Toledo Stories: Rebels on Lake Erie
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Toledo Stories: Rebels on Lake Erie

Thursday, July 10 at 8:00 p.m.

In September 1864, a college-educated pirate from Virginia sailed out onto Lake Erie, iintent on liberating the Confederate officers imprisoned on Johnson’s Island, near Sandusky, Ohio.

That’s just part of this story of intrigue, conspiracy and adventure about the Civil War.

Emmy Award-nominated "Rebels on Lake Erie" tells the story of young John Yates Beall and his abortive attempt to liberate the Confederate prisoner-of-war depot on Johnson’s Island.

That prison was unique in the Civil War. It was built specifically to hold all captured Confederate soldiers. But as the war dragged on and more Confederate prisoners were captured, the prison was converted to one that held officers only. That made Johnson’s Island unique among all the Union prisons, said David Bush, Johnson’s Island expert interviewed in the documentary. During the Civil War, more than 10,000 Confederate officers at one time called Johnson’s Island home.

Pirate John Yates Beall was unique as well.  The wealthy Virginia plantation owner served under the legendary Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. But Beall is best known for his exploits on the Chesapeake Bay and Lake Erie. 

Three years in the making, the documentary was written, directed and produced by Kathleen Endres, a native of Toledo who teaches in the School of Communication of The University of Akron under a grant from the Ohio Humanities Council.

Pictured above: Johnson's Island at the time of the Civil War. At right: J.Y. Beall.