Nothing makes the Civil War real quite like a bullet hole in a pocket Bible.
The small book belonged to Jacob Crist, a York County man who carried it into the Battle of Shiloh. Had the Bible not deflected the bullet away from his heart, Crist almost surely would have been mortally wounded.
Now belonging to the York County Heritage Trust, the Bible is just one of hundreds of artifacts that will go on public display this weekend. The 150th anniversary Civil War exhibit is called the Fiery Trial.
The exhibit aims to connect York County to the big-picture story of war, said Dan Roe, the trust's director of education.
Beginning in the 1820s, the artifacts and stories flow chronologically through three rooms of the York County Heritage Trust Historical Society Museum, 250 E. Market St.
Among the big draws is an interactive telegraph office that gives visitors a chance to experience one of the ways military officers and civilians communicated during the Civil War.
A key figure: Visitors will learn about William Goodridge, a black businessman who owned a general store on Center Square in York.
Born into slavery, Goodridge benefited from an abolition law in Pennsylvania and became an apprentice to a barber. He eventually owned 18 properties in York City, and his sons opened a photo studio in town, Roe said.
Goodridge is perhaps best known for helping slaves escape along the Underground Railroad.
The Crispus Attucks Community Association is working to open a museum at Goodridge's 123 E. Philadelphia St. home, known as the William C. Goodridge Freedom House.
The exhibit also features information about an 1842 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in which the court overturned the conviction of a slave catcher who abducted a former slave in York County.
The court upheld federal laws that prohibited free states from ignoring slave ownership claims, but it also opened the door for free states to craft anti-abduction legislation.
Roe said the controversy further divided the country over the issue of slavery, the state "right" that ultimately provoked the Civil War.
Other stories: The museum will display the impeccably preserved uniform of Capt. John Fahs, a York County man who served in the 87th Pennsylvania Infantry with other men from York and Adams counties. The Civil War was the last American conflict during which neighbors served alongside one another, Roe said.
Visitors will learn about Maj. Gen. William B. Franklin, a native Yorker who became a scapegoat for the Union loss at Fredericksburg, Roe said. On display will be Franklin's diary, Bible and picture of his wife.
The museum has a wooden gravestone, encased in glass, that once marked the battlefield grave of Charles Shetter, a York County man who died during the Battle of Antietam. Shetter was later laid to rest at Prospect Hill Cemetery in York, Roe said.
There's the story of Henry Clay Wiest, another Yorker who was wounded at Antietam but later died in York at the army hospital on the site of what is now Penn Park. The museum will display a voucher -- essentially Wiest's final paycheck -- that was sent to his family.
The exhibit includes a blown-up sketch drawn most likely during the Confederate occupation of York in June 1863.
The artist, Lewis Miller, drew many scenes of the Civil War -- some of which he did not witness. But Lewis, who lived in York, probably did see the Confederates lower the American flag in Center Square, as his drawing depicts.
"Basically, he kept a diary but drew pictures instead of writing," Roe said.
-- Erin James may also be reached at email@example.com.