Anthropology professor Dr. David Bush, who has spent more than two decades conducting archaeological and historical research into the Civil War prison at Johnson’s Island, will be one of the featured experts in a new, one-hour documentary due for release this week.
Rebels on Lake Erie – A Pirate, a Prison, a Plot is a fascinating story of intrigue, conspiracy and adventure. It’s based on the real-life story of John Yates Beall, who became a “pirate” in his attempt to liberate the Confederate prisoner-of-war depot on Johnson’s Island in 1864.
Producer/director Dr. Kathleen L. Endress, distinguished professor of communication at the University of Akron, took three years to research and film the documentary for American Public Television. It will be premiered at an event at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11, at Way Library in Perrysburg. Following the airing, bush and Endress will be on hand to offer post-film interpretation and discussion.
If you can’t make it to the premiere, you can watch Rebels on Lake Erie on WGTE (channel 3 on Time Warner Cable in Tiffin) at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13.
Endress’s extensive research efforts – with Bush at Johnson’s Island, in Sandusky and in Beall’s jail cell on Governor’s Island in the New York City Harbor – paid off. She produced a true-to-life film that he believes viewers will enjoy.
The film crew spent time at the Johnson’s Island archaeological site and cemetery last summer while Bush was conducting his field school at the prison site. “She was interested in part of the archaeological work and research and historical information we’ve uncovered relative to the site,” Bush said.
For his part, Bush received about four rough cuts of the documentary in various stages and the opportunity to offer suggestions for edits. Overall, he’s satisfied with the finished product. “I’m very happy with it,” he said. “It’s nicely done.”
Bush plans to donate one of his personal copies of the documentary to Beeghly Library.
(Photo courtesy of Friends and Descendents of Johnson’s Island)