Hometown Hero: Who wants my dad’s war relics?

It’s amazing what can be found in an old footlocker in a moldy basement.

Some stuff can be worth a lot of money and others may just have sentimental value, which makes Bob Moore of Atlanta nervous. Why? Because most baby boomers like him have historical materials they don’t know what to do with, but don’t want them left to an uncertain future.

Moore, a 69-year-old Vietnam veteran, began thinking of this recently when he found an astonishing cache of Civil War relics in an old chest inherited from his dad.

It contained personal belongings of Samuel B. Evans, a Union soldier from Pennsylvania who fought in the Battle of Gettysburg and was mortally wounded at Cold Harbor, Va., the next year.

Turns out Evans was a distant ancestor whose belongings had found their way to Iowa, where Moore grew up.

The cache contains Evan’s war records, his wallet, a small Bible, a mirror, a needle kit, daguerreotypes, fifes, and photographs.

The collection is in remarkably good condition but Moore didn’t know what to do with it. He and his wife Lynn have no children and didn’t want to sell the stuff. They decided a museum might want it.

Those in Iowa didn’t. Thousands of Iowans served in the Civil War and their relics fill museums there. Moore’s wife thought since Evans fought at Gettysburg the Gettysburg National Military Park might be interested. And it was, as soon as park official Andrew Newman plugged Evan’s name into a computer, which instantly showed he’d fought there.

This got Moore to wondering how similar relics are sold, lost or trashed.

And as the son of a World War II hero, it made Moore realize he needed to take steps to preserve his dad’s relics: his Silver Star and Distinguished Service Cross, a British commando knife, railroad tickets, a pistol holster, a teacup from the queen, hats, canteens, his officer’s sword and well-worn combat boots.

So like millions of boomers who have similar relics, he has no place to put them and no interested relative to take them. He is looking for a suitable museum.

Kimberly Brigance, director of historic resources at Heritage Sandy Springs museum, said she’d love to have the relics — had Moore’s father been a local man.

“I think one of the most important places you can donate items is to the local historical or preservation group from the hometown of the soldier,” she said.

Kathy Golden, a curator at the Smithsonian Institution, said she is offered WWII uniforms, medals and equipment almost weekly and turns down 80 percent.

“So we’re not a good place to turn to if someone is looking to give away Uncle Joe’s dress uniform that he never wore,” she said. She said people wanting to donate should go to americanhistory.si.edu/about/departments/armed-forces-history.

Michael Rose of the Atlanta History Center said its staff can make recommendations to the public by email at information@atantahistorycenter.com.

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