Sentimental Sunday: Family Artifacts From the Moon???

Civil War Drum of Abram F. Springsteen.
Civil War Drum of Abram F. Springsteen.

No, we sadly don’t have any family artifacts from the moon, but Neil Armstrong’s family does. See the article here about the treasures his widow found stashed in a closet. (See also the Buzz Aldrin video- he is a national hero, now in more ways than one.)

Our more mundane family treasures may not have been to the moon, but they have been other places, perhaps a Civil War battlefield or used daily by our ancestors, which makes them priceless to us.

Above is the actual Civil War drum that belonged to Abram F. Springsteen (1850-1930), one of the youngest drummer boys in the Civil War. Our family, of course, told the story that he was THE youngest in the Civil War at age 12 on enlistment, but there were probably others who were that young as well. Mary Theresa Helbling McMurray, the granddaughter of Abram’s sister Anna Missouri Springsteen Beerbower (1854-1859), remembered going to Indianapolis, Indiana on the train for her grandmother’s funeral, and seeing his portrait in the museum. For many years we wondered what happened to his drum.

Thanks to the internet and, we finally learned what happened. We got in touch with descendants of Abram’s son, Perry Harrison Springston (note change in spelling of surname), and they had the drum in their home! The drum had been passed on to the oldest son of each of the next generations.

The passing of the Abram F. Springsteen Drum.
The passing of the Abram F. Springsteen Drum from oldest son of a generation to oldest son of the next generation. (Click to enlarge.)

Sadly, this drum is not the one that Abram used throughout the war to give battle commands to the troops and spur them on through marching and fighting, as that was captured by the Confederates along with Abram. He did escape near the end of the war, but without his drum. It was replaced by his comrades, and throughout his life, Abram used that drum in Civil War Veteran parades. He would also walk along the boardwalk in Indianapolis, beating his drum on the anniversary of his enlistment. He was a lifelong activist in Veteran Affairs, and worked for the federal government’s War Department.


We were ‘over the moon’ (pun intended) to find the disposition of the drum, and more importantly, the cousins we had not known about! So even if your family treasures are not the Data Acquisition Camera that filmed the landing on Tranquility Base or the Waste Management Cover of the Eagle Lunar Module, they are worth documenting and preserving properly.


➡ Springsteen Family, Helbling Family


Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) Secret stash of moon artifacts found hidden in Neil Armstrong’s closet:

2) Family photos of the Springsteen drum kindly shared by cousins and posted with permission without names.


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