Museum unveils 1893 time capsule

It’s almost as if many of the items were made yesterday.  In the photos, the only element that betrays age is the manner of dress of the subjects.  Other items are obviously old but have traveled time well inside the sealed, metal box.

The C.H. Moore Homestead DeWitt County Museum recently took possession of a time capsule originally entombed inside the DeWitt County Courthouse, erected in 1893.  Its contents are perhaps the most well preserved of any time capsule artifacts examined by museum staff.

The time capsule was opened years earlier but was in storage in the vault of the DeWitt County Clerk’s office.  The county board recently offered to give the capsule and its contents to the museum, where it now will be on display until the end of the season in December.  Visitors on the museum’s annual Candlelight Tours will be able to see the artifacts, which range from a Civil War rifle bullet to a like new photo of the county’s 1848 courthouse to a chunk of plug tobacco with a bite taken out.

‘I’ve been trying to keep every item tucked into the envelopes they were originally in,” said museum manager Joey Woolridge.

She pulled a Civil War rifle bullet from a small metal tin, which was marked as though it once held some sort of calligraphic tools.  Then, she pulled out a piece of old plug tobacco someone had taken a bite out of.

“I thought it was interesting that someone put that in there and thought it was so significant,” Woolridge said.  The tobacco was discovered in the rafters by workers dismantling the 1848 courthouse.  Somehow, it made its way into the 1893 courthouse time capsule.

“Years ago, I did a story about this piece of plug tobacco.” Woodridge recalled.  “Obviously, somebody took a chaw of it and set it aside, and then it got forgotten.”

A little note was included in the time capsule telling about the plug.

More photos and information will appear in later editions of the Clinton Journal.  The time capsule is currently on display at the museum.


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