Edmond Woman Discovers Civil War Documents

Monday, February 10th 2014, 9:13 pm
By: News 9, Robin Marsh

An Oklahoma woman has discovered a rare historical find in her home.

"I found something with some pretty writing on it," Julie Mathis said.

Mathis was cleaning out a box to use to move when she uncovered pieces of American history.

"Letters, stamps, writing utensils, locks," said Mathis. "It seemed to be almost a whole bit of history, a whole person's history just wrapped in twine."

Among the findings: a handwritten letter from 1866 with a colorful government seal and signed by several Pennsylvania lawmakers. The most puzzling items belonged to a Pennsylvania doctor during the middle of the Civil War. His obituary, marriage license, medical degree and a stack of letters addressed to his wife.

"It's like his whole life is right here," said Mathis. "Why am I supposed to know that?"

We wanted to help Julie unravel this mystery. We reached out to Cohasco Document Preservation Center in Yonkers, New York. They told us the greater the connection to the Civil War, the greater the value. They believe everyone named in the documents most likely had some role in the war. It's one signature, James R. Kelley, Speaker of the House of Representatives, that may have the greatest value. We learned before Kelley was a Pennsylvania Lawmaker, he was not only a Union soldier, but a prisoner of war.

The news surprised Mathis, "Oh my goodness! That's just amazing to find out somebody had such a powerful influence in a document that I'm holding in my hands."

The experts at Cohasco told us Julie's historic finds could be worth between $200 and $300. Julie plans to keep the treasures or try to find any descendants. How they got in her possession remains a mystery.