Every case file is a story
October 4, 2017 11:20 AM   Subscribe

In late 2005, an Archives staff member was pulling a file from the Civil War Widows Certificate Approved Pension Case Files for a researcher. The file seemed unusually bulky, so he opened it. Inside the folder, tucked between sheets of a letter was one of the most unusual items found in the records of the National Archives: the preserved skin of a mole.
posted by Cash4Lead (10 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Back in the day, sending mole skins to loved ones was the thing to do, like wearing an onion on your belt.
posted by Atreides at 11:54 AM on October 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

Mole skin is nice, and I have one myself; it's so soft and velvety. I'd hoped to acquire more but moved on past that part of my life. Maybe it's a little odd to find one in an archive, but I can imagine including mine in a letter to someone.
posted by anadem at 11:55 AM on October 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Bah! If he'd really loved her he would have sent her a pony!
posted by WalkerWestridge at 1:17 PM on October 4, 2017

It's a tiny Turin Shroud
posted by scruss at 1:21 PM on October 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

That's amazing.
posted by corb at 1:30 PM on October 4, 2017

Back in the day, sending mole skins to loved ones was the thing to do, like wearing an onion on your belt.

*Ashokan Farewell plays*

My Dearest Sarah,

It must by now be Fall where you are, and the leaves starting to turn. It is still quite warm here, and I long for the cool nights and gentle days of our home in Illinois. Kiss my darlings Temperance, Susan, and little Johnny for me, and tell them that their papa misses them most painfully.

I received your last letter, and treasure it greatly, for it tells me that, in some small part of this sad country torn apart in a war of brother against brother, love still remains. Forgive me for not sending my reply sooner, but the fighting at Chattanooga and Chickamauga has of late been especially hard. The Rebels, who we had formerly put to flight, have now halted, and defend their positions with a renewed resilience which we had not anticipated. I fear that this may be the end of Gen. Rosecrans' efforts in Tennessee and Georgia.

I do not know how a war fought with such furiosity and hatred can possibly continue, but I see no end to it, save but for every man in it be killed. Know however, that though my body is here among these terrible fields of death, my heart remains with you in Springfield.

Anyway, I have sent you the skin of a mole which I killed. Please pin it to your dress to remember me by.

I Remain Your Most Obedient Servant,

Capt. Samuel Shadrach Robertson
92nd Illinois Mounted Infantry


"Capt. Robertson was killed three days later at the Battle of Creek Full of Bodies Creek. His wife Sarah would wear a moleskin on her dress for the remainder of the war."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:45 PM on October 4, 2017 [13 favorites]

As was the style of the time!
posted by lubujackson at 1:48 PM on October 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have no idea how these people got their moles wedged into their files, or why.
posted by klarck at 4:29 PM on October 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

It's because his boots didn't fit right. Everyone knows you use moleskin to prevent blisters.
posted by hippybear at 8:13 PM on October 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Moles are amazing creatures, suitable for pets or meat, providers of useful moleskin, and, of course, molasses.
posted by Floydd at 3:11 PM on October 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

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