The United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) held their March meeting at Taylor’s Bake Shop on Saturday, March 10. The program was “Trains, Campaigns and Scarlett O’Hara.”
Laura Wax did an excellent job of blending the real life of Wilbur G. Kurtz with a historical work of fiction written by Mrs. John R. Marsh.
Wilbur Kurtz was born in Oakland, Illinois, in 1882. With ancestors who fought for the North during the Civil War, Kurtz developed a fascination with the war, trains, and the antebellum South. He began drawing as a child and went to the Art Institute of Chicago. His skill as an artist and his interest in southern history led him to Captain William Fuller who was the engineer who drove the locomotive “Texas” backwards while in pursuit of the “General” during Andrews Raid at Big Shanty, Georgia, on April 1, 1862.
Kurtz’s historical knowledge was so good, that in 1935, he was asked by Mrs. John R. Marsh, who wrote under her maiden name Margaret Mitchell, to review her book because she feared it contained some historical errors.
Mitchell’s book, “Gone with the Wind,” was such a success that Selznick movie executives offered her $50,000 for the movie rights, which was an unheard-of sum in the late 1930s. She sold the rights, but refused, however, to be the film’s historical advisor and recommended Kurtz. He accepted.
The amazing thing about the movie and Kurtz’s art work was the fact that many of the “sets” in the movie weren’t real. Twelve Oaks, for instance, never existed. What appeared in the movie was Kurtz’s paintings.
Wax brought a number of books from her personal “Gone with the Wind” collection to aid in her presentation.