Monday, February 6, 2023

This time capsule in York County funded by the Daughters of the Confederacy will be opened in 2060. Items inside represent both sides

A time capsule in the York-Poquoson Courthouse contains new local Civil War history and can be opened in 2060, to celebrate the bicentennial of the Civil War. (WYDaily/Julia Marsigliano)
A time capsule in the York-Poquoson Courthouse contains new local Civil War history and can be opened in 2060, to celebrate the bicentennial of the Civil War. (WYDaily/Julia Marsigliano)

In the lobby of the York-Poquoson Courthouse, a time capsule rests waiting to be open decades from now.

The time capsule was placed in the lobby during York County’s sesquicentennial anniversary of the Civil War in 2012, said Bonnie Karwac, a member of the board of directors for the York County Historical Museum.

An inscription reads on the side of the time capsule that it was funded through the United Daughters of the Confederacy Peninsula Campaign Chapter and it should be opened in the year 2060.

Karwac said even though the Daughters of the Confederacy funded the capsule, the items and artifacts inside represent both sides of Civil War history.

“It’s nothing pro-south,” she said. “It’s nothing to promote the Confederacy or anything like that.”

In fact, the time capsule has different items compiled inside as part of a larger culmination project to collect local Civil War history.

York County formed a Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Committee in 2009 that worked with neighboring jurisdictions to research and organize a celebration for the sesquicentennial. It was part of a statewide initiative to commemorate the time period.

“It was based in tourism but also trying to capture some historical points,” Karwac said. “Because a lot of people didn’t remember the centennial celebration so people figured maybe people would want this [time capsule] to celebrate the bicentennial.”

The American Civil War began in 1861 and people across the nation celebrated its centennial anniversary in the 1960s, including in Yorktown. 

While Yorktown is partially known for the American Revolution, it also has had an important history during the Civil War. 

Yorktown became significant to both the Union and the Confederacy because it was strategically situated near rivers that would allow access to Richmond. As a result there was a struggle from both sides to siege the area throughout the war.

Since then the Historic Triangle has worked to collect and commemorate various aspects of the war.

But more recent celebrations have allowed historians to commemorate the Civil War with newly found artifacts, historical documents and other aspects of local history. For example, Karwac said there are newly documented sites that would’ve been standing during the Civil War and even some trench area’s in people’s backyards.

“There were a bunch of people on the committee and the time capsule had all sorts of things in it for people to open on the next anniversary,” she said. “It’s things like [backyard trenches] that we were trying to make sure were documented so people years from now, who are more removed, would know where things were at this time.”

There were a variety of events during the sesquicentennial celebration in 2012, including a Civil War balloon observation exhibit, during which presenters showed how balloons were used for observation and surveillance during the war. 

While the sesquicentennial celebration has come and gone, the time capsule in the courthouse reminds people of a continuing effort to collect and remember Civil War history.

A representative from the United Daughters of the Confederacy Peninsula Campaign Chapter was not immediately available for comment.

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Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doironhttp://wydaily.com
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at alexa@localvoicemedia.com.

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