May 25, 2018
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Frame shop has preserved 146-year-old war document

By Brian Swartz, Of the Weekly Staff

HAMPDEN — When Ken Preble discovered an unusual memoir about his great-grandfather’s Civil War records, he turned to School Street Picture Framing in Brewer to preserve the document.

Now 80, Ken is three generations removed from the Civil War via his father, Erral Preble; grandfather, Wilbur Preble; and great-grandfather, Charles Preble (whose surname was frequently spelled “Prebble” or “Pribble” from 1861 to 1865.

Charles Melvin Preble, then 21, joined Co. B, 11th Maine Infantry Regiment, at Bangor on Aug. 26, 1862. Although wounded in Virginia three years later, he survived the war, mustered out of military service in mid-July 1865, and returned to Maine.

He had married Sarah Mitchell before leaving for war; settling on the Pomroy Road in Carmel, the Prebles had seven children.

In July 1868, Maine Gov. Joshua L. Chamberlain sent Preble an official “testimonial” thanking him for his military service. Dated July 4, the document recognized Preble for his “honorable part as a Volunteer from the State of Maine” who had participated “in suppressing the Rebellion and thereby maintaining the integrity of the Union, the perpetuity of Republican Institutions and the liberties and peace of the People.

“Now therefore I, Joshua L. Chamberlain, Governor and Commander in Chief by the authority of the Legislature[,] present toy this Testimonial to your patriotism, fidelity[,] courage[,] and suffering” during the war, the document indicated.

Bearing Chamberlain’s signature and that of Adjutant General John Caldwell, the testimonial bore images of Chamberlain, General Ulysses S. Grant, and Admiral David Farragut.

A 1951 graduate of Carmel High School and a soldier from 1953-1955. Ken Preble did not know that the document existed. In fact, “it was later in life” that he discovered a family connection with the Civil War; “the Prebles are real close-mouthed,” Ken said.

“My aunts got all the information” about Charles Preble, “and I inherited it from them” after their deaths, Ken Preble said.

Among Charles Preble’s documents was the neatly folded testimonial. Unsure as to the document’s value, Ken took it to School Street Picture Framing last fall. Father-and-son owners Ed and Adam Armstrong matted the testimonial and framed it behind glass that protects the 146-year-old paper from ultraviolet light.

Ken has proudly mounted the preserved testimonial in the home that he shares with Sandra, his wife of 58 years. They have four children, four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

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