Memorabilia tell of yesteryear



February 17, 2010 - 12:00 AM

A lead mini-ball fired from a Civil War rifle would shatter a bone in a soldier’s arm so badly that he would be crippled for life — if he lived.
The mini-ball, designed for a weapon with a rifled barrel, two smooth bore balls and a chunk of grapeshot were Jeff Kluever’s contribution to an Allen County Historical Society show-and-tell Tuesday evening at the Gen. Frederick Funston Meeting Hall.
Kluever is the Society’s new director and museum curator.
The three small bullets were excavated at Gettysburg, Kluever said, and were staple ammunition for soldiers engaged in the Civil War 150 years ago.
The grapeshot, a pitted lead ball about the size of a small lemon, was fired from a cannon, he said.
“They gathered up grapeshot and anything else off the floor (of an armory) and put it all in a canister about the size of a coffee can,” Kluever recounted. “When fired, the canister disintegrated” and the discharge was like that from a shotgun. “It had a range of about 50 yards and could kill 20 to 30 men.”
The Union had more armories and better organized distribution of weapons, ammunition and other material than the Confederate Army, he said. The Confederates had armories at Richmond and Atlanta, but because of the states’ rights philosophy, distribution wasn’t universal.
“Individual states would hoard what they had,” which often caused Confederate forces to run short of supplies, Kluever said.

OTHERS brought antiques and memorabilia.
Loretta Andres wasn’t sure what she had. “Just one of the many strange things I have in my house,” she said. Consensus said Andres’ article was a kerosene heater, probably used in a brooder.
Nic Lohman, a clinical pharmacologist, showed a vintage medicine bottle, its contents sealed in by a cork that “I can’t get out.” The cork didn’t prevent escape of an odor, though, he noted.
Roger Carswell showed a perforated tin lantern, a keepsake for two centuries in his wife Kris’ family. On the bottom are dates of when it was passed from one person to another: the oldest was 1842.
Gale Beck had a small cast iron funnel that none of the more than 20 viewers could identify.
“It was put on the spout of a water pump to fill jugs,” Beck said, pointing out two tabs that held it in place. His wife, Joan, had a brass candleholder with a swivel that kept the candle perpendicular to the floor if the base were held at an angle.
Leon Harris, with the aid of documents and photographs, told how his grandmother began teaching in a country school about 1900. She taught for a decade before she was forced into retirement. Her annual salaries began at $40 a month and rose to $55 over several years. She married on the sly to keep her job, but the strategy fizzled when she became pregnant.

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