Its Own History and Genealogical Information
Norma Knotts Shaffer
Considered by some to be obsessed and by others eccentric, history and genealogy buffs are, above all else, noted for their love of tramping through old cemeteries and "pack ratting" away a varied assortment of seemingly useless trash. Spouses and family members learn early on that those stacks of papers and junk are off limits and adapt to life amidst the clutter and chaos.
Last night's business meeting of the Calhoun Historical Society was followed by an entertaining session of examining a bag full of trash. "Best meeting we've had in ages," was remarked by several of those present as we gleefully examined the bag's contents.
The story of how the trash came to the Society is a story in and of itself. A number of years ago Maxine Burrows (now deceased), wife of James L. Burrows of Pleasant Hill, was on her way to check the status of her favorite hickory tree to see if the nuts had fallen. On her way, she happened across a pile of burning trash which appeared to consist of old papers, letters, ledgers, etc. Curious about the contents she used a stick to pull some of the papers off the fire and after examination realized that the papers were very old. She hurried home to tell her husband of her find, whereupon he grabbed a cardboard box and hurried back to the fire to see if anything was left to salvage. He managed to retrieve approximately one half a large paper grocery bag of papers which he has kept for several years. A few months ago, he brought the bag to me and asked if the Society would have any interest in the contents.
Last night's meeting was the first opportunity the Society had to examine the papers and they truly contain a wealth of information. Documents and papers dating back as early as 1844 are included. By far the greatest prize are three "sheepskin deeds" two dated 1844 when James McDowell was governor of Virginia (West Virginia was not a state until 1863) and one dated 1847 when William Smith was governor and all recorded in Richmond. Several other old deeds were found, one of which may be the tract upon which the new High School/Middle School is built. One letter, dated March 9, 1893, was of particular interest. Truly a great find for the Society and we had a marvelous time examining the papers. Further examination of the papers will follow the business session of next month's meeting of the Society. As always, the public is invited to attend and participate.
And now the rest of the story - the March 9, 1893 letter. The letter was written by Almeda Jeffers, maiden name Myers, and although there is no envelope present she indicates her place of residence to be Soldier, Idaho. Written to Mr. R.G. Linn (law partner and brother-in-law of John M. Hamilton) at Glenville, she provides genealogical information of interest to researchers for some of the very old families in Calhoun County. Of particular interest to Civil War historians interested in Daniel Duskey of Moccasin Ranger fame are the names of the parents of Daniel's wife, Martha (Patsy), as well as her siblings and who they married. A quick look at the 1850 Census for Gilmer County shows most of the families mentioned as having been enumerated by the census taker on September 10, 1850, bringing one to the conclusion that they lived in close proximity to each other. Surnames in the letter include: Myers, Sharp, Collons (Collins), Holbert, Rogers, Jeffers, Wilsan.
Although they may take quite a long time to load, here are the scanned images of the letter. We think you will find it well worth the extra wait. - Norma Knotts Shaffer