GALLIPOLIS — The Gallipolis Emancipation Celebration returns Sept. 21 and 22 with Frederick Douglass scholar and reenactor Michael Crutcher and duo John and Marian King portraying President Abraham Lincoln and First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln, respectively.
A retiree from the United States Army, and former assistant professor at University of Kentucky’s Lexington Community College, Crutcher began his acting career with Images Modeling and Acting Agency in Lexington, Ky. Since then, he has been in several television commercials and training videos. He was a stand-in actor in the movie “Seabiscuit” and can be seen in the movie “Dreamer,” with actors Dakota Fanning and Kurt Russell.
Crutcher’s current role was inspired after research revealed his great-great grandfather, Daniel Gilchrist, was a member of the 13th United States Colored Troops Heavy Artillery out of Camp Nelson, Ky.
He also discovered that Daniel’s father was from Virginia, where Douglass’ lineage was traced to before his family moved to Maryland where Daniel’s mother was from.
Crutcher is a devout scholar of Frederick Douglass and believes his calling is to share Douglass’ principle of freedom, equality, religion, and self-esteem.
For the past 25 years, John W. King has been telling the story of the 16th president during the American Civil War. John is a full-sized, first person portrayer of Lincoln at 6 feet, 4 inches. He gives a brief look at Lincoln’s life from the log cabin to the White House. His presentation can be from 15 minutes to an hour in length, followed by questions and answers.
As a retired teacher, John educates his audience in a most entertaining manner. He has brought Lincoln to life for school students, historical groups, civic groups, churches, clubs, a Law Day dinner, birthday party, Civil War rededications, festivals, and Memorial Day parades. Group size has ranged from as few as 10 people, to as many as 350 students.
At the Lake County Law Day Dinner, “President Lincoln” spoke for 15 minutes about his education and legal training, followed by questions and answers. He was asked if he thought a former slave could ever be elected president. His response was, “Probably not,but who would have thought someone born in a log cabin with less than a year of formal education could be President; so I guess anything is possible.”
As the dinner guest for an 80-year-old gentleman’s birthday party, “Mr. Lincoln” talked about the Civil War for about 45 minutes when the gentleman commented, “You’re my hero.”
Marian King will portray Mary Todd Lincoln during the 2019 Emancipation Celebration. Some say that maybe no First Lady is more misunderstood than Mary Todd Lincoln. Her life was tragic, some say, from beginning to end – filled with loss, public criticism, and hatred. Outspoken and emphatic in her views, Mary was politically active during a time when this was unacceptable behavior for a woman.
Mary Todd was born to a prominent family in Lexington, Ky., on December 13, 1818. When she was six, her mother died. Her father remarried a younger woman and Mary had a difficult relationship with her stepmother. From her father’s two marriages, she had a total of 14 siblings.
Highly educated, capricious, and politically savvy, she was never boring historians say. Mary was courted by several gentlemen, but wed Abraham (nine years older) on Nov. 4, 1842 at her sister Elizabeth’s house in Springfield, Ill. They had four sons, Robert Todd, Edward Baker, William Wallace (Willie), and Thomas (Tad) – three of which died before Mary.
Mary lost favor with the American public during her husband’s presidency because of her Southern roots and her over-spending on Executive Mansion redecorating. The pressures of Civil War, slanderous newspaper articles, and losing two children while in the White House strained her marriage and mental stability. After witnessing her husband’s assassination in 1865, Mary was understandably, some say, a broken woman.