Remembering the Civil War
Civil War Memorials
In 1968, Walter E. Norris took his grandson Bruce B. Butgereit to visit the Battlefield of Antietam, just outside of Hagerstown, MD where the boy lived. Shortly after this trip, Bruce read his first book, Rifles for Watie, a historical fiction book of the Civil War. In 1975, Bruce gave his first “presentation” on the Civil War (a slide show of battlefield scenes and two original 1863 newspapers) to his high school history class.
Around 1996, Bruce learned from his aging grandfather that he had two Civil War ancestors who fought in Indiana regiments, Lt. Col. Wesley W. Norris (43rd Indiana Infantry) and Cpl. Gashem Norris (6th Indiana and later the 15th Kentucky Infantry U.S.). Paying tribute to those men played a part in the decision to become a member of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States.
Bruce has continued to hone his presentation skills to that of a professional living history historian and 2015 marks his 40th year of offering programs and presentations to schools, museums, libraries and other organizations. His signature program Bedrolls & Bonnets is a look at life during the Civil War for men, women and children. Other programs include Keeping Green the Memory – Legions, Armies and Allied Orders, Michigan in the Civil War; Together…we CAN do it! (a service learning project for schools), Dr. Jacob Da Costa and Post Traumatic Stress in the Civil War, The Lincoln Highway – First National Memorial to Abraham Lincoln, and In Their Words: The Story of Annie Etheridge, Civil War Nurse from Michigan.
Since it is important to share a true look at history, years of research has gone into many subjects.
Not content with just educating others about the Civil War, in 2000, Bruce led the effort to restore the Kent County Civil War monument and fountain in Grand Rapids. With the support of his wife Marcia and others, the $300,000 fundraising campaign successfully resulted in the restoration and rededication of the monument in 2003. Since 2000, Bruce has been involved with restoration and rededication of thirteen other Kent County Civil War memorials.
Bruce has also provided consultation to or led the effort to restore and/or preserve memorial statues in Jonesville, Grant, Jackson, Detroit, Tipton, and Traverse City. On May 30, 2004, 100-years to the day of the original dedication; Bruce conducted the rededication service for the restored Michigan Monument at Andersonville Prison National Park in Georgia. As a tribute to the over 600 men from Michigan who died at the prison and never returned to their home in Michigan, Bruce had each of the 27 Camps in the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Department of Michigan provide a small handful of soil from their locality so that it could be sprinkled around the memorial to bring a little piece of home to the final resting place of those Michigan men. In 2005, Bruce coordinated and conducted the rededication of the Michigan Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Detroit with several hundred reenactors and over 500 spectators in attendance. Through dedicated research, each of these ceremonies was a mirror of the original event with participants from the same church, organization or locale.
Bruce was the recipient of the 2003 Cornelius F. Whitehouse Outstanding Brother Award from the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War; the highest award given by the SUVCW. In 2004, Bruce and Marcia became the first co-recipients of the Albert Baxter Award from the Grand Rapids Historical Society. Bruce and Marcia have been recipients of several awards from the Historical Society of Michigan and the Grand Rapids Historical Preservation Commission.
After serving as Commander of the Michigan Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS) for eleven years, Bruce stepped down in 2015 to allow others the opportunity to serve. He is a Past Department (Michigan) Commander of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and a member of the Gen. John A. Logan Camp No. 1 of Grand Rapids. He currently is the SUVCW Department Civil War Memorials Officer in Michigan. Bruce also served two years as the National Patriotic Instructor of the Sons of Union Veterans and then as the National Memorials Officer for two years. In both positions, Bruce created detailed Handbooks of Instruction to help fellow officers perform the duties of the office.
In 2009, Bruce formed a not-for-profit corporation called History Remembered, Inc., as he broadened the scope of his historical interests beyond the Civil War. Because Bruce believes history is about people, History Remembered strives to be, “…the voices of those no longer with us…” History Remembered served as a Civil War History Partner of the Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee of the Michigan Historical Commission from 2010-2015.
Committed to giving back to his community, and to support the efforts of others, Bruce is currently an active member in the City of Grand Rapids stakeholders group overseeing Monument and Veterans Memorial Park.
Although Bruce would be comfortable anytime wearing a wool Civil War uniform, there are times when a more appropriate business attire is needed. Bruce recently retired from operating a business he began nearly forty years ago as a junior in high school. During an eight year period, Bruce worked at Kinko’s FedEx Kinko’s and FedEx Office as a Project Manager, Assistant Manager and Center Manager. During that time, Bruce also coordinated the award-winning participation in the March of Dimes program of all FedEx operations in Michigan and Northern Indiana.
Marcia Butgereit serves as the organization’s Vice Chairman and Treasurer. Her training includes a Bachelor’s degree in business management and accounting from Davenport University and her Master of Business Administration from Grand Valley State University with minors in marketing and accounting. She has over 35 years of life experience in the business world. In addition, she taught numerous classes designed specifically for women entrepreneurs looking to begin their own businesses.
However, her lifelong passion for history was sparked as a youngster after visiting Mackinac Island where she witnessed living historians providing educational programs on colonial life. From then on she devoured books on early American history and eventually became involved in Civil War reenacting. This led to a very rewarding journey through life with her husband Bruce where they have combined their talents and abilities to share with others and make “history come to life”.
As a member of the Woman’s Relief Corps, Auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic, Marcia is the only woman since the organization’s founding in 1883 to have served three consecutive terms as National President. With a deep commitment to the W.R.C., Marcia serves as National Secretary and as a member of the Board of Directors for the G.A.R. Memorial Museum in Springfield, IL.
Wenda Fore graduated from Reformed Bible College/Kuyper College.
She has served as Teaching Ministry Consultant for the Reformed Church in America; Director of Education and Youth at Faith Reformed Church; and is a longtime volunteer with West Michigan Council of Camp Fire including service on the Board of Directors.
Wenda is currently serving as Chartered Organization Representative for Boy Scout Troop 338 and Cub Scout Pack 3338 at Faith Reformed Church in Wyoming, MI. She is also member of the Eva Gray Tent No. 2, Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, 1861-1865 and has served as Tent President in addition to other positions. She is an officer of DUVCW, Department of Michigan.
She is a member and officer of Champlin Corps No. 41 of the Woman’s Relief Corps and member of West Michigan Genealogical Society. Wenda enjoys family and Civil War research, and taking part in events which honor those who served in the Civil War. She is proud to be the great-granddaughter of two veterans of the Civil War.
Bill retired from the United States Air Force as a Major after serving twenty-six and a half years. He also served as a communications officer during that time.
He has an Associate degree from Ferris College and a Bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University. Bill served as Treasurer of the United Food Local and retired from many years at Wolverine Worldwide.
He loves singing and has been a member of the Schubert Male Chorus of Grand Rapids for twenty-nine years. He is President of the Conservation Club in Howard City, MI and for many years has served as Commander of the Gen. John A. Logan Camp No. 1, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War in Grand Rapids.
Since 1974, Chet Trybus has taught marketing/sales courses at five colleges/universities in Michigan. During this time, he worked for twelve major corporations. He serves on the Boards of EaRN (Earning and Resource Network), a non-profit that seeks to train and educate those who cannot find a job. In addition, he is a singing member and serves on the Board of the Schubert Male Chorus of Grand Rapids. His “first love” is a Board Member of History Remembered, where Civil War History is honored, respected, and cherished.
Jeannine Trybus is a volunteer director. She serves as a volunteer at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and presents educational programs to area schools with History Remembered. She is the Past President of the Grand Rapids-based Champlin Corps No. 41 of the Woman’s Relief Corps, Auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic. This Corps has been active since 1887.
Like other members of History Remembered, Jeannine developed an interest in history at an early age after visiting Washington, DC and Colonial Williamsburg. Her interest in the Civil War led her to take annual trips to Gettysburg and is one of the most knowledgeable people about the battlefield and surrounding sites.