The Oglesby Mansion's Children's Play
The Oglesby Mansion Board of Directors began producing a play about Richard Oglesby in the 1980's. The play, written by Jeanne Wilson, is centered on Ulysses S Grant's visit to Decatur in 1880. That year he had returned home from a two year world trip, ran for a third term for president at the Republican National Convention and was in town to attend a Grand Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic.
The play is presented for area fifth graders who traditionally study American history in social studies. At the bottom of the mansion's webpage (oglesbymansion.org) can be found a 33 page study guide which teachers can use to prepare students for their visit.
The characters portrayed in the twenty minute play are the Governor, his second wife Emma, President Grant, and two servant girls. Students learn about these historical people and the national events that shaped their lives. After the presentation the children are guided through the parlor, dining room, master bedroom, and children's room where they are introduced to the characters and can ask them questions.
Some of the questions asked of the characters include "President Grant, what pets do you have?" "Governor Oglesby, what did you do with the gold you found?" and "Mrs, Oglesby, who are some famous people whom you have met?" The servants are asked about their duties and personal lives.
Several thousand children have visited the mansion in order to travel back in time. They are enriching their education about people, history, and the arts.