| By Leslie Wagner, Historian |
The Dawes Arboretum Archives Building houses our artifacts not currently on display at the Daweswood House Museum or History Center. Vaults are located within the building that separates our different types of artifacts. Our historical paperwork and photographs are organized together, our library has all of our books shelved, and our 3-D artifacts are currently being organized and packed away. Special archival packing supplies, like acid-free boxes and polyester sleeves, have been purchased to safely protect and preserve our artifacts.
One of the tasks our department must complete is an inventory of our collection with updated locations. As items are relocated, it is important to keep accurate records or items could potentially be lost over time.
If you like being organized and looking at historical objects, you may want to become a volunteer for our archival projects. Volunteer updates will be sent when we need help with inventory, moving artifacts or doing conservation work.
One new addition to our collection is a painting of Ephraim Dawes, uncle to our founder Beman and Major in the Civil War. He served with the 53rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Ephraim received a minié ball to the jaw at the Battle of Dallas in 1864. He had successful reconstructive surgery but was left with noticeable scarring and disfiguration; he is usually pictured with a large beard to conceal his injury.
A painting of Ephraim Dawes, by artist Silas Jerome Uhl, was owned by The Ohio Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS). It hung in the Hotel Gibson in Cincinnati, where the Legion’s quarterly meetings were held. A letter was sent to Beman in 1935 asking if he wanted the painting, which he sent his oldest son to pick up. This painting has been seen at the Arboretum by family in the back of the History Center’s now demolished Quonset Hut. At some point, it left the grounds and was rediscovered by a Dawes descendant. Great granddaughter Cathy Hefner found the painting and offered it back to the Arboretum. One question…how do we get the painting here in one piece?
A small committee of staff and Trustees approve all potential donations to the History collection, and we met to discuss how to get the painting here. After a conference call, we decided to have our archivist Kevin drive down to Atlanta for pickup. After a two day trip, Ephraim Dawes is back in our collection with plans to hang it in Beman’s study in the Daweswood House Museum this coming year. Be sure to look for it!
Special thanks to Cathy Hefner for gifting this painting back to the Arboretum, and Jay Pattison, Chief Registrar at the Cincinnati Art Museum, for his shipping recommendations.