Local News

Buttons, horse hair among items found in time capsule of Confederate monument

Posted July 2, 2020 1:52 p.m. EDT
Updated July 2, 2020 2:19 p.m. EDT

— Archaeologists and conservators from the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources are carefully removing and cataloging items found inside a time capsule that was buried in 1894 beneath the cornerstone of the Confederate Soldiers Monument on Union Square in Raleigh.

After the monument and base were removed last week, the capsule was found.

On Thursday, the rusted metal box was carefully opened.

Time capsule inside Raleigh Confederate monument

While much of what was inside had been damaged by exposure, a few items were quickly identifiable, including buttons attached to a piece of fabric and a strand of what appears to be horse hair, according to an update from the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Time capsule inside Raleigh Confederate monument

According to Michele Walker with the State Archives, the capsule was placed in base of the monument in 1894.

History experts say finding capsules hidden inside Confederate monuments is relatively common.

Time capsule inside Raleigh Confederate monument

"Most of them include newspapers from the time. They may include copies of of the dedication and addresses that were delivered," said historian Kevin Levin.

Levin said some capsules hold photos of prominent Confederate leaders, such as Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson.

Possible clues in a newspaper clipping from 1894

A newspaper article Raleigh's The Daily Press, published on May 22, 1894 makes mention of 'The Great Event,' wherein 'the cornerstone of the Confederate monument laid in the presence of a large concourse of people.'

Raleigh newspaper that mentions a time capsule in the Confederate monument

The article reads, "The following items were deposited in the corner stone:"

  • A button from the coat of a cadet of the Hillsboro Academy killed near the end of the war in Goldsboro
  • A button cut from the dress coat of Gen. Lee by Mrs. Lee and given by her to Miss Cameron
  • A rosebud from the coat of Gen. Lee
  • The roster of Gen. Branch, Gen. Gordon, Gen. Hill, Gen. Grimes.
  • Address by Gen. Scales on the Battle of Fredricksburg
  • Address of Col. Waddell on The Confederate Soldier, delivered in New York
  • Address by Senator Vance, before the Andrew Post, Boston, on Social Condition of the South during the war
  • An account of the Charge at Gettysburg
  • A copy of the Fayetteville Observer from 1892
  • A Confederate Testament, Hymn book, arithmetic
  • Confederate bills, state bills, a colonial bill
  • A map of Wake County
  • A North Carolina Almanac for 1894
  • A copy of the Wilmington Star

The article goes on to list many more items that would have been considered relevant to the social culture of the era.

As the article is over 100 years old, it can be difficult to determine whether or not this article specifically relates to the time capsule found by crews when removing the monument. However, the location and timing seem to closely match, as the dedication date of the monument was May 20, 1895, only a year later.

Here is a clipping from the newspaper. Please click the image to fully load. This article explains items put inside a box in the cornerstone, as well as people who attended the event and spoke.

Raleigh newspaper that mentions a time capsule in the Confederate monument

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