Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, has been fundraising since May 2020 to "Adopt Mount Rest," which is helping to restore the cemetery. The ABC members have cleaned more than 150 headstones.

The cemetery grounds are also being reclaimed and brought back to their original beauty with the help of the Mount Rest Cemetery Association board members.

This past May, Chris Hillman of Chris's Cemetery Preservation Inc., an Illinois certified preservationist, and her team repaired more than 56 stones.

A percentage of the fundraising has been donated to help support the Newport Township Historical Society and the museum. Diana Dretske also joined the fundraising by donating a portion of her book sales at the event.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

For information on how to obtain "The Bonds of War," visit www.siupress.com/books/978-0-8093-3821-4.

For information on the Ansel Brainerd Cook Chapter, NSDAR, visit ildar.org/chapters/anselbrainerdcook.

For information on the Newport Township Historical Society, visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Newport-Township-Historical-Society-182229458612872.

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