New Castle News

Closer Look

June 25, 2013

Pieces of the past: Ken Turner of Ellwood City has contributed about 250 items to the recently opened Civil War exhibit at Pittsburgh’s Heinz History Center.

NEW CASTLE —

A new exhibit focusing on Pennsylvania in the Civil War opened Saturday at Pittsburgh’s Heinz History Center.

And an Ellwood City business owner has a role in it.

Ken Turner, funeral director of Turner Funeral Home, along with Neshannock High School graduate Michael Kraus and David Neville of Export, Pa, are the authors of “The Civil War in Pennsylvania: A Photographic History.” The book, which Turner says has been very successful in sales, is published by the history center, and is a project of Pennsylvania Civil War 150, a statewide coalition of historical organizations.

The exhibit, “Pennsylvania’s Civil War,” marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

The exhibit is based on the book and is “huge,” Turner said, adding he contributed about 250 items from his own personal collection.

There are also other artifacts, including a life mask of Abraham Lincoln, made by a Pittsburgh man weeks before the President’s assassination and a full-size replica of the world’s largest cannon, the Rodman gun. It weighs 18,000 pounds. The original cannon was built at the Fort Pitt Foundry.

The artifacts come from the history center’s collection and private collectors such as Turner. They also include rifles, pistols, card and board games, clothing, pictures and letters.

And there are six, life-size figures such as Dog Jack, the beloved mascot of the 102nd Pennsylvania Volunteers, and dresses of that period displayed on mannequins.

A fiddle, which belongs to Turner, had carvings on both the front and back of the violin and the names were filled with wax so they could easily be seen, he said. Some the writings from members of the 193rd Regiment mention Old Iron City, a reference to Pittsburgh.

Turner also lent a sword and photo albums of soldiers including Cooper’s Battery in Mount Jackson. Kraus contributed a kepi, a Civil War cap that belonged to a man from Wampum in the 200th Regiment, Roundheads. Kraus is the curator of Soliders and Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh.

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