Friday, January 30, 2009

Md. Man Nearly Tosses 140-Year Old Lincoln Signature

The following was taken from the Fox Network's "Fox 5" web site in Washington, DC:

KEEDYSVILLE, Md. - How many times have you cleaned out your home and thrown things away before looking at them?

One Frederick County man nearly threw out a 140-year-old signature of Abraham Lincoln that he didn't know he had. It was just pure luck, though, that his piece of history didn't become history.

Charles Collins was cleaning out his mother's basement when he came across what looked like a rolled-up tube.

"I said knowing my mom and dad, you never know what could be inside this thing, so I decided I was going to check it out," Collins told FOX 5's Tom Fitzgerald.

Charles was holding a piece of family history.

"So I unrolled it and it's my great-great grandfather's civil war discharge," he said.

But it was not just any discharge. On closer inspection, Charles realized it was signed by Abraham Lincoln himself.

"And I pulled it down even further and I saw Lincoln's signature on the bottom, and I'm like, oh my gosh!" he described. "I'm holding a 140-year-old document in my dirty sweaty hands!"

The discharge was issued to Charles' great-great grandfather, Private James Nolan, who served in the union army.

"His unit of the Ohio cavalry, from the readings I have seen, escorted Grant to the surrender of Lee at Appomattox," Charles said.

Of course, to Charles the document is priceless, but everything does have a price. The last time a document like this was up for auction in 2003, it went for $4,000. The experts here say now this document could go for up to four times that amount.

After being rolled up for 140 years, Charles took the discharge to the Museum Store in Frederick to have it restored. Owner Vicki Corman says it was dangerously close to falling apart.

"Where it had been folded in the past, those areas were starting to tear, so we had to mend the tears on the folds," said Corman.

Now preserved, Charles says this hand-signed Lincoln document is a link to his ancestor that he can now share with future generations.

"It's something that I can pass along to my children," said Charles

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