Our Town Seward: Chautauqua

SEWARD, Neb. -- Each year here in the Cornhusker state, Humanities Nebraska presents a history filled, week-long event in two different towns and Seward kicked off the season with a Chautauqua that centered around World War I history.

Audience members at the Nebraska National Guard Museum got a thrill to see a living historian portray legendary World War I general, John Pershing.

"I am Pershing, John Joseph is the name that my parents gave me, the Iron General is the name newspaper men have given me...and Black Jack is the name that West Point Cadets gave me... It was our task to chase the Apache, the Comanche and try and subdue them," said the man portraying Pershing.

“Chautauqua, usually we center it around a historic theme,” said Kristi Hayek Carley.

Carley is the program manager for Humanities Nebraska and she says this year’s theme is World War I because 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of America’s first involvement in the war.

"We're supposing that people don't know as much about World War I as perhaps some other conflicts that our American soldiers have been involved in and so we wanted to take it upon ourselves to look at the different impacts of World War I, those lasting impacts that affected the 20th century and even today," said Carley.

“I am portraying a basic private,” said David Gordy from Ottumwa, Iowa. “Now while cavalry primarily used their horses for transportation to and from battle and then fought on foot during World War I some fighting was actually done on horseback still.”

Erik Mutthersbough from Lincoln enjoyed getting the opportunity to share his knowledge of World War I history with Chautauqua visitors.

"When World War I broke out a lot of the countries primary means of transportation was still horses."

Mutthersbough’s love of horses was quite evident.

"My purpose here is actually to tell the story of the horse and promote the humane use of horses in the military which they still use them for parades and some combat roles and to make sure the horse has an advocate out there because they are a noble creature worth of our respect and love."