A museum patron’s private collection supplied approximately 110 pieces from the Battle of Gettysburg, including rifles, swords, ammunition, newspaper clippings, letters, photographs and illustrations. Curator Deborah Baker organized the exhibition to highlight the skirmish from different perspectives, giving precedence to civilians.
“That’s what we’re trying to present: not just the battle experience from the soldiers’ perspective, but also from the people who lived through [it],” Baker said.
On display through Aug. 10, the exhibition also identifies 21 Civil War veterans who migrated to Edmond during the Land Run of 1889 or shortly after, she said, adding that of the 21, four fought at Gettysburg.“It should not be a surprise that Edmond was home to several of the soldiers who survived and thrived,” said Jena Mottola, the museum’s executive director. “They were the building blocks of our success of today.”
Col. Eddy B. Townsend was one of Edmond’s first legal settlers, homesteading land located west of Boulevard and south of Second Street, the area where the city’s historical society now stands, Baker said.
“He built the first house in Edmond, was a key figure in building the town and donated the land that is currently Stephenson Park to the citizens of Edmond in 1892,” she said, noting that celebrating Edmond’s history in connection with the Pennsylvania battle is Legacy’s main goal. “The nice thing about an exhibit like this is when we have a piece that connects it [locally], it usually is a good opportunity for people to elaborate on that.”
In February, Baker began research for the exhibition by speaking with relatives of the Edmond pioneers and reading up on the battle. She said she considers her research ongoing, as people bring in their personal connections and backgrounds to bulk up the local history.
She said she hopes to add more veterans to the exhibition as she confirms their information.
The history lies all in the numbers with this particular battle, with approximately 165,000 people invading the town of Gettysburg, which had a population of 2,400 people at the time, according to the Gettysburg Foundation. Within three days of fighting (July 1-3) in 1863, some 51,000 soldiers became casualties, making it the bloodiest battle of the four-year war.
“The romance of the era [and] the authenticity of the battles and fighting [are] quite different from how wars are fought today,” Mottola said.