Not every discovery that is found in a dusty dilapidated barn is worth millions of dollars. Sometimes though you cannot put a price on what is discovered and while a picture may be worth a thousand words sometimes it is priceless.
Antonio and Karen Peters of Ellijay, Georgia were tasked with tearing down an old, dilapidated barn near Dalton. The owner wanted to get rid of the barn and said Antonio could use the reclaimed wood to build birdhouses and furniture, a win-win for both families. They could also keep anything that was found in the barn. While cleaning out the barn the couple found a framed photo showing several older men standing in front of a building. Antonio wanted to just throw it away but Karen talked him out of it. She took it to a local flea market and found a local historian that identified the photo. That person contacted a Civil War expert who provided more information.
The photo was taken in 1909 in front of the Old Whitfield County Courthouse in Dalton. Posing for the photo was the Joseph E. Johnston Camp 34 of the United Confederate Veterans during a reunion. It seemed that the barn that the Peters’ tore down had belonged to the family of Adam Kreischer who had served in the 36th Georgia, which was raised in the Dalton area. The regiment saw service in Louisiana and Mississippi and Kreischer surrendered with his regiment when U.S. Grant captured Vicksburg, Mississippi in July 1863. After being exchanged he and his comrades saw further action outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee in November 1863, the Atlanta Campaign in 1864, Nashville, Tennessee in December 1864 and Bentonville, North Carolina in March 1865. He surrendered with his regiment at Durham Station that April and was paroled again. He served with many of the other men in the photograph while some others had served under Robert E. Lee in Virginia. One can imagine the stories that were told and retold. It is not known for sure but probable that Kreischer is in the photo.
The tattered flag shown in the photo was probably made in Atlanta by order of Johnston just before the Atlanta Campaign began and was with the regiment while they were stationed in their home town during the winter of 1863-64. When the regiment surrendered an officer hid the flag under his jacket and at a reunion in 1887 returned it to the regiment’s color bearer, B.K. Hix. Hix’s grandson donated the flag to the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society in 1995.
Kreischer lived until 1914 and his farm was kept in the family for a time. The barn was believed to have been built in the 1920s and contained other antique items like tools, signs and bottles. There was also even an old X-Wing toy from the 1977 Star Wars movie in near mint condition. But it was the photo that stood out. The state archives had a copy of the photo but it had a modification as Johnston’s face was superimposed on it. The newly refound photo was donated to the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society in Dalton.