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Local collector shares slices of history
JOHN CRAWFORD Review Correspondent
, Staff Writer
Local Civil War collector David Loose of Denver has several items on display at the Rupp House and Civil War Wax Museum in Gettysburg as the town celebrates the 150th anniversary of the battle.
The Civil War Wax Museum, 297 Steinwehr Ave., is displaying items related to the 50th anniversary of the battle.
Items include medals distributed to veterans, souvenirs available for purchase, and various items that were handed out to the nearly 53,000 returning veterans. Photographs, newspaper clippings and other published materials are also on display.
"The thing that fascinates me with the 50th anniversary," said Loose, "is that the veterans were there and the items from the 50th would have been touched and handled. We don’t have a whole lot left from the Civil War that would have been handled by the men who did the fighting.
"The 50th anniversary of Gettysburg became a passion of mine. There was a lot more of the interaction of the veterans at that time. The average age was 72. They were still very mobile."
Another factor which perks his interest is that it was known as the "Great Peacemaker" reunion.
"One of the books I have on display is called ‘Handgrips,’" explained Loose. "The guy who wrote the book was a veteran at the reunion. He talks about the feeling of unity among these soldiers who fought so savagely against each other."
The author describes his fellow vets, Loose continues, as "not just shaking hands but gripping hands. He doesn’t call it a hand shake. They gripped each other’s hands. They patted each other on the back. They embraced each other. To me, that’s a powerful message. To see men who lined up against each other, fighting for a cause and then, 50 years later, saying ‘It’s over. We are now one nation. Let’s shake hands and get on with it.’ That was the message of that reunion," continued Loose.
Among the items is a piece of wood with a bullet embedded in it. In the years after the battle, many trees surrounding the battle sites began dying as a result of the lead bullets poisoning them. The witness trees became collector’s items and many became walking sticks to be sold as souvenirs.
While the Wax Museum highlights the 50th reunion, the display at the Rupp Museum, 1195 Baltimore Pike, displays a more generalized set of items related to the battle and the war.
"The collection at the Rupp House is kind of an eclectic walk through the history of Gettysburg from the battle onward," said Loose.
"The most interesting item is one of the smallest," Loose explained. "It is a tiny worn brass Crucifix that was recovered from the area around the Camp Letterman Hospital. It is in a case of religious artifacts from the period. Who did it belong too? Was it a gift from a loved one carried into battle? Were they one of the wounded? Did they survive? It is something so personal and those are the stories I love about Gettysburg."
The genesis of Loose’s collection was the discovery of stereo view photographs after the passing of his great-uncle Leon Hertzog.
"While we were settling his estate, I came across a set of stereo views," recalled Loose. "I had never seen a set of stereo views before in my life and I became fascinated with them. There is quite a collection of views from Gettysburg. I actually started collecting stereo views and the collection just grew into all kinds of other things."
The second incentive was a passing comment from his mother during a trip to Gettysburg.
"While taking the tour, my mom mentioned that I had an ancestor who was actually in the 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry and would have been at Gettysburg."
Loose began looking for his ancestor and found he was William Weinhold from Akron.
Weinhold fought with the 17th Pennsylvania Calvary Company, which comprised of soldiers from Ephrata, the Cocalico area and Mt. Airy and were known as the Ephrata Mountain boys or the Mountaineers.
"He joined when Lincoln issued the proclamation for 150,000 more soldiers," Loose said. "He was mustered in August or September of 1862 and was trained at Camp Curtain up in Harrisburg"
Weinhold’s Company played a small role at Gettysburg by watching for the Southern troops returning from Wrightsville.
"They were north of the town as part of the bidet system watching for the influx of Confederates. They stayed there until they were relieved by the first Corps. They went east out to the York Road and came back in the York Road."
Weinhold and his unit fought in several campaigns of the war.
"He was wounded in 1864 at the battle of White House Landing. He lost his left arm four inches from the shoulder and spent the next nine months in a hospital in Washington, D.C. He came home, married a girl from Reamstown. They moved to Akron and had five or six children. He died in 1907."
The Rupp House display will remain open until November 19 and the Wax Museum items will be on display until December 31.
More COLLECTOR, page A10