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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Yard sale item found to be John Robe Civil War papers

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A framed copy of Greencastle resident John Robe's Civil War discharge papers, signed by President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, was presented to the City of Greencastle this week. Local Washburn Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), member Jinsie Bingham (left) and Regent Sharon Baldwin (right) of Cloverdale presented the historic document to Mayor Sue Murray for display at City Hall.
Imagine finding a framed Civil War-era document featuring the signature of President Abraham Lincoln at a yard sale.

Someone in the Cloverdale area did just that a couple of years ago, and passed it on to the Washburn Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

When current Washburn Chapter Regent Sharon Baldwin began her DAR reign, she inherited cardboard boxes full of organization files that ended up in her garage. Among those boxes and all those files was the framed document with the signature of Lincoln and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton.

When Baldwin spotted it, she took it to Jinsie Bingham, who isn't only a Greencastle City Council member and former TV "Hoosier Know-It-All" champion, but a DAR member herself and one-time DAR state chairman for historic preservation.

"I'm so glad she brought it to me," Bingham said of Baldwin.

Bingham, however, wasn't nearly as captivated by the Lincoln signature (she is a Democrat after all) as she was the subject of the discharge papers.

"It was the discharge papers of John Robe, a fabulous benefactor for the City of Greencastle," Bingham told the City Council at its Tuesday night meeting.

The DAR presented the document, dated Dec. 15, 1864, to the City of Greencastle, not only because it was signed by President Lincoln, Bingham said, but "as our way to honor John Robe, who gave us Robe-Ann Park."

Baldwin, who resides in Cloverdale, understandably didn't know who John Robe was, Bingham said, so she had no idea of the importance of the document to the City of Greencastle.

Robe gave the city the land for Robe-Ann Park with the provision that the park be named as a memorial to his wife, Anna Gillespie Robe. The old story, Bingham shared, was that Robe suggested "Robe-Ann" instead of "Ann Robe Park" because he thought there might be other Ann Robes but certainly not a Robe Ann.

As a yard sale find, the original document was framed but the acid in the paper backing had begun eating through the historic certificate, Bingham noted.

She credited Lester Wilson of Wilson Photography with helping stop the deterioration of the document and create the copy that was presented to the City of Greencastle for display at City Hall.

The DAR still has the original document.

Robe was born in Martinsville in 1843 but moved to Putnam County in 1862, later graduating from Asbury College (now DePauw University) in 1868.

Toward the end of the Civil War, Robe enlisted in the 133rd Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry. He was honorably discharged from the Union forces after 100 days and returned to Putnam County in 1864.

It was in 1928 that Robe and his wife deeded the land between Bloomington, Tennessee and Wood streets to the city with the request that the site be used as a recreational area for children.

Robe died in 1937. His wife Anna, who was 17 years his junior, died in 1941.

But the park and his Civil War papers live on.

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wondering why the DAR would keep the original? After all, they are the Daughters of the American Revolution.

-- Posted by sassylass on Sat, Nov 17, 2012, at 9:59 AM

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