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Celebration, Rifle Exhibit Highlight Boalsburg Heritage Museum Events

by on May 28, 2012 6:00 AM

To celebrate Boalsburg's role as the birthplace of Memorial Day, the Boalsburg Heritage Museum will offer children's musical performances by Dan and Galla, freshly baked pretzels from the Beehive Oven, and two exhibits, “Three Ladies and the Birth of a Tradition,” and “A Long Rifle Exhibition” by local gunsmith Philip Sauerlender.

The museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Memorial Day.

Both exhibits continue the museum's commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, according to BHM Exhibits Committee chair Susan Evans.

The “Three Ladies and the Birth of a Tradition” exhibit, curated by BHM Acquisitions Committee chair Barbara Grignano, offers new insights into the lives and families of the three Boalsburg women who founded Memorial Day in October 1864: Sophie Keller, Elizabeth Myers and Emma Hunter. The exhibit is based on the past year's research by Evans, Nancy Taylor, Cathy Horner and Bob Hazelton. Evans hopes to publish their findings in a book.

“A Long Rifle Exhibition: Military and Civilian Muzzle Loading Rifles of the 19th Century” showcases  historic rifles and two modern reproductions made by Sauerlender.

“I was just so impressed when he sent me photos of the details of his work,” said Evans. “He is a true craftsman.”

On display are two historic military guns, a historic civilian gun and two beautifully crafted reproductions by State College native Sauerlender, an award-winning artist, and member of the Central PA Civil War Round Table, the Company of Military Historians and the Society of the Military Horse.

The 19th century guns include an 1864 Springfield Percussion Rifled Musket, the standard Civil War Infantry weapon; a Harpers Ferry 1842 smooth bore percussion Army musket converted into a shotgun; and a civilian 19th century fowling piece for small game made by James Roop of Roopsburg, near Bellefonte.

One of Sauerlender's reproduction guns is a Centre County style Minister's flintlock rifle based on the Roop shotgun. He said the Centre County style was fairly simple, with a curly maple stock, a three piece brass patch box on the butt of the stock, no carving, and a “Roman nose” curve to the stock. The original Pennsylvania long rifles from Reading and Lancaster had extensive Germanic carvings and engravings.

Sauerlender said he made the stock of his reproduction gun thicker to prevent the cracks that formed in the Roop gun stock, and added traditional Pennsylvania Dutch Lutheran symbols, including a star of David, a tulip, and Martin Luther's seal. The gun was a gift for his brother, Rev. Richard Sauerlender, two years ago on his 60th birthday.

The second Sauerlender gun is a reproduction of a Jagdgewehn, a Civil War era Pennsylvania German percussion hunting rifle for hunting large animals. The gun is displayed disassembled, with the barrel detached, in a wooden storage case he made.

He said his guns aren't exact copies. “I'm in the tradition,” he said.

“I have been shooting and working with black powder muzzle-loading rifles and guns for some 30 years,” Sauerlender said.

He restored many old guns, and in 2006, completed his first reproduction, a PA German Schuetzen (target shooting) rifle.

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.
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