BELPRE - Farmers' Castle Museum and Education Center is marking the sesquicentennial of the Civil War with exhibits with local connections to the Underground Railroad and providing research materials, including copies of some out-of-print materials.
The museum at Ridge and Locust streets in Belpre features an Underground Railroad exhibit, with local historian/author Henry Burke available, by appointment, to speak to groups . Appointments can be made by calling 423-7588.
The museum is also featuring Civil War Union Army service medals on loan from Belpre residents and a slave collar and shackles. The collar is stamped with the name of a plantation in Macon, Ga., and dated in the 1860s. The plantation sold slaves and horses, according to the wording on the collar. All the exhibits will be on display through 2015.
"We also have calendars that showcase what happened during the war that year. The exhibits will be rotated and changed and new exhibits will be displayed as they come in," said Nancy Sams, with the Belpre Historical Society, which operates the museum. Anyone interested in loaning Civil War-related memorabilia for exhibition can call the museum.
"Some of the visitors to the museum have been amazed at how many books we have on the Civil War and, of course, that is the tip of the iceberg on what's been written. They also like looking at the 1861 map of the U.S. that we have. Many are appalled when they look at the slave exhibit. It's hard to believe human beings could have treated other human beings in that matter. Many people have never seen things like the collar, and they just can't fathom it," Sams said.
"The artifacts from that period really impact people when they see them. The collar actually has a lock on it. We weighed the ball connected to the chain, it weighs more than 20 pounds," Sams said.
The museum has partnered with AmeriCorps as part of Ohio's 150th Civil War observance.
The Southeastern Underground Railroad information exhibit is a permanent display and is based on research by Burke, who has written several books on the subject.
The magazines, photos, history books and articles that are on display at the museum for the Civil War cannot be removed from the museum, but copies can be made.
"We have older issues of the Blue and Gray that have information people are interested in; they are out of print. We also have a lot of pictures and other printed materials, including at least two books with photos taken by Matthew Brady in them," Sams said. Other materials include a "Time-Life" 20-volume series; "A Shelby Foote" series from a southern perspective; "Civil War Preservation Trust" reviews the current preservation efforts and conditions of historic battlefields, and maps showing troop movements.
Generally, the museum is hosted by volunteers on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, April to October, from 1-4 p.m. or by appointment especially for groups. Contact the museum at (740) 423-7588 or (740) 423-7382.
and leave a message. For more information on Ohio 150 go to www.ohiocivilwar150.org/americorps/.