Managing Member & Webmaster
- Apr 1, 1999
- Martinsburg, WV
The Robert E. Lee monument in Richmond was dedicated on May 29, 1890. But before that, a cornerstone was laid on October 27, 1887. It contained a time capsule with several interesting items inside.
When the plans for the monument were drawn up, in the cornerstone, a space for a copper capsule was included. Created by Capt. J. E. Phillips, the engineer who would be excavating the property, the small storage box would be about 14" by 14" and 8" deep. This box would be placed into the cornerstone and sealed with a heavy lid.
What did they put in the Time Capsule?
On the morning of October 25th, two days before the Cornerstone Ceremony, Mr. William B. Isaacs, the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Virginia A.F and A.M., finished loading and cataloging all the items to be stored in the time capsule in his office in Richmond. When everything was safely stored inside, the copper capsule was closed for the final time for at least one hundred and thirty some-odd years...so far... A few minutes later, the Cornerstone was sealed closed with the capsule inside, at about Noon in Richmond.
However, we are lucky that Mr. Isaacs' provided a copy of his catalog to be published in the local Newspaper! Using the Library of Congress Newspaper Collection, I was able to locate a copy of the Daily Times of Richmond for October 26, 1887, this shows a complete accounting of every item on page 1. I've included a copy of the newspaper clipping on the left! It includes the names of the People, Businesses, and Organizations who donated to the Time Capsule.
I've also included a transcription with each donated item numbered, there are 60 of them:
1. Compiled History of the Monumental ChurchT. A. Brander
2. Roll of Company B, 12th VA InfantryJ.B. Halyburton
3. Statistics of the City of RichmondP.J. White
4. Constitution & Bylaws of Lee Camp, Confederate Vets
5. Program of Banquet to Lynn Post, No. 5Cyrus Bossieux
6. Virginia Confederate ButtonsJ.W. Talley
7. Battle Flag & Square & Compass made from tree over Stonewall Jackson's GraveCharles & Walter Harwood
8. Twelve Copper CoinsGeorge T. Mattern
9. Muster Roll of Richmond Sharpshooters, 21st VA RegCarlton McCarthy
10. Badge of the Assoc. of the Army of Northern VASaks & Co.
11. Circular Ad.M. Staples & Co.
12. Copy of Emigrant's FriendMrs. H.A. Marshall
13. Genelogical Tree of the Lee FamilyF.W. Jones
14. Confederate Treasury NotesJohn F. Mayer
15. Copy of the seal of the Adjutant-General of the Confederate States
16. A $100,000 Confederate Bond, registeredMaster Notting
17. $1 Confederate NoteW.T. Moseley
18. English penny of 1812J.H. Capers
19. Roll of officers & members of Richmond Commandery, No. 2
20. Individual card of Edward W. Price, general commander, New Jersey
21. Program of the Ancient Order of Nobels of the Mystic Shrine on the occasion of the laying of the corner stoneGeorge Ainslie
22. reports of the Chamber of Commerce for 1886 & 1887
23. Constitution & Bylaws of the Virginia Mechanics Institute
24. Bylaws of the Richmond Commandery, No. 2James E. Goode
25. Warrok-Richardson Virginia Almanac for 1887Emma R. Ball
26. Report Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, 1887Miss Pattie Leake
27. Picture of Lincoln lying in his coffinW.H. Sands
28. Program Ancient Order Nobels of Mystic Shrine laying corner stone of Lee MonumentJ.W. Randolph & English
29. Soldiers' Life Army of Northern VA
30. Memorial Volume of the Army of Northern VA
31. A Guide to Richmond, with Maps of Richmond and VA
32.Badge from Cornerstone parade
33. History of 1st Battle of Manassas
34. Grantham's Historical Account of some Memorable Actions in VA, 1716James ALfred Jones
35. Weekly Dispatch Oct 21, 1887, Containing letter of Hon. W.W. Corcoran on LeeMiss Nettie Lee Brown
36. W. Gordon McCabe's address at the reunion of Pegram's battalion
37. Picture of memorial window or Pegram's battlefield at Soldiers' Home
38. Gray & Blue badgeMaster Frank Brown
39. Piece of Stone Wall, Fredericksburg, Va.
40. Three bullets from Fredericksburg
41. One piece of shell from Fredericksburg
42. One piece of wood with a minnie-ball in it from Battle at Fredericksburg
43. A cut from a tree at the Bloody Angle, SpotsylvaniaHenry H. Turner
44. Individual CardC.S. De Villiers
45. Program of 3 exhibitions by Bremond Institute for Lee Monument fund
46. A button from the coat of Capt. BremondBlair Meanley
47. Individual CardWilliam B. Issiacs
48. Assortment of U.S. silver and copper coins
49. Richmond DirectoryCarlton McCarthy
50. One U.S. Silver Dollar, 1886Richmond Times
51. Copy of paper from October 23, 1887J. Thompson Brown
52. Assortment of U.S. fractional coinsThomas J. Starke
53. One Holy BibleW.B. Isaacs
54. Copies of charters issued by Grand Lodge, Grand Chapter & Grand Commandery of VA to its subordinates (on parchment)Grand Lodge of Virginia
55. 4th Edition Grand Lodge Textbook
56. Copy Textbook Grand Lodge Chapter of VA & Digest
57. Copy Grand Constitution of Grand Encampment US Knights Templars & proceedings 1886
58. Copy of Proceedings 1886, Grand Lodge, Grand Ghapter, and Grand Commandery of VA
59. Program of excercises observed on occasion of laying of Lee monument Cornerstone
60. Reprints of proceedings of Grand Lodge of Virginia from 1877 to 1822, containing steel engravings of all grand masters during that period, and also engravings of Dr. John Dove & Hon. R.E. Withers.
The one item that may have caught your eye, if you are in the know, is item #27. Historians say that they are confused by this listing. There is only one authentic photo like this known, if this one is also authentic, it would be #2, and also raise a lot of questions...
You can Read About the Time Capsule in the October 26, 1887 edition of
the Daily Times Newspaper on Page 1 Here:
The Daily times. [volume] (Richmond, Va.) 1886-1889, October 26, 1887, Image 1, brought to you by Library of Virginia; Richmond, VA, and the National Digital Newspaper Program.
You can Read About the Parade & Grand Ceremony to Place the Cornerstone on October 28, 1887 edition of
the Daily Times Newspaper on Page 1 & Page 4 Here:
The Daily times. [volume] (Richmond, Va.) 1886-1889, October 28, 1887, Image 1, brought to you by Library of Virginia; Richmond, VA, and the National Digital Newspaper Program.
You can read more about this story here:
Does the base of the Robert E. Lee statue hold a bizarre treasure?
Learn all about the Robert E. Lee Monument in Richmond in this Thread:
MONUMENT PROFILE Monument Ave, Richmond, VA ©Michael Kendra, 2015. Battlefield: City of Richmond, Virginia Location: Lee Circle at the intersection of Monument Avenue and Allen Avenue Map Coordinates: 37° 33' 13.70", -77° 27' 36.30" Added to National Register of Historic Places: January 5...