The story’s got a happy ending.
About three weeks ago, the Pocono Record wrote about Paul Mastronardi, a Brodheadsville pawn broker who had acquired several items that once belonged to a Civil War soldier.
Mastronardi was going to sell the memorabilia — discharge papers, a cap and a medal — but then researched the memorabilia and discovered that a descendant of this soldier was passionate about his family’s involvement in the Civil War.
Mastronardi wanted to return the items, worth about $2,000, for free but couldn’t find the relative.
The descendant, Bruce Wehrle, of Lexington, N.C., wound up reading the Pocono Record story online, which was picked up and distributed nationally by The Associated Press.
The two men now expect to meet for Mastronardi to return the items.
“I just think it’s so cool that we were able to find each other,” Mastronardi said.
Wehrle said he had no idea that items belonging to his relative, Albert Clewell, who was a member of the Union Army’s 153rd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, even existed.
Wehrle said a friend had initially read the Pocono Record story and alerted him.
“He called me up and said, ‘This is going to knock your socks off,’” said Wehrle, 62.
Members of the 153rd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment were all volunteers and were recruited out of Northampton County. The soldiers fought at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, two crucial battles in the Civil War.
Mastronardi thinks that the person who initially sold him Clewell’s items may also be related to Clewell and may even be related to Wehrle.
Regardless, Wehrle said he is excited that he may soon get these historical items.
He plans to show them to several of his friends who are also Civil War buffs. Wehrle said after that, he’ll probably try to get them on display at a local museum in Lexington, N.C. In the end, though, he thinks he’s going to donate the items to a historical society in Northampton County.
Wehrle says he’s thankful for Mastronardi’s generosity and hopes to return the favor when the two meet in June in Gettysburg.
In exchange for the memorabilia, Wehrle will give Mastronardi and his son a comprehensive tour of the Gettysburg battlefield and the specific areas where Albert Clewell likely once fought.
“I’m just stunned that there are still people out there like (Mastronardi),” Wehrle said. “I’m really grateful.”