RUSSELL — The mystery of 112 years of history was unveiled before an overflow crowd Monday at the Russell County Courthouse.
Russell County commissioners revealed the contents of a copper box time capsule Monday morning that had been buried in the courthouse building on July 31, 1902.
The copper box that weighed 10 pounds was recovered by the Quinter Manufacturing Company after it dropped from the original cornerstone at the Russell County Courthouse during recent renovation work.
Bunker Hill’s Alan Kuntzsch, Russell County commissioner, said the crew was on the lookout for a buried time capsule.
“They told us to maybe watch for it,” he said. “They looked behind the stone. They reached in behind the stone, but it was inside the stone. The cornerstone had a notch cut in it.”
After several 1901 newspapers, lodge guides and church-related materials were revealed, Commissioner Bradley Zweifel uncovered the find of the day — a 1901 Morgan Silver Dollar, which had tarnished over the years. The Morgan Silver Dollar was preserved safely inside a book.
The Morgan Dollar was minted between 1878 and 1921 and is named after George T. Morgan, who designed the coin as an engraver at the United States Mint. On the front, there is a portrait of Lady Liberty and on the reverse side, there is a picture of an eagle with wings flared out wide. The 1901 Silver Dollar can be difficult to find in uncirculated condition.
Another interesting trinket was a shiny medallion from the Russell Masonic Lodge.
The copper box uncovered clippings from several publications — The Russell Record, the oldest newspaper in Russell County; The Russell Reformer, The Lucas Sentinel; and the Luray Herald.
Items were revealed from the first church in Russell, The First Congressional Church; and from the United Methodist Church in Russell.
Other items were from the Russell County Institute; a Blue Hill Lodge 98; a Russell Blue Hill Lodge with Lucas and Ellis Lodges; a Russell Lodge book with bylaws; the Northwest Kansas Conference of the United Brethren and a yearbook.
Kay Homewood, Russell County Historical Society, said it was fun to see history unfold before everyone’s eyes. Fifth graders from Russell schools witnessed the ceremony.
“We’ve have capsules buried in the city, but this is the first time we’ve had a capsule that we could open up and see,” Homewood said. “Opening time capsules are few-and-far between. You are taking part in history when the people first put the city in. There were celebrations and fireworks. It was special to see that.”
Homewood said the community interest was high with people packed in the doorways.
“It was fun to hear everyone talking about history,” she said.
Russell’s Steve Boxberger, commissioner, said, “We figured we’d have a full house and that was encouraging, People were interested. There was anticipation seeing what they thought might be there. People who have been around time capsules before were not surprised. There was newspapers from the day and Masonic papers.”
Bunker Hill’s Alan Kuntzsch, commissioner, “That was a fun morning to see what was in it. I was excited to see that many people here. Some of the little kids could see part of their city’s history. We have a lot of good historians here who take great pride in their county. They preserve everything for us.”
Homewood said the commissioners took great care by wearing white gloves to preserve the historical items.
“They came over and wondered what they should do when they first round the time capsule. They asked what type of gloves they should wear,” she said.
Homewood said one of the basic rules of handling artifacts is that you just don’t touch them. Curators, educators and docents have a cache of white cotton gloves at our disposal to safely handle artifacts in a museum’s collection.