LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Crews doing excavation work in downtown Little Rock made an unusual find this week: a military sword possibly dating to the early 1800s.
Workers are excavating for the construction of a new parking deck at a site that once housed the Ashley mansion, built around 1820 by the prominent lawyer and U.S. Sen. Chester Ashley.
Clark Construction representatives turned over the sword to the Historic Arkansas Museum on Tuesday. Museum chief curator Swannee Bennett said the curved sword is likely of American or European origin.
"They were kind enough to bring it by and show it to us," Bennett told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1m8HCgu), adding that the soil-encrusted sword must undergo delicate testing to better determine its age. "We're a small community, and everybody sort of knows us.
"I was ecstatic to see it," he said. "It's remarkable that it survived all this time."
The Ashley mansion was originally built around 1820, then enlarged to two stories by 1840 with thick, brick columns in front.
Union forces occupied the Ashley house in the latter stages of the Civil War after taking control of Little Rock in September 1863, Bennett said.
"It's possible some Confederate or Union army personnel could have lost the (sword), or it could have belonged to Chester Ashley," Bennett said.
"Ashley was a mover and shaker and could have afforded a sword. . In fact, Arkansas territorial Gov. George Izard appointed Ashley to the rank of colonel in the (Arkansas territorial) militia," according to Bennett.
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com