On Tuesday, July 24th, at 8:00 pm a new episode of the popular PBS series History Detectives will feature a segment filmed in Kentucky. The segment was filmed at the Kentucky Historical Society (KHS) located in Frankfort and it highlights two Civil War-era Deringer pistols that were traced to the Bluegrass State.
History Detectives is a program that uncovers historical mysteries by discovering the past of certain personal items. The series’ hosts are appraisers, auctioneers and historical professors who often seek further assistance in uncovering complex mysteries from other specific experts. The hosts’ expertise is very wide ranging and, as the series’ website indicates, it “ranges from architecture, popular culture and sociology to archeology, collectibles and genealogy.”
In 2011, two Civil War-era Deringer pistols were brought to the PBS series Antiques Roadshow's Pittsburg filming by a woman named Dulcie. Dulcie believed that the pistols that her father purchased 30 years prior were from the Civil War era and she wanted to know the estimated value. The show’s arms expert, Christopher Mitchell, confirmed that the guns were made up to 20 years before the beginning of the Civil War and the estimated value was about $30,000. However, Dulcie wanted to know more.
Several clues on the guns captured the interest of the History Detectives team and they decided to take over and try to solve the mystery. The barrels of the pistols had “Louisville, Kentucky” stamped on them which proves that they were sold by merchants in Louisville. The guns also had “Owensboro, Kentucky” and the name “John P. Thompson” engraved on them.
During the episode, the History Detectives host Wes Cowan visits KHS and speaks with research associate Tony Curtis. Coincidentally, Cowan happens to be a Louisville native himself and is now the president of Cowan’s Auctions Inc., which is located in Cincinnati. Who would have thought it would be a pair of pistols that would bring him home?
If you miss the episode on Tuesday night, you will be able to watch it via your computer starting on the 25th here.
Photo: courtesy of PBS