published Monday, January 12th, 2009

Unsigned trophies spark search for clues about winners


by Beverly Carroll
Audio clip

Chris McKeever

Signal Mountain, Tenn., resident Jennie Rogers said when she and her husband decided to buy the house next door, contents and all, for their daughter and her family, she expected to find antiques.

But she was delighted and surprised to find pieces of local Georgia history tucked away in the garage attic. Three silver urns were easily identifiable as awards from horse competitions from the old polo grounds at the former Army post in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.

“I thought they were fascinating and when I saw an article in a local magazine about the 6th Cavalry Museum, I connected everything together,” Mrs. Rogers said. “I think they would add a lot to the museum. I was thinking that other people may have trophies stored in closets that may come forward.”

The trophies are engraved with the names and dates of the annual competitions on the polo field on Barnhardt Circle. One was the first-place prize in the five-gaited saddle horse category of the 1928 horse show. The others are second-place prizes in the plantation class of the 6th Cavalry Horse Show in 1927, for the plantation class. Plantation refers to the gait, a running walk seen in Tennessee walking horses.

The custom was to engrave the name of the winner on the trophies after they were awarded, but the owner of Mrs. Rogers’ trophies apparently never followed through.

There are several similar trophies in the 6th Cavalry Museum, located on the polo field, museum director Chris McKeever said. The museum recovered the Garnett Andrews Cup, which was awarded annually to the best of the Ladies of the 6th Cavalry. The winners’ names were engraved on the cup, which was passed around to the new winners each year, Ms. McKeever said.

The museum’s display has some news clippings and copies of old programs from the horse shows.

The memorabilia gives visitors a glimpse into the social life of the soldiers and their families who lived on the Army post from 1902 to 1949, she said. The director said her preliminary research has yet to unearth the names of the trophies’ owners. But the tarnished, silver cups still help create a picture of days past.

“In between the two world wars, this was the center of the social activities,” Ms. McKeever said. “They played polo, held fox hunts and the annual horse shows. It’s a look back at what life was like for these people.”

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