Man displays Civil War memorabilia at library
Display runs through end of February
The Lexington Park library now has a Civil War display available for those interested to come in, ask questions and check out books related to a prominent time in history.
Library manager Amy Ford said the display has been at the library now five times, and will be on display this time through Feb. 28.
“It’s when people stop in and take a look. There’s such a variety of St. Mary’s history that he has there,” Ford said. “Many of the books [on display] will be available through the library.”
Budds Creek resident Jonathan Beasley a history enthusiast who owns the items displayed, was influenced by his father, Hulon Beasley, and his mother, Orie “Penny” Beasley-Bell, whom he said walked three miles a day just to learn to speak English at school.
Beasley’s father passed away when he was young, and
his mother could never comment on the displays as she battled Alzheimer’s this past decade. The very close Beasley family laid her to rest just two months ago.
The love of history and its preservation has been passed down in his family, and his children and nephews all pitch in to assist with the display now, which Beasley said has now been taking across the country for a decade.
“It’s such a learning tool,” he said, adding that the idea all started when Grace Mary [Brady], who works at the North Beach museum in Calvert, borrowed one of his displays. Interest grew quickly, he said.
“I was amazed,” Beasley said.
The display just came from the Towson public library.
“It will be in Bel Air library in March, Frostburg public library May and June, Frederick library in July and August, Prince Frederick September and October and Ellicott City in November and December. It’s only home one month out of the year,” he said.
Beasley talks of racially tense times right now, but his love for history is his way to give back to his local community.
“I’m half Mexican because of my mother, who grew up in Colorado during the Depression,” Beasley said. “She entered the United States Army at age 14 and was a corps nurse in England and to this day, her sister, who’s five years older, took her birth certificate to get her out of the desert, and my aunt is still alive today.”
“Both of my parents taught me to appreciate history and taught me about community service,” he said.
On display are Maryland ammo boxes, belts, weapons, bottony crosses, excavated buckles and original photos of Leonardtown soldiers, among other items from both the North and the South.
Beasley has been on the St. Mary’s County Historical Society since 2001.
He is quick to mention that Leonardtown once had its own currency. On display is the “script” money of April 10, 1840. It was printed by Murphy and Company from Baltimore with 6¼-, 12½- and 25-cent notes. Banking crises of the 1830s affected mostly Southern and Western banks, and many Maryland towns issued their own local notes, he said.
One of Beasley’s favorite things to discuss is how Maryland got the nickname “The Old Line State.”
“It was written in blood,” Beasley stated. “It was 390 Marylanders who scarified themselves against the Hessians. Six times they turned and went right to the middle of the line, and nine made it back; nine out of 400. General Washington was crying, watching the sacrifice from the heights and gave us the name, Old Line State, Aug. 27, 1776, for holding the line of battle in Brooklyn,” New York, he said.
Beasley says he’s now looking forward to grandchildren one day.
“I have an 18-year-old and a 20-year-old, so no rush.” he said. “But my greatest joy is to sit by the display and listen to children talk about it and want to learn more and check out books pertaining to this time in history.”
A book not on display, but which would provide insight for the younger readers ages 6 to 8, is called, “Civil War on Sunday (Magic Tree House),” authored by Mary Pope Osborne, according to Ford.
Original photos of the soldiers who fought for Leonardtown and other Civil War artifacts owned by Jonathan Beasley of Budds Creek are on display at the Lexington Park library through Feb. 28.
One of the items on a display from Johnathan Beasley set up at the Lexington Park library is an ammo case from the Civil War.