Category Archives: Member profile

Nancy Bowker – Member Profile

A visit to the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia on Pine Street in the early 1990s and viewing the preserved bust of Old Baldy by a self-described horse and history nut influenced Nancy Bowker to join the OBCWRT to learn more about Old Baldy.

Growing up in Riverton, NJ, Nancy’s artist father took her and her brother and sister to many museums to do research for his paintings of soldiers of the American Revolution. Nancy’s mother was a librarian and it must have had an influence on her literary skills as Nancy is the author of two horse related books and is co-author of a third. She has also had articles published in several trade horse magazines. Nancy’s education includes Palmyra High School, college in Vermont and Burlington County, NJ, a year at The Sterling School in Craftbury Commons, Vermont and a year in Horsemanship School in Chester Springs, PA.

It was research for her second book about horse trainer John S. Rarey that peaked her interest in the Civil War. Rarey was a world famous “horse whisperer” and was an important figure in the rehabilitation of abused and vicious horses during the 1850s. Nancy’s research on Mr. Rarey showed he was present as an observer in Thaddeus Lowe’s balloon during the Battle of Fredericksburg in 1862, even drawing Confederate fire. In order to gain more information on Mr. Rarey Nancy did more research on the battle and as she puts it, “became hooked.”

Nancy lives on a New Jersey farm with her husband Russ, two rescue horses that are smart, funny and noble;m and old mellow Golden Retriever and two cats. Her daughter Jessica is a social worker who also has a horse and is an ardent animal lover. Her background besides writing about horses includes working in horse stables, working at racing stables, a horse and carriage wedding service and volunteering with a therapeutic riding program. She currently works as a book seller at Barnes & Noble.

Overall Nancy is very interested in the cavalry aspects of the war. She enjoys studying the use of horses and mules, she also has interest in the generals Meade, Grant, and Sheridan. She has worked on a children’s book on Meade’s Old Baldy and is working to get it published.

She has traveled to various Civil War sites. It is not surprising that Nancy has visited Brandy Station, along with The Wilderness, Fredricksburg, City Point, Richmond, and Gettysburg. Besides the actual battlefields, she has enjoyed visiting the GAR Museum, The Smith Memorial in Fairmount Park and the stature of General Meade and Old Baldy behind Centennial Hall.

She has read many books on the Civil War. Favorites include The Passing of the Armies by Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, the three book series on the Union Cavalry by Stephen Z. Starr, and books by Bruce Catton, Eric Wittenberg, Ed Longacre, and our own Dr. Andy Waskie. Her favorite Civil War movies are Gettysburg and The Colt. Other favorite movies are The Black Stallion, Field of Dreams, The Patriot, and Funny Farm.

Besides OBCWRT Nancy is a member of The General Meade Society and the Civil War Trust. She is a member of the following; The Author’s Guild, Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators, and the Hooved Animal Humane Society. Nancy loves music and enjoys attending concerts, the Philadelphia Art Museum, and the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York City. She enjoys going to plays and horse events with her daughter.

Profile text by Steve Peters

Herb Kaufman – Member Profile

Treasurer, Old Baldy CWRT

HerbKaufman558In 1989 Herb was employed in the Labor Relations Department of the School District of Philadelphia. He was asked to meet with Mr. John Craft, the Director of Adult Education to discuss a labor issue. As they spoke, Herb learned of John’s involvement in the MOLLUS War Library (Civil War Museum of Philadelphia) then at 1805 Pine Street. John suggested that he visit the museum and consider becoming a volunteer. Well, as they say, the rest is history.

Having been a life-long student of American history, Herb was immediately overwhelmed by the breath of the collection and the wonderful library. In 1989 he became a museum volunteer, and went to his first Old Baldy CWRT meeting. He continued to participate in Old Baldy meetings, trips and events, as well as volunteer at the museum. In 2002 he was hired as an Educational Assistant with responsibility for doing research and giving tours and programs to the thousands of students and others visiting the museum. Herb continued to serve in this capacity until the museum’s unfortunate closure in October 2008.

man at a podium

Herb Kaufman

In other related activities Herb is an Adjunct Instructor and founding member of the faculty of the Civil War Institute at Manor College. He is also currently a member of the Editorial Staff of the Civil War News, writing both news and feature articles; a member of the Board of Directors of the Grand Army of the Republic Civil War Museum and Library; and Treasurer of the Delaware Valley CWRT. He has been the Treasurer of the Old Baldy CWRT since 2007.

For 15 years he was a Civil War re-enactor with Company C, 28th Pennsylvania Regiment. After serving as both a private and corporal, Herb became a Surgeon specializing in the history and practice of Civil War medicine.

Over the years, Herb has been honored with numerous awards including the initial Merit Award given by the Delaware Valley CWRT, and the Samuel Towne Award from the G.A.R. Museum and Library.

At present he teaches at a number of local life-long learning institutes, and gives presentations and programs to civic, historical, and community groups throughout the area.

Don Wiles – Member Profile

Newsletter Editor, Old Baldy CWRT

Don Wiles shirtBorn in York, Pennsylvania (Captured by Confederates during the Gettysburg Campaign without firing a shot!). Grew up in York, which is about 25 miles from Gettysburg. Spent many family picnics there after WWll when gas became available again. We were able to spread out the food, sheets and blankets on any of the large flat boulders on the battlefield including “Devil’s Den”. Became fascinated with the monuments and had so many questions that my grandmother gave me my first Civil War book “Gettysburg, The Pictures and the Story” Pub. 1913 of which I still have.

My father had purchased the Dobbin House in Gettysburg in the early 1950s and set up a museum and a large diorama of the Gettysburg Battlefield. He had sold the Dobbin House in the latter 1960s

Don Wiles kidTried college after high school, but soon quit to follow a desire to draw and took a job with a local adverting agency. Followed an uncle to Florida (an area called Cape Canaveral) in the late 1950s, married a girl from York, had three children (two boys, 1 girl… now have five grandchildren – all girls) and settled in Florida. Became friends with a high school teacher (Quaker) who had written books on Civil War prisons and did private research for Richard Nixon on his grandfather’s Civil War experiences, death and grave location (Gettysburg) for the President. He started my interest in the CW again by supplying my kids with CW books as gifts for me. He also got me to be a chaperon on CW field trips he took his students on to Olustee and Atlantic forts along Florida and Georgia.

My main interest changed to Space after going to work at the Kennedy Space Center. Worked there until the middle 1980s doing illustrations for the Astronauts, NASA and several different private company projects. Had received several awards and had some of my artwork go to the moon and back. My three children finished college and were on their way with life and my wife had died from cancer, so I moved back North and worked for several advertising agencies and companies. Remarried and my new wife showed me an article in the Philly Inquirer about a not so well known gold mine of CW history on Pine Street in Philly. Went to my first meeting in the late 1980s and renewed my interest with the museum and the Round Table. Kind of became a part time member of the Round table for a few years due to doing lots of seminars and tours.

I started doing the “Old Baldy” newsletter in 2004. I hope I have made the newsletter into a vehicle of not just news and events but a way to share interesting and learning articles of the Civil War.

I started going to CW seminars and tours for most of the 1990s and 2000s. Have collected several hundreds of CW books (ORs, Confederate Veterans, etc.). My main interested has gone back to Gettysburg of which I have collected information and thousands of photos of the Gettysburg Campaign. Have been on many private tours with Historians, Authors, ALBGs and Rangers. Walked the battlefield in the hot sun, rain, ice and snow, covered with multitudes of ticks, scratches from “sticker bushes”, found locations of missing monuments/markers, earthworks, battery lunettes and have met and enjoyed the friendship of many nice Civil War “Nuts” over a 30 year span.

For the commissioning of the new Aegis Missile Cruiser Gettysburg at Philadelphia in 1991 I was given the opportunity to do an illustration of the ship to hang in the captain’s wardroom.

I also got interested in Family history due to a granddaughter asking where our family came from. We always thought we were from Wales but not true. Turns out all the family lines came from the German area of Europe. Along with that I started looking for CW soldiers… I found over 30 soldiers in the major family lines. Have only done some research on 7-8 of them. Found over 600 pages of information on three of them from the National Archives, which lead to finding the lost grave of one of them. Also learned of great stories on some of them; Sultana survivor, West Point judge, a fort builder, several wounded ones and some who ended up captured and put in Libby, Andersonville and Salisbury prisons and those who were killed.

They say getting old sucks… it may have curtailed my traveling a little but won’t stop my love of history, research, photography and drawing on the Civil War and family.

Also attending the Annual Gettysburg Hog Maw dinner.

Mike Cavanaugh – Member Profile

seated man reading

Mike Cavanaugh

Mike Cavanaugh is a founding member of the Old Baldy Civil War Round Table, serving over the years as treasurer, program chairman, and twice president. His interest in the Civil War began in the early 1970s, when he found he had several ancestors in the war. Mike’s great grandfather, on his father’s side, Pvt. Thomas Holleran, was a member of the 96th PVI (raised in Schuylkill County) and on his mother’s side, Cpl. James Lindsey of the 1st New York Mounted Rifles (raised in New York City). Mike has authored and coauthored five books on the war and also founded the Civil War Book Exchange (now Civil War News). For more than thirty-five years, he has had an avid interest in the Battle of the Crater fought on July 30, 1864, in Petersburg, VA. This led to a book in 1989—coauthored with Bill Marvel—entitled The Horrid Pit, The Battle of the Crater. Continue reading

Blake A. Magner – Member Profile

photo of deceased member

Blake A. Magner, RIP

The late Blake A. Magner was born and raised in the great commonwealth of Massachusetts. After a four year tour of duty in the U. S. Navy, which included time spent in the Brown Water Navy in South Vietnam, he moved to New Jersey after meeting his life mate at a USO dance in 1971. Blake and his wife have now been married for thirty-six years and are proud parents and grandparents. Blake has a Master’s Degree from Rutgers University in Biology and worked through the 1980s as a chemist. Continually hearing the call of History, Blake left his Science profession and became an independent historian in 1990. His area of interest includes just about everything from the War of Jenkins’s Ear through the late 18th century, the 19th century and ending with the death of Theodore Roosevelt. He also has a working knowledge of the Normandy landings and the Vietnam War. His studies include military history (specifically the Civil War and Revolutionary War), literature, personalities, the Founding Fathers and politics. Continue reading

Steven James Wright – Member Profile

guy in a baseball cap

Steven James Wright

A native of Silver Bay, Minnesota, Steven James Wright developed a fascination with history by listening to his grandfather’s stories of World War I and by exploring his father’s vast library of Civil War books as a child. This interest led to his majoring in history in college at St. John’s University (B.A., Collegeville, MN, 1978) and the University of Minnesota–Duluth (M.A., Duluth, MN, 1981. He also received an M.L.I.S., Drexel University, 2003.) He worked for more than twenty-five years in the history field at such places as Gettysburg National Military Park as a seasonal Park Ranger, a full-time Park Ranger at Independence National Historical Park, and the Curator of Collections at the late Civil War Library and Museum in Philadelphia. In addition, he has written two books and contributed to four others, and has had more than 300 articles and book reviews printed in such publications as The Surratt Courier, Blue and Gray, Civil War News, Gettysburg Magazine, Civil War Times, America’s Civil War, to name but a few. A member of a number of historical and preservation associations, he has served more than five terms as President of Old Baldy Civil War Round Table of Philadelphia. Continue reading

Henry Shaffner – Member Profile

seated man in a suit and tie

Henry Shaffner

You could assume that Henry Shaffner, being a great-great Grandson of Confederate General Thomas J. (“Stonewall”) Jackson might be a Civil War buff. You would be right. But, in Henry’s family, as he was recently quoted in USA Today‘s Civil War series, “Don’t rely on your ancestors” were the watchwords. Because of all the history in Henry’s family–generals in the Revolutionary War, as well as the Civil War, and Framers of the Constitution, too, he decided on a different field in which to operate. Continue reading

Craig Schoeller – Member Profile

man in a baseball cap

Craig Schoeller

Craig Schoeller became interested in the Civil War at the time of the Centennial (1961-1965) when he read all of Bruce Catton’s books. In following years he visited most of the battlefields from Gettysburg, Antietam, Chickamauga, and to Atlanta. Later he set foot at Shiloh, Vicksburg, and Post Hudson. With the passage of time he became less interested in battle details and more attracted to human interest and people’s actions and interactions. Continue reading

Hal Jespersen – Member Profile

two men talking on a battlefield

Hal Jespersen conversing with Ed Bearss

Hal Jespersen is a retired computer industry executive who has a strong interest in studying the Civil War. Hal was a U.S. Army Signal Corps officer in the 1970s and then held a variety of computer software jobs in Silicon Valley until his retirement in 2010. Although he studied some military history and visited some battlefields as an ROTC cadet, Hal’s overriding interest in the war was triggered recently by a specific event— reading Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels in 2003. That led to a period of voracious reading about the Battle of Gettysburg and to the first of a number of trips to that hallowed ground. Continue reading