J. Peterson - This inkstand was allegedly used at Appomattox, Virginia on April 9, 1865, on the occasion of General Robert E. Lee's surrender to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant. According to an article published in the March 03, 1902 edition of The New York Times (Appomattox Inkstand), the inkstand was presented to Cecil A. Deane in 1874 by John L. Sheridan, brother of General Philip H. Sheridan, receiver of the land office in Fairplay, Colorado while Deane had a survey contract in that area. Deane was a Civil War veteran, a member of the Lincoln Chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic, and was hell-bent on assembling the most comprehensive collection of artifacts in the country from as many Civil War battlefields as possible. His collection was on display originally in the first Chamber of Commerce building. Originally owned by Union General Philip H. Sheridan, the inkstand came to Colorado with Philip’s brother John L. Sheridan. A clerk at the land office in Fairplay, John Sheridan met Cecil A. Deane, a state contract surveyor, and in 1874 Deane acquired the inkstand. In 1887, Deane wrote to General Sheridan to try and confirm that he owned it and that it was in fact used by Grant and Lee at the McLean House at Appomattox. General Sheridan confirmed that his inkstand was used at Appomattox and that he took his inkstand to his home at Somerset, Ohio just after the war. He would not however confirm that the inkstand Deane had was his, given he had never seen the one in Deane’s possession. It was Deane’s luck, however, that not long after this correspondence General Sheridan came to Denver for business related to Fort Logan. Deane, Sheridan, and another gentleman, George Ady, met to look at a large collection of war relics Deane had gathered for the Grand Army of the Republic from many of the principle battlefields of the war. That day, they also looked at the ink stand and Sheridan readily identified it as the one he first used as a cadet at West Point and later in his first active military duty in Texas in 1853. He told Deane that in 1857 while encamped near Fort Vancouver in Oregon, using a cracker box for a writing surface, he’d placed the inkstand too close to a candle causing the gutta-percha substance of which the object was manufactured to blister. This unique blemish enabled Sheridan to positively identify the inkstand as the one he carried in his pocket during his entire active military service, and the one that he placed on the table at the McLean house on the day when the articles of capitulation were written and signed by Grant and Lee. Years later, Deane wrote a letter about the meeting that was published in the Denver Republican on June 23, 1896. In the letter, he noted that General Sheridan had taken a great interest in the war relics, describing much about the artifacts of which Deane had previously known little. He also described Sheridan identifying the inkstand, returning it to him and commenting that the inkstand was his donation to the collection of war relics. In essence he was stating that Deane could keep the item which according to Sheridan was the most interesting of Deane’s War Relics Collection because it was used during “the closing scenes of the great rebellion.”
In 1897, Cecil A. Deane donated his entire War Relic Collection to the State of Colorado, including the inkstand.