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Civil War History on Display in Cedar Rapids

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Every second Saturday of the month, from November through March, pieces of Civil War history come alive at the Carl and Mary Koehler History Center.

"This is a badge of rank. It is required to be worn," said Rich Hunt, a re-enactor dressed in full costume. He was showing off an officer's sword to a group passing through.

This officer's sword is one of many items that can give curiosity-seekers a better understanding of the Civil War era. Some pieces, like the sword and a pair of binoculars, are real. Others are simply realistic-looking reproductions.

Every so often, however, something special is brought in by locals like Lew Eells.

"My great-great grandfather's civil war drum," Eells said, showing it off to one of the center's historians.

Eells is trying to uncover the drum's history, where it traveled, and who made it. But he'll need learn a bit more about his great-great grandfather, Sergeant Walter Goodrich, before the drum's story becomes clearer.

"He founded Lehigh iowa," said Eells. "He was a mayor and a county supervisor up at Fort Dodge."

Artifacts like this are hidden treasures that tell a bigger story, one of a new state just getting on its feet as war started.

"Linn County was very young at the time, and the population was not very great, but of the established counties in eastern Iowa, at the start of the Civil War, Linn County by sheer numbers sent more volunteers for enlistment than any other county in eastern Iowa at that time," said Mark Stoffer Hunter, a historian.

Hunter believes there are more undiscovered treasures dating back to the Civil War era, just waiting to be found. He urges anyone who does find something to bring it in.

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