Pre-Civil War Sword Unearthed


A lack of parking. That is one of the consistent complaints about the River Market district.

As the area continues to grow and improve, the demand for parking grows. Meeting that demand has led to an interesting discovery.

Tuesday morning we decided to look into an email from a viewer who claims he watched a construction crew unearth an item he suspects was from the Civil War.

The 7th grade quiz bowl team from eStem was enjoying some pizza Tuesday morning at Iriana's.

Out the window construction crews are digging down...preparing to build that parking deck.

On this day a crew member finds a soda bottle from the early 1900's.

But it was what another Iriana's customer saw pulled from the earth last month that is truly fascinating.

"It's a great blade," says Swannee Bennett. Bennett serves as Deputy Director and Chief Curator for Historic Arkansas Museum. "'s very early. It predates the Civil War. And could very well be from Arkansas' territorial period. We're really excited about it.

The site was once occupied by one of the largest homes in Arkansas, a home that served as a base for Union soldiers in 1863.

It belonged to Chester Ashley.

Before his death in 1848 Ashley was a U.S. senator, one of our state's wealthiest men, co-founder of the Rose law firm and namesake of Ashley county.

Tuesday afternoon a member of the construction crew donated the sword to the Historic Arkansas Museum.

Despite spending nearly 200 years underground Bennett says it is still a fine piece.

"It's rare to find an excavated blade like tact, from tip....from Pommel cap to sword tip," says Bennett. "It's very rare to find one like that. At least in Arkansas. We've not found many."

Bennett says if funding can be found the sword will undergo a lengthy restoration and be displayed one day.

Air date: January 14th, 2014