Published: Tuesday, August 9, 2005
New movie to tell story of Civil War mascot Dog Jack
Parts of the film are being shot in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
By VIRGINIA ROSS
DARLINGTON, Pa. Florence Biros saw the picture of Dog Jack hanging on a wall at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh and knew she had to learn more about the former mascot of the 102nd Regiment P.V.V. Washington Infantry.
"I fell in love," said Biros, of New Wilmington, Pa. "That was over 30 years ago, and I am still fascinated with him."
Biros recently accompanied a movie crew to Fishers of Boys Christian retreat center in Darlington Township, Beaver County. After decades of waiting and trying to convince movie makers that Dog Jack is a worthy subject, Biros is watching a lifelong dream come true.
"I always thought this story would make a wonderful movie," she said. "We'll see if everyone else agrees."
More than 130 years ago, the mongrel dog wandered into the Fifth Avenue Fire House in Pittsburgh. When the firefighters volunteered to join the 102nd, Dog Jack became part of the Civil War regiment along with the men. He became a prisoner of war after being captured by the Confederate Army. Later, he was exchanged for a Confederate soldier and returned to his regiment.
Inspired by Dog Jack's story, Biros incorporated it into a novel about the animal, a runaway slave boy named Jed and the chaplain A.M. Stewart.
McDougal Films of Chicago is putting the story to film. Parts of the movie are being filmed in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio and in Illinois. For the last few weeks, battle scenes have been created at Fishers of Boys. Local filming is wrapping up this week.
Biros said the more she learned about Dog Jack the more she came to love him. She has sold thousands of copies of her book, which is available through the publishing house she and her husband own, Son-Rise Publications & Distribution Co. of New Wilmington.
"I started researching Jack, and I couldn't stop," she said. "I found myself crying about a dog. I couldn't believe it. But his story touches hearts. I receive letters from children all the time. They've read the book, and they love him."
Biros said she is hopeful a premiere showing of the film will be presented at Soldiers and Sailors.
"It's such a wonderful story," she said. "I am hoping the result is a touching, heartwarming, family movie. I think Jack deserves that."
XInformation about the book or the film may be obtained through the Web site www.sonrisepublications.com or by calling (800) 358-0777.