West Overton seeks funds to authenticate documents
Documents from as early as the 1700s that have surfaced at West Overton Village & Museums bear signatures of some of the nation's top historical figures, like President Abraham Lincoln and his secretary of state, William H. Seward; Benjamin Franklin; Albert Gallatin; and President James Monroe.
“Every day is find day,” said Jessica Kadie-Barclay, the museum's managing director.
Though the discovery of the treasures would excite any historian, the museum will need to find the funds to authenticate and preserve the documents, she said.
The documents will be sent — probably hand-carried — to the Conservation Center for Arts and Historic Artifacts in Philadelphia. The cost to have each authenticated is approximately $150, Kadie-Barclay said. The treatment to restore and preserve them is estimated to cost $1,000 or more per item.
“And we don't have anybody to cover the cost,” Kadie-Barclay said.
The documents include:
• A letter from Gallatin from Paris written on March 14, 1823, to a J.D. Garefche, Esq., consul and acting counsel to the United States of America.
• Two land grants made in 1787 by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and signed by Benjamin Franklin, probably for men who fought in the Revolutionary War.
• A land grant signed by President James Monroe, dated Aug. 16, 1824.
• A document signed by President James Polk and his secretary of state, James Buchanan, that appears to appoint a man, possibly Robert Flenniken of Uniontown and Greene County, to a post in Denmark.
• A document appointing James A. Springer as assistant postmaster to Uniontown, dated July 16, 1861 and signed by Lincoln and Seward.
Kadie-Barclay said the museum staff's research indicates that Springer served in the post for only a year before resigning to fight in the Union army.
The items also will be graded for condition.
Some of the documents were hidden in the building. Fortunately, many were stored by past directors in metal drawers in a climate-controlled area of the main museum building. Most were laid flat; some were protected by plastic sleeves.
The staff is still finding documents, Kadie-Barclay said.
One issue with preserving the documents — most were written in the 1700s and 1800s — is the type of inks that were used. Ink was not made commercially at that time. The variations in the formulas made it more likely the inks would fade or change color over time.
The staff found that the embellished handwriting of the period is difficult to read, Kadie-Barclay said, and the style and spellings vary by author.
Karl Polacek is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-626-3538.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Aaron’s building review planned
- Connellsville, Mt. Pleasant fireworks postponed until Sunday
- ‘Brothers’ share fathers’ legacies
- Post-war welcome still stings
- Boy, 5, in stable condition after fall from window in Fayette County
- Investigation into dropped baby at Uniontown Hospital continues
- Funeral planned for Connellsville teen who died in crash
- Connellsville fireworks display back to riverbank
- Uniontown natives’ charity honors friend wounded in Afghanistan
- Pam Porterfield: Church events, family reunions, benefits abound in Fayette County
- Post-war welcome still stings