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Piece Of Local History On Display In Philly

February 10, 2019
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Piece Of Local History On Display In Philly

One of Luzerne County’s oldest and most cherished artifacts is now on display in one of the newest museums about the American Revolution in Philadelphia.

The hand-crafted powder horn — used as a gunpowder container — was found on the body of a Continental Army soldier killed locally during the Battle of Wyoming in July 1778.

What’s unique about this horn is it belonged to Gershom Prince, a free African-American who was fighting for America’s independence. He was the lone black soldier to die in that battle, often called the Wyoming Massacre due to the large number of casualties of American patriots.

The artifact is the only known surviving powder horn from a slain African-American Revolutionary War soldier.

Prince’s family passed it down from generation to generation until the 1950s, when it was donated to the Luzerne County Historical Society. The society agreed to lend it to the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia for the rest of 2019.

“It’s definitely one of our top objects,” said Aimee Newell, executive director of the Luzerne County Historical Society.

Philip Mead, director of the Philadelphia museum, which opened in April 2017 on the anniversary of the first battle of the war, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the horn is “impossibly rare” and an “invaluable national treasure.”

Carved into the horn is Prince’s name and various drawings, such as flowers, birds, a boat and houses. The work shows Prince’s “artistic sensibility,” Mead told the Inquirer.

Denise Dennis, a descendent of Prince from Susquehanna County, visited the museum last week prior to the horn going on display.

“It’s part of my personal history and speaks to the closeness and intimacy of family,” she told the Inquirer.

Newell thinks it’s fitting that the horn is making its debut in February, which is Black History Month.

“It’s exciting for us to be able to share our local history with a much bigger audience. It’s exciting it’s getting some attention,” Newell said.

Newell said the horn has been displayed locally several times and they are planning to showcase it again next year after its run in Philadelphia.

“We were talking today, we are going to have to have a homecoming for it,” Newell said.

Contact the writer:

bkalinowski@citizensvoice.com

570-821-2055; @cvbobkal

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