Local News

Time capsule found in downtown Raleigh Confederate memorial statue base

Posted June 29, 2020 5:18 p.m. EDT
Updated June 30, 2020 5:04 p.m. EDT

— A time capsule from the late 1800s was uncovered inside a Confederate monument as crews worked to dismantle and remove the monument's base in downtown Raleigh this week.

The Confederate monument sits on the Capitol grounds, facing Hillsborough Street. The monument was dedicated on May 20, 1895.

The capsule is with the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources and has not been opened yet.

Time capsule found inside Raleigh Confederate monument base

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

Walker tells WRAL News that they plan to open the capsule later this week under lab conditions.

However, there are clues as to what could be inside the capsule. History experts say finding capsules hidden inside Confederate monuments is relatively common.

"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.

WRAL News is working to gather more information about what the capsule could contain.

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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