Story of our own Jen­nie Hodgers is new mu­si­cal hit in Chicago

CLOGHER­HEAD WOMAN SERVED AS MAN IN UNION ARMY DUR­ING CIVIL WAR. HU­BERT MUR­PHY RE­PORTS

Drogheda Independent - - NEWS SPECIAL -

THE fol­low­ing story ap­peared in the Drogheda In­de­pen­dent in May 1913. ‘ The strange ca­reer of a woman who for over fifty years mas­quer­aded as a man was dis­closed on Mon­day at a sol­diers’ home at Quincy, Il­lo­nis. The ‘man-woman’ has been an in­mate of the home for more than two years, be­ing en­rolled on the books as Al­bert Cashier. She was a vet­eran sol­dier of the Civil War, and might have pre­served her se­cret un­til death but for ill health and the re­sul­tant ne­glect of her phys­i­cal well-be­ing, caused the au­thor­i­ties to or­der two at­ten­dants to give her a com­pul­sory bath.

‘Un­able to es­cape the or­deal, the vet­eran ap­pealed to a fe­male nurse, to whom she con­fessed her iden­tity. Ac­cord­ing to her story, she was a na­tive of Ire­land, and came to this coun­try as a stow­away in the guise of a boy.

‘When the war broke out she en­listed in Com­pany G, 95th Il­lonois In­fantry, and en­dured three years in the field.

‘At the close of the war there were only thirty sur­vivors of the com­pany, sev­eral of these were in­mates of the home she had spent the last two years in. They never sus­pected Cashier of be­ing a woman, and said that she was a fear­less and ef­fi­cient sol­dier.

‘Af­ter peace was es­tab­lished she was em­ployed for years as a farm hand, and later, chauf­feur, in which she was a fa­mil­iar fig­ure in garages in parts of Illi­nois. The au­thor­i­ties are much puz­zled what to do with the war-scarred woman.’

The woman at the cen­tre of the amaz­ing story was Jen­nie Irene Hodgers from Clogher­head.

Within two years of the story break­ing, Jen­nie was dead, pass­ing away on Oc­to­ber 11, 1915.

She was buried in her In­fantry uni­form with full mil­i­tary hon­ours in Sunny Slope Ceme­tery in Saune­min.

40 years ago, the peo­ple of Saune­min re­placed the stan­dard mil­i­tary marker on Jen­nie’s grave with a much big­ger one bear­ing the fol­low­ing in­scrip­tion: Al­bert D. J. Cashier, Co. G, 95th Inf. Civil War. Born: Jen­nie Hodgers in Clogher­head. 1843-1915.

Fit­tingly, over 100 years af­ter her death, Jen­nie’s story has hit the big screen with var­i­ous doc­u­men­taries done on her and the lat­est cel­e­bra­tion - a Chicago mu­si­cal.

Per­moveo Pro­duc­tions, in as­so­ci­a­tion with Pride Films & Plays, re­cently staged the world pre­miere pro­duc­tion of The Ci­vil­iTy of Al­bert Cashier, star­ring for­mer Glee Project star and Amer­ica’s Got Tal­ent con­tes­tant Dani Shay.

The pro­duc­tion is co-com­posed and directed by Keaton Wooden, co-com­posed by Joe Stevens, writ­ten by Jay Paul Der­atany and is mu­sic directed by Jon Sch­nei­d­man.

It sparked great de­bate as it fo­cussed on the role of trans­gen­der peo­ple in the US mil­i­tary, par­tic­u­larly ap­pro­pri­ate af­ter com­ments by US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump re­cently.

Trump an­nounced in a se­ries of tweets that the gov­ern­ment “will not ac­cept or al­low trans­gen­der in­di­vid­u­als to serve in any ca­pac­ity in the US mil­i­tary”, the move was roundly crit­i­cized by ex-mil­i­tary per­son­nel and civil rights groups. Barack Obama ended a long­time ban on trans peo­ple serv­ing in the mil­i­tary just one year ear­lier.

He clearly didn’t know the story of Al­bert Cashier.

The mu­si­cal is set be­tween 1862 and 1915, and tells the as­ton­ish­ing, “timely, es­sen­tial, in­sight­ful” and true story of “an amaz­ing fig­ure from [our] his­tory”,. stated The Windy City Times.

In The Ci­vil­iTy of Al­bert Cashier, Al­bert Cashier is a Civil War sol­dier with a se­cret that

res­onates with to­day’s mod­ern world. De­tail­ing the sol­dier’s life fight­ing in more than 40 en­gage­ments dur­ing the Civil War, the mu­si­cal fol­lows Cashier through re­tire­ment and the on­set of de­men­tia, when a life-long se­cret was dis­cov­ered: That Al­bert was born Jen­nifer Hodgers. Caus­ing an up­roar in the small south­ern Illi­nois com­mu­nity where Cashier lived, Cashier was pros­e­cuted for impersonating a sol­dier, re­quir­ing fel­low sol­diers to re­turn once again af­ter 60 years to de­tail Al­bert’s hero­ism and life.

‘It is al­ways a thrill to see an au­di­ence re­act to one’s work, how­ever, I have been blown away by the re­sponse to Al­bert Cashier. In ad­di­tion to the crit­i­cal praise, vet­er­ans of all ages, mem­bers of Al­bert’s home town, stu­dents and so many oth­ers have been very vo­cal about what this story means to them. It is truly amaz­ing and on be­half of the whole cre­ative team, the in­cred­i­ble ac­tors and all in­volved, we are so grate­ful and hon­ored to share Al­bert’s timely story,’ Play­wright/ Pro­ducer Jay Paul Der­atany com­mented.

The Ci­vil­iTy of Al­bert Cashier has been work­shopped at The Chicago Mu­si­cal The­atre Fes­ti­val at Vic­tory Gar­dens, and The Los An­ge­les LGBT Arts Cen­ter.

“The tem­per­a­ture Trump sets for our coun­try, the mood he sets and the anger that he’s creat­ing and the po­lar­iza­tion that he’s build­ing be­tween peo­ple – it’s just ter­ri­ble,” Jay added. “But I hope this play bridges some gap.”

With the 95th reg­i­ment, Al­bert Cashier fought in Mis­sis­sippi, Mis­souri and Ten­nessee and Louisiana, march­ing al­most 10,000 miles over three years.

In an ar­ti­cle from the True Repub­li­can news­pa­per, pub­lished in 1913, Sgt Ives, who served along­side Cashier in the 95th, re­mem­bers Cashier taunt­ing Con­fed­er­ate sol­diers.

“Come out of there, you damned rebels, and show your face,” Cashier is al­leged to have said when faced with a con­cealed en­emy.

In his last two years, Al­bert was forced to wear a dress and live as a woman in as asy­lum.

It is said that strug­gling with both his men­tal health and phys­i­cal health, and clad in a long dress, he tripped and fell down a flight of stairs. Cashier broke his hip, be­came bedrid­den, and died on 10 Oc­to­ber 1915. He was 71 years old.

His ex-com­rades made nu­mer­ous at­tempts to have Cashier trans­ferred back to the sol­diers’ and sailors’ home, but were un­suc­cess­ful.

Af­ter his death, his com­rades took pos­ses­sion of his body and or­gan­ised a full mil­i­tary fu­neral and was buried in his Union army uni­form.

SHE WAS A VET­ERAN SOL­DIER OF THE CIVIL WAR, AND MIGHT HAVE PRE­SERVED HER SE­CRET UN­TIL DEATH BUT FOR ILL HEALTH AND THE RE­SUL­TANT NE­GLECT OF HER PHYS­I­CAL WELL­BE­ING, CAUSED THE AU­THOR­I­TIES TO OR­DER TWO AT­TEN­DANTS TO GIVE HER A BATH

Clogher­head, the home of Jen­nie Hodgers

Dani Shay in the Chicago mu­si­cal on Al­bert Cashier (Jen­nie Hodgers) pic­tured in­set.

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