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updated: 3/30/2014 7:53 AM

Wheaton Civil War show caters to collectors, historians

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  • Ron Bellenger of Holland, Mich., looks over items on display at the Chicagoland National Civil War and Military Extravaganza at the DuPage County Fairgrounds. A Middleton oil painting of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant stands next to the third pattern of the Confederate national flag.

       Ron Bellenger of Holland, Mich., looks over items on display at the Chicagoland National Civil War and Military Extravaganza at the DuPage County Fairgrounds. A Middleton oil painting of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant stands next to the third pattern of the Confederate national flag.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Tim Prince of College Hill Arsenal of Nashville holds a rare Confederate flintlock during the Chicagoland National Civil War and Military Extravaganza at the DuPage County Fairgrounds.

       Tim Prince of College Hill Arsenal of Nashville holds a rare Confederate flintlock during the Chicagoland National Civil War and Military Extravaganza at the DuPage County Fairgrounds.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Steve Conrad of Peru, Ill., looks over the sword and photo of James P. Crosby of the 1st Iowa Cavalry during the Chicagoland National Civil War and Military Extravaganza at the DuPage County Fairgrounds. He said it was unusual to know who owned the sword and where it came from and also have a photo of the soldier. It was taken at Benton Barracks outside St. Louis, Mo.

       Steve Conrad of Peru, Ill., looks over the sword and photo of James P. Crosby of the 1st Iowa Cavalry during the Chicagoland National Civil War and Military Extravaganza at the DuPage County Fairgrounds. He said it was unusual to know who owned the sword and where it came from and also have a photo of the soldier. It was taken at Benton Barracks outside St. Louis, Mo.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

 
 

Mike Huberty peered into the display case to take one more look at a miniature Civil War era shotgun that was probably used by an outlaw rather than a soldier.

"There's not another one here like it," the vendor told him.

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Huberty, of Hanover Park, continued browsing at the DuPage County Fairgrounds Saturday in Wheaton, as there was another gun that piqued his interest at a different booth.

"For the collector, you can't beat this because of the range of stuff here," said Huberty, who collects vintage tube radios, sports memorabilia and some guns. "It's unbelievable and everything's negotiable, too. Everybody's got their own particular taste. The key is knowing what you're buying."

Hundreds of collectors and Civil War enthusiasts, some dressed in complete gear from the era, visited the 2014 Chicagoland National Civil War and Military Extravaganza.

They browsed rifles, handguns, knifes, swords, coins, flags, books, newspapers and everything in between.

For the Salt Creek Civil War Round Table, the show provided the perfect opportunity to promote their group.

"We use this as recruitment. We want to educate people and let them know there's groups like this available," said Jan Rasmussen, secretary/treasurer and past president.

Rasmussen, of Bartlett, said the group meets on the third Friday of each month to talk Civil War.

"We're just people who are interested in the Civil War," she said. "Sometimes we'll have a group discussion or a program or presentation."

The Camp Douglas Restoration Foundation, a nonprofit group that formed in 2010, also used Saturday's venue to spread its message.

David Keller, the foundation's managing director, said Camp Douglas was located on Chicago's South Side and more than 25,000 Union soldiers were trained there. The 60-acre site also served as a prison for Confederate soldiers, with more than 4,200 dying there.

"There are more Confederates buried in Chicago than anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon Line," Keller said. "Nothing today remains to commemorate (the camp's) existence. Our ultimate goal is to build a museum on the site."

Jesse Ortega of Naperville bought a small cannon Saturday. But his real find was a sextant, an old navigational tool used by sailors.

"I couldn't pass it up for $10. It's got some parts missing," said Ortega. "If anything, it's a conversation piece."

The show returns Sept. 20 to the DuPage County Fairgrounds, 2015 W. Manchester Road, Wheaton.

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