Historic Civil War-era document

Historic Civil War-era document

restored, returned to Deutschheim

Ray Scherer

An important piece of Hermann's 19th century legacy, with ties to the swirling tides of the Civil War, has been returned to the Deutschheim State Historic Site.

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft visited Hermann Farm Museum last Thursday morning, to present an original copy of the state's 1865 Ordinance Abolishing Slavery to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The document had undergone special treatment in the Missouri State Archives' conservation lab in Jefferson City, and helps relate a stirring moment in the tapestry of Missouri history and the part played by German immigrants who lived in the Hermann area.

Ashcroft met with officials -- including Missouri State Parks Director Mike Sutherland and Deutschheim Historic Site Supervisor Katy Holmer -- on the front porch of the Teubner-Husmann House. He praised the all of the agencies for allowing the SOS to temporarily borrow the historic document for preservation.

"It's a great example of being able to work together," the secretary said of the collaboration among the agencies.

A copy of the ordinance was temporarily displayed on the porch for the program, while the original remained safely tucked in a box.

"It was an honor for our office to repair and conserve this piece of Missouri history ahead of the state's upcoming bicentennial," said Ashcroft. Missouri will observe its 200th birthday in various ceremonies scheduled statewide during 2021. "I think it's an awesome piece of history."

The ordinance was one of the first items considered during the 1865 Missouri Constitutional Convention in St. Louis. It was introduced and approved on Jan. 11, 1865. Only four of the convention's 64 attendees voted against approval, and renowned Hermann resident George Husmann was among the signatories. He served with the Union during the Civil War and, as a delegate to the convention, was instrumental in drafting the ordinance, which is said to be the first of its kind enacted in the nation.

The ordinance's approval came three months before Congress even proposed the 13th Amendment that would abolish slavery in the United States before the end of 1865.

Linda Walker Stevens also participated in the ceremony. She serves as a guide for Deutschheim, and was able to assist in project to have the ordinance donated to the site in 1993 -- based on her involvement in research into Husmann's role.

"It's amazing," she said of the document.

Sutherland and Holmer echoed the cooperation needed to ensure the ordinance's preservation. In all, an 11-person contingent from Deutschheim attended at the farm. Holmer said the ordinance is likely the most valuable item kept at Deutschheim.

"That's such a neat thing," said Sutherland of the process to conserve the ordinance. "The history is phenomenal."

Ashcroft said the document will be vital in imparting history lessons to successive Missouri generations.

Both the original and its copy will remain at Deutschheim. There is also a CD that will allow for further replications.

The ordinance was loaned by the DNR to the state archives in September for the treatment. Archive staff cleaned dirt from the surface, detached it from an acidic matting, and washed it in a series of alkaline baths to eliminate acid that had leached into the paper over time. The actions helped improve the document's appearance, and also increased its flexibility. The work established a buffer to neutralize future acid formation.

"All tears were then realigned and holes mended with Japanes tengujo tissue for added stability. Tengujo has become a common material used in archival paper conservation.

More information can be found on the Deutschheim Facebook page.