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From eBay Back to Longmeadow: An Image of Elias Coomes

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

Elias Coomes, in Militia Coat Recently Acquired by Longmeadow Historical Society

Every once in a while, we add a new item to our collection at the Longmeadow Historical Society. This week the History Notes team asked our Board President, Al McKee, to share information about how and why we came to own our newest acquisition: a rare image of Elias Coomes of Longmeadow (1806-1851).

1. How did you come to discover this Elias Coomes image? I monitor several auction sites - both conventional auctions as well as eBay - for any items that may come up that may help the Longmeadow Historical Society better tell local history stories. This one came up on eBay. I spied the image on eBay of a man in militia uniform identified as Longmeadow resident Elias Coomes. The image of Elias Coomes is a photograph from an early Springfield photography studio of an earlier image (daguerreotype).

2. Why did this strike you as something that may be of value to add to the Longmeadow Historical Society collection?

Recently, while preparing for a presentation on the history of Longmeadow residents' involvement in military conflicts, we found that we needed to learn more about the militia. The Militia Act of 1792 provided federal standards for the organization of the militia. This act specified that every free, able-bodied, white male citizen aged eighteen years and under the age of forty-five years shall be enrolled in the militia. The historical society has several militia uniforms and so we went off to the Storrs House Museum to reexamine these items, learn how they had come to the historical society, and try to learn as much as we could about our objects. We identified three uniform coats.

Militia variant of the 1808 uniform adopted by the U.S. Army; c.1810-1820

Collection of the Longmeadow Historical Society

Militia coat c. 1850s Collection of the Longmeadow Historical Society

Militia Coat c. 1830-1840

Collection of the Longmeadow Historical Society

Expert evaluation indicates that the blue coat with flat buttons is a militia variant of the 1808 uniform adopted by the U.S. Army; dated roughly 1810-1820. The red coat with the militia buttons and epaulettes appears to be from the 1850s. The red coat with the ball buttons appears to date to the 1830-1840 period.

3. What is the process for making a decision about purchasing an item?

The Longmeadow Historical Society has collections policies that guide acquisitions and deaccessions of collection objects. When an item of potential interest becomes available for sale or is offered as a gift to the Longmeadow Historical Society, members of our collections committee review the object. We must decide whether it would contribute to our collection, and how it can be used to further our mission to preserve our Town's history and inspire public awareness of the people, places, and events tha