By Sue Moore
The village of Vicksburg began with a grist mill and whiskey still. Now developers are planning an entertainment venue and the Village Council is making major improvements to infrastructure in 2020. In between is a story of shifted buildings, self-supported hospitals, fires, trains, lotus lilies, ice harvesting, pickles and a little scandal.
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Western Michigan University is again coming to Vicksburg with a deep immersion into the village’s interesting story. The class is titled “Vicksburg Then and Now – From Whiskey to Lilies to Beer.” Kristina Powers Aubry will be teaching the three-session class beginning September 10, with subsequent classes on September 17 and 24, from 1-3:30 p.m. at various sites. Even long-time Vicksburg area residents will find new and interesting stories from the treasure trove that Powers Aubry has been digging into.
Each class will begin with informative stories followed by a walking tour. The first class will look at early years of the Village with a tour of the Vicksburg Historic Village. The second will look at middle years, with a tour of the central business district and important residences. The last class will look at years leading to the present with a tour of The Mill at Vicksburg as it is under development. Enrollees are cautioned to wear comfortable walking attire appropriate for the weather.
“So many history classes are a litany of dates and events, without considering the personality or character of the people and locations,” said Powers Aubry. “Things are so much easier to remember and appreciate when they are presented as stories with humor and personality. That’s what this class is planned to do. – make the Vicksburg history we are familiar with come alive with stories rather than data.” She has been delving into the nooks and crannies of the Historical Society to plan the class presentations. She has served as president of the Historical Society and the Historic Village Committee.
Powers Aubry worked as an educational media specialist at Kalamazoo Valley Intermediate District. A 30-year member of the Vicksburg Historical Society and several other historical associations, she has spent years studying and researching many historical periods, specializing in eighteenth-century American history. She has given many presentations on varying topics across the state. She and her husband, David, taught a Revolutionary War class for OLLI in 2016 at the Vicksburg District Library.
The class numbers were capped at 30 with 19 already signed up. To register for the class, contact the OLLI Institute at 269-387-4200. Cost is $38 for members; $76 for non-members.