BLOOMINGTON - The McLean County Museum of History is currently taking reservations for a special bus trip to see “The Civility of Albert Cashier”, a limited-run musical that focuses on the life of a Central Illinois Civil War soldier who defied contemporary gender roles. A matinee performance, the show will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday, September 17 at Stage 773 in Chicago. A limited number of scholarships for local high school students will be available thanks to the Prairie Pride Coalition.
Born Jennie Irene Hodgers, Albert D.J. Cashier (December 25, 1843 – October 10, 1915) was an Irish-born immigrant who moved to Illinois and lived under a male identity before enlisting in the 95th Illinois Infantry during the American Civil War. Cashier maintained his secret throughout the war and for most of his adult life until a doctor discovered Cashier’s biological gender following an injury. Cashier’s story became famous as one of a number of women soldiers who served as men during the Civil War, however Cashier did not dress in men’s clothing just to join the Army. His male identity was part of his life before and after the war, leading current scholars to reconsider the female narrative that has long framed his legacy. Despite a challenge to his Army pension and being forced to spend his final days dressed as a woman in a state asylum, Cashier was buried with full military honors in his Union uniform and a tombstone reflects his name as “Albert D.J. Cashier, Co G, 95 Ill.” Today, there is also a nearby second tombstone bearing his female birth name. Cashier’s small house is still located in the town of Saunemin in Livingstone County, and the Cashier story continues to capture the interests of historians, journalists, authors, and playwrights.
Reserve your spot for $65 – price includes round-trip bus transportation and show ticket. Bus leaves the Museum and Visitors Center on Sunday at 12 p.m. Call the Museum at (309) 827-0428 to make your reservation. During the ride to Chicago, Museum Librarian Bill Kemp will present his program, “From Jenny to Albert: Pvt. Cashier and the Civil War.”
“Of all the innumerable Civil War stories of life under arms (from boredom to bravery and humor to horror), one would be hard pressed to come up with a more intriguing yet ultimately more touching story than that of Albert D.J. Cashier of the 95th Illinois Infantry,” said Kemp.
Dave Bentlin of the Prairie Pride Coalition will offer commentary after the show and lead a discussion about current themes and issues reflected in the Cashier story. The PPC will also offer scholarship opportunities for local students to participate.
“In an effort to engage today’s LGBTQIA+ youth to learn more about their heritage, the Prairie Pride Coalition will offer a limited number of scholarships to members of the gay/straight alliances at local high schools to cover ticket and transportation costs,” Bentlin explained. For more information about the scholarships, please contact Dave Bentlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can go to the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AlbertCashierTheMusuical to learn more about the musical.
The Museum would like to thank all of our sponsors and partners who are helping to reduce financial barriers to learning history and experiencing cultural opportunities:
- Prairie Pride Coalition
- Ogar & Miller, Bloomington Illinois Family Law Attorneys
- Mid-Illini Credit Union
- Jan Lancaster/The Bistro
- Specs Around Town Optical Boutique