Dennis E. Black
The weather forecast for Sunday, November 9, 2014, called for a splendid day for anyone wanting to venture out on an antiquing trip. My friend, Larry Hauver, asked me to consider going along with him that day to the first York Antique Bottle Show. I was reluctant to go, with so many things that needed to be done, but he talked me into it—as he usually does. I’m thankful that he did.
There were a fair number of dealers at the York show, with the usual assortment of collectibles being offered for sale, in addition to bottles. About an hour into the show, I happened to be checking out the display of a bottle dealer (Tom Gordon) from Manchester, Maryland, when I noticed a potential buyer beside me, holding a small Bible that the dealer had for sale. During the conversation between the two, I heard the dealer explain that the Bible belonged to a Frederick County, Maryland, Civil War soldier. That piqued my interest.
After the potential buyer returned the Bible to the dealer’s display case and walked away, I picked up the book and noticed the following inscription on the inside cover: M.L. Brown, Co D, 6th Regt Md. V.I. Now I am really curious! Company D, 6th Regiment, of the Maryland Volunteer Infantry consisted of a group of 112 young Frederick County men, including those from the Hauvers and Mechanicstown Districts (Foxville, Wolfsville, Sabillasville, and Thurmont), who fought in the Union Army during the Civil War. (Ref. History and Roster of Maryland Volunteers – War of 1861-1865.) My great-grandfather Josiah Edward Wilhide (1844-1915) was a member of Company D. In addition to being wounded in battle at Winchester, Virginia, he was captured and held as a prisoner at Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia.
While I examined the small 1863 Bible, the dealer further explained that his research confirmed the existence of a soldier in Company D named “M. L. Brown” from the Foxville area. He had acquired the book online, which had ended up in Indiana. Could this well-worn Bible, most likely carried by this soldier during the Civil War, have belonged to a relative of my brother-in-law, Ed Hatter? Ed’s mother and John Brown (Brown’s Jewelry & Gift Shop in Thurmont) are both descendants of the Brown family from the Foxville area. I had to get home and further research this with Ed.
Some things simply can’t be explained. After further research that evening, Ed confirmed with much excitement that the Bible belonged to his great-grandfather, Martin Luther Brown (1836-1898), who had, in fact, served in Company D and was wounded in battle at Cold Harbor, Virginia. Two days after the York Antique Bottle Show, which coincidentally turned out to be Veterans Day, Ed was able to acquire the Bible. The incredible luck of standing in the right place at the right time at a small antique bottle show resulted in a local Civil War soldier’s Bible being returned to his family for safe-keeping—over one hundred years later. What are the odds?