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The sword in the attic…and a boy’s curiosity. What a search revealed—and a question unanswered.

Recently, on a weekday tour, a young boy and his mother were escorted to the Homestead attic. Much of the memorabilia, letters, and photographs have already been removed and archived. But among the spinning wheels, candle molds, and sundry trunks still remaining is one military sword.

As to be expected, the sword caught the eye of the young visitor who was already an avid history buff. To date, the sword had not been researched. Now, after some sleuthing, the era and maker of the sword is known. How it came to be in the Homestead attic remains a mystery.

Looking closely just below the sword’s guard, there is the engraving “H.G. Hamlin Jr. Cincinnati O.” Hannibal Gilmore Hamlin Jr., born c. 1836, was a sword maker during the Civil War. The sword appears to be a Civil War Officer’s Sword. [Reportedly, this Hannibal Hamlin was a third cousin of Hannibal Hamlin, Lincoln’s first VP.]

To date, we have not found any Mather family history that reflects service during the Civil War. Was the sword purchased for participation in a historical reenactment in Darien? Was it a gift to Stephen or his father? That remains to be answered.

In the arc of history at the Homestead—from the American Revolution to the founding of the National Parks—it seems fitting that this bit of Civil War history should share the stage.

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