Bob Walden discusses Civil War era rifles while his wife, Jaynetta, looks on. (Photo by Betsy Allen)
Civil War and frontier era reenactor Bob Walden was the special speaker at the October 30 meeting of the Upper Vandalia Historical Society, where he gave a presentation on the history of firearms during the Civil War. He brought seven different rifles which illustrated the technological progression of fire power during the war.
Some of the guns that Walden brought included a Sharps carbine for cavalryman, a breech-loading Burnside rifle, a Smith carbine, and a Spencer repeating rifle.
Walden also brought several personal belongings which his great grandfather, James Pierce Walden, had carried with him during the Civil War while serving with the 63rd Illinois Infantry. These included a Bible from the American Bible Society and a hymnal which he had found during the Battle of Bull Run.
After Walden had finished speaking, Hotch Parkins of Poca discussed the explosion at the Monsanto Plant in Nitro which happened in 1957. The explosion blew the top off the building, drove a kettle on the second floor 8 feet deep into the first floor, and shattered almost all the glass in Nitro. Eight lives were lost in the accident. Investigation into the cause resulted in the institution of safety measures which affected chemical manufacturing throughout the entire country.
The Upper Vandalia Historical Society meets four times a year at the Bancroft Church of God Mission on Route 62. Meetings feature special speakers and show and tell days in which guests can bring antiques and family heirlooms to share with the group.