Text & Photograph | Erin Vanderberg
With the bicentennial commemoration of the American Civil War upon us, a visit to the Pike County Historical Society’s (PCHS) collection at the Columns museum in Milford is a timely outing. Among its collection of area artifacts, the museum features a Civil War room with a wide range of everyday objects from that era, and a Lincoln room which is home to one very historic 36-star flag.
The “Lincoln Flag,” as it is called today, is famous for its tragic stain. Taken from Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865, by part-time stage manager Thomas Gourlay, the flag (one of five) was pulled from the balustrades of the presidential box and used to comfort President Abraham Lincoln after he was shot by John Wilkes Booth. Gourlay’s daughter married a Milford man and brought her inheritance with her in 1888, to their home along Sawkill Creek. Her son, V. Paul Struthers, donated the artifact to the PCHS in 1954.
Also in the museum’s collection are: the noose and other artifacts related to Milford’s only public hanging; a collection of taxidermied bird specimens killed and stuffed by John Bell of Matamoras and used by John Audubon for his famous sketches; a Sioux wampum belonging to a boyhood visitor of Pike County, Father Francis Craft, for his service as a liaison during the Battle of Wounded Knee; and a collection of mourning attire, including that of Juliette Peirce, widow of philosopher Charles Saunders Peirce, who is said to haunt the second floor hallway of the Columns.
For architectural enthusiasts, the best part of the visit will be the museum itself. Originally built by architect Charles Fall of Jersey City, NJ, as a summer home for Dennis McLaughlin of Hoboken, the neo-classical-style mansion has 22 rooms and 11 bedrooms.
Pike County Historical Society at The Columns
608 Broad Street • Milford, Pennsylvania,
Year-round: 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesdays and weekends
July and August: 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday
$5 adults, $3 students, free for children under 10