Bringing the Civil War back to life

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.

In honor of the event, a long-time teacher and author is making her way across Illinois with a message in hopes of inspiring both kids and adults to take an interest in history.

"I just love going school to school and bringing history to life," said Betty Kay.

Betty Kay visited sixth graders at Winchester Elementary.

"This year in honor of the 150th Anniversary of the start of the Civil War, I am presenting as three women who led very unusual lives.

The first character Kay portrays is Jennie Hodges who passed as a man back in the 1800's.

"She fought three years in the Civil War and never got caught. She decided she liked being a man so much, she stayed a man the rest of her life," said Kay.

Hodges eventually landed herself in the Quincy Veterans Home with a broken leg.

"Which kind of caused her to give up her secret," said Kay.

It's a life story many of these students enjoy listening to.

Aside from Hodges story, Kay also portrays two other women, Mrs. Mary Ann Bickerdyke from Glaesburg and Mrs.Ulysses S. Grant.

"After each presentation, I ask them which person they really enjoyed learning about the most. And it's always J. Hodges who passes as a man. They have lots of questions about how that's possible," said Kay.

Kay says anything to get these kids interested in history again is a plus.

"I'm hoping children and adults will be inspired to read and further their education," say Kay.

During her trip across the state, Betty Kay is also promoting a book she wrote titled, "The Civil War from A to Z."

It captures the emotions from both the North and the South during the years they were at war.