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'Once Upon a Prairie' storytelling event at Old State Capitol to feature Civil War stories

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[August 15, 2013]  SPRINGFIELD -- Abraham Lincoln once filled the Illinois Statehouse with jokes and stories. Modern visitors will get a taste of that experience Aug. 17 when the Old State Capitol hosts its "Once Upon a Prairie" storytelling program.

The free event runs from 6 to 7:30 on Saturday evening. It is sponsored by the Staab Funeral Home.

Brian "Fox" Ellis, an acclaimed author, storyteller and historian, will share Civil War stories in Representative Hall, where Abraham Lincoln worked as a legislator in 1840 and delivered his "House Divided" address in 1858. Join Ellis as he takes listeners back in time to the battlefields and hospitals of America's Civil War. He will recite poems by Walt Whitman and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, interspersing his rich knowledge of the war with folk songs by Stephen Foster and stories by Civil War soldier and reporter Ambrose Bierce.

Ellis has been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences and is also the artistic director for Prairie Folklore Theatre, a unique theater company that celebrates ecology and history through original musical productions. He is the author of 15 books, including "Learning from the Land: Teaching Ecology Through Stories and Activities" and the award-winning children's picture book "The Web at Dragonfly Pond." Many of his stories are also available on CD.

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During the 1840s and 1850s, the Old State Capitol was the scene of debate over issues that led the nation to war in 1861. During the Civil War, as the seat of government, the Statehouse was the center of the state's efforts at wartime mobilization. The building also provided space for local events aiding the needs of local residents as well as soldier relief efforts.

The Old State Capitol State Historic Site, administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, is open daily through Labor Day weekend from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The site will be open until 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 17 for this special program.

[Text from file received from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency]

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