Thursday, March 11, 2010

New acquisition for the Ramage Museum

The  James A Ramage Civil War Museum has been fortunate enough to acquire recently a letter written on November 20, 1862 by  Cincinnati resident Betsy Sheelman. It is in remarkably good shape, along with envelope in which it was sent.

It is 4 pages long, on one sheet of paper that folds out into 4 sides. The handwriting is beautiful, much better than mine, but is faded just enough to make it slightly difficult to read.

While it discusses everyday normal topics such as "what is butter worth there" (written to her family in New York) and the birth of a friend's daughter, but what makes it so fascinating to the museum is the paragraph where she describes how "We had a big scare this time the rebles (sic) was over in Kentucky only a bout five miles from here." It's not a long section or discussion, but it still is a great first-person overview of the September 1862 threat that many know as the "Siege of Cincinnati." To have such a wonderful document in the museum's possession is just wonderful - it's the perfect type of item for us and the story we tell.

The letter also mentions a Sunday church service at which a military chaplain from the 2nd Ohio regiment gave "as good  sermon as I about ever heard."

The letter writer did not always use punctuation or capital letters like modern writers are used to, but is still fairly easy to read and comprehend.

We already have a spot on our wall reserved for it, once we get it professionally framed. We're still discussing exactly how to frame it - show as much of the original as possible, show a scanned version to protect the original, or show the original front page and section on the local "scare," or other options as we may think of them, but we hope to have it on the wall for public display soon. We will have a full transcription available in the museum (I'll probably start working on it this weekend), but it is so cool and such a wonderful relic, that it is hard to wait to get it on display.

I'll try to post a scanned image of part of the letter once I get one.

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