Herschel and Jacque Stroud were destined to have an interest in mid-19th century history. They met on a blind date, on December 5, 1949, at the Eldridge Hotel in Lawrence KS, a place many feel is the most historic corner in all of Kansas (it keeps burning down). During the first three years of their marriage, Herschel and Jacque lived within walking distance of the Chicago Historical Society, which was full of Lincoln and Civil War relics.
Herschel was a doctor of optometry in the United States Air Force before he was a doctor of dental surgery. The eye clinic of Chicago College of Optometry was in the large carriage house of Robert Lincoln's home. The adjacent student dormitory was Robert Lincoln's mansion, all near Lincoln Park, Chicago.
The Stroud's interest in President Lincoln began when they had to memorize the Gettysburg Address in grade school in Peabody KS and Carthage MO. Fortunately, there were only 272 words to recite.
For the past thirty years, the Strouds have actively studied, experienced, and talked about life during the Civil War. They have lectured on Civil War medicine from coast to coast, touring five years on the associated clubs circuit, and appearing at museums, round tables, medical meetings, schools, and civic organizations. They have slept on the ground in cornfields, eaten hardtack with weevils, shared chiggers and ticks, and shed blood on some of the most famous Civil War battlefields in the nation.
Herschel and Jacque have presented papers on Civil War medicine nationally, including the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College PA; the Society of Civil War Surgeons annual meetings in St. Louis, Chattanooga, and other cities; plus the National Museum of Civil War Medicine conferences in Frederick and Baltimore MD.
In 2004, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius appointed Herschel as Kansas' liaison to the National Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission (ALBC). Since then, the Strouds have attended ALBC national meetings at the Library of Congress in Washington DC, and Louisville KY, as well as other cities. They have visited every city and place where Abraham Lincoln once lived and all but one of the places where Mary Todd Lincoln lived.
The Strouds have multiple personalities, mostly of dead people. In their presentations, each of them has a number of other wives and husbands. However, they all have the same faces. For this month's program, the Strouds are simply Jacque and Herschel.
Herschel and Jacque have been Civil War re-enactors and members of the Civil War Round Table of Kansas City since the early 1990s. It is a bi-sectional (or mixed) marriage. Herschel's great-grandfather in the Vandalia IL area made cabinetry for Lincoln when he was practicing law. His great-uncle rode with Grierson's Cavalry. Herschel's grandmother and her husband came to Kansas in the early 1880s in a covered wagon. They were true blue all the way.
Jacque, on the other hand, came from Confederate roots in Carthage MO. She was born in Kendrick House, the only home left standing at the end of the war. It is now a living history museum. Jacque's father had a gray Civil War uniform hanging in the closet. Yet, her parents admired and respected Abraham Lincoln, right alongside Robert E. Lee.
Jacque and Herschel Stroud in period dress at the Kansas State House.