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May 17, 2012

Mystery solved

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Written by: Bruce Snook
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The use of a “mystery item” located at the Gov. John S. Barry Museum in Constantine has possibly been solved.

The "mystery item" located at the Gov. John S. Barry Museum is thought to be an early primitive tobacco leaf cutter/shredder. (Click on photo to enlarge)

At a meeting of the Barry historical society held Tuesday (May 15), the item was identified as an early primitive “tobacco leaf cutter/shredder” by two members of the society, who indicated they had seen a like item identified recently at an antique auction.
The item is very heavy, made of wood and metal and measures 30 inches long with the handle. The cutter box is 18 inches long and 7 l/2 inches x 7 l/2 inches square. There is a tapered roller with spikes on it in the interior. Tobacco is fed into a 3 l/2 inch long slit on one end and the way the spikes are staggered, tobacco is pulled to the end where it comes out a 3/4 inch square small opening.

Martha Starrman, president of St. Joseph County Historical Society, commented they had a similar item and had no clue as to its use.

Civil War items were recently added to a section of the Gov. John S. Barry Museum in Constantine. These include a leather pouch, powder horn, Union soldier photograph, utensils, small soldier's Bible and numerous other items shown.

In other business:

  • On Memorial Day a fundraiser will take place at the museum. Chicken dinners will be sold for $6.50 and rib dinners will be sold for $8.50. A dinner includes baked beans, applesauce, roll & butter and a beverage. It will be held from 11 a.m. until sold out. Free tours will be given all day.
  • Members voted to have the museum open following the Constantine 4th of July parade until 5 p.m.
  • During a show and tell session, Civil War buff Kevin Mallo brought in historic photos and memorabilia to share. Recently the Barry home has put additional Civil War items on display, including utensils, a powder horn, leather pouch, Union soldier photograph, Civil War bonnet and a small soldier’s Bible among other items.
  • Becky Shank, chapter regent of the DAR presented vintage family photos with history of the James King family. Photos were shown at an open house at the Sue Silliman home in Three Rivers earlier.

The museum is open in summer months from 1 to 5 p.m. on the first Sunday of the month. Tours are available by appointment also. For more information, call President Kevin Mallo at (269) 506-1575.

Source:  Story and photos contributed by Angie Birdsall.






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