May 26, 2005 - (Fort Wayne, IN 4/22/05)


By Eric Olsen

June 18, 2010 Updated Jun 11, 2007 at 10:41 AM EDT

Do you think you have a handle on your own history?
You might want to think again.

The Allen County Historical Museum offers visitors a glimpse of 21Country’s past through its photos and artifacts, but the museum’s real treasures are seldom seen by the public.

They're up on the third floor, locked away from view...too precious, too fragile, or just too weird to be seen by the public.

Todd Pelfrey, with the History Center says, “Things haven't been seen in two, three generations...some of these might not be seen until the 22nd Century again.”

The History Center recently pulled a few of its more rare artifacts for a brief, special exhibit...and some of these items are extremely valuable.

Shortly after his 1927 transatlantic flight, Charles Lindbergh flew over dozens of American cities and towns, dropping personal greetings from his airplane.

Lindbergh dropped this streamer over the Allen County Courthouse in 1928.

Pelfrey says, “There was a little case inside that said ‘Greetings from Mr. Lindbergh’, signed ‘Spirit of St. Louis Company’...trailed down and we do have the name of the person who actually caught it in mid flight. It never hit the ground.”

This is another valuable item...a brass candlestick owned by George Washington, brought to Fort Wayne by a Revolutionary War veteran who worked in Washington’s camp.

This is a piece of General Anthony Wayne’s wood coffin, broken into pieces and handed out as souvenirs when the General's body was moved from its original Erie, Pennsylvania resting place.

This is another gruesome treasure.

Pelfrey says, “It's actually Civil War armor, worn by Lt. Bailey from here in Allen County, and he was wounded at the Battle of Shiloh. You can see where the ball hit.”

Some items in this exhibit were included just for fun.

This is a rocking chair footstool.

This is Fort Wayne-born silent movie star Ruth Budd's boyfriend George, a famous female impersonator in the 1920's.

This was a box of marbles until it went through the great Chicago fire in 1871.

And this stuffed alligator once graced the Old Fort Bookstore...owner William Rockhill would dress it up in costumes to promote new books.

This special exhibit was a huge success with the public, and History Center Education Director Todd Pelfrey says more exhibits like it will follow...meaning additional forays into the museum's lesser known archives, and a further sharing with us of the odder chapters of our own story.

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