I have a large pile of old documents, letters and photographs we found in the old home and other old dilapidated buildings on the farm. I tucked them all away in a closet, not having the time to properly catalog or review them. Lately I’ve been slowly looking through them.

Here’s an example–a letter from a tobacco warehouser to my great-great grandfather.


I’ve been sharing photos of some of these artifacts on a local history Facebook page. It’s good to be able to share them. Some of the things I’ve shared include the local paper from June 1, 1935, announcing the release of George Weyerhauser:


A county tax bill/receipt from 1891:


Something from an interesting concoction called “Chelf’s C.C. Compound”


My great uncle’s report card from 1916:



An optimistic flyer from the Danville Chamber of Commerce in 1917:



Political buttons (I think I may have brought home one of these) (note: I don’t know why this photo is upside down and I can’t figure out how to fix it. It’s not upside down until it posts here):



A receipt from 1881:


A receipt from 1891. Note: Terms–cash. County Produce Taken in Exchange for Goods.


A hand-painted metal plate photograph (I’m not sure what it’s called) of my g-g grandfather Peyton Clay Keesee:


Two photographs of my great-grandmother Mattie Sue Slate:



My great-grandfather Frank Guerrant:


I’m glad now that we spent all those days years ago carefully sorting through the centuries of accumulated stuff on this place. We probably inadvertently threw away some treasures. But we saved plenty as well.

26 comments on “History

  1. shoreacres says:

    Oh, my. What a treasure trove, for sure. I must say, Mattie Sue was a lovely woman. And the tidbit I enjoyed most? The little note to parents on the report card. My mother’s had the same sort of thing. When we hear discussions about the decline of education in this country, so many factors implied in that single message are relevant: respect for teachers, an assumption of two parents, an expectation that parents will be involved, and a presumption that the purpose of school was education, not babysitting. O tempore! O mores!

    Think how much of what you’ve found would be unavailable, had the world been digitized back then. And think how much of what you’ve found would be undecipherable to children today, because their schools have decided not to teach that old-fashioned cursive any longer. We’re cutting them off from the past.


    • Bill says:

      I benefit from the fact that it seems they never threw away anything. I have receipts going back to 1880. Why save them so long? Now, of course, I’m glad they did. But they also saved every newspaper, every utility bill, every letter, etc. I spent many days carefully sorting through the paper that was in some places feet deep in the house. (Much of the old furniture had been stolen, but fortunately the thieves emptied the drawers before leaving.) I’m looking forward to working my way more slowly back through all this stuff now.

      The report card was interesting. Separate grades for “arithmetic written” and “arithmetic mental”?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lynda says:

        Bill, the grades for arithmetic I get. Often a child can work a problem on paper, but cannot do it in their head. Regrettably I was one of the latter in school. After completing university for my teaching credentials I am happy to report that math no longer makes me mental and I am now able to do mental math. ‘-)

        Best part of teaching little kids to work with numbers? Telling them I had trouble too when I was their age and then helping them to overcome their fear of math!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. valbjerke says:

    I love having tangible links to the past – my house and guest cabin are filled with history. My grandparents and great grand parents owned Dairy’s….. I have the ‘order tickets’ people would leave out with the empty milk and cream bottles on delivery day, I have and use some of the milk and cream bottles. Many photographs on display, many examples of needlework (a lost art it seems), many tools (which are still in use here). I think these things ground us – we get a sense of where we came from and provide a window into a past that although may have seemed a ‘simpler’ time, was nonetheless more work than any of us are prepared to do today. 😊


    • Bill says:

      You’re right about that. Just yesterday my mother was telling me about how they “shocked” corn when she was a girl. I think we worked pretty hard as children, but compared to my mother’s generation we were slackers.

      It’s nice that these reminders of the past are still with us. I’m pleased that we were able to rescue as much as we have–and it sounds like you’ve been able to do that too. There’s a lot of value, I think, in staying connected to our histories.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I am the keeper of our homestead’s treasures as well. Every day papers from long ago that mean so much now. I need to figure out a way to archive everything properly and preserve the items for the next generations.

    I am always astounded that our land was cleared by hand and beast, heavy timber in those days, and we wimp out with all the equipment in the world at our fingertips.

    Thanks for sharing Bill.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      If you come up with a good way to archive your papers, please share it with me. I’m not sure what to do with ours. Many of the papers are delicate and damaged by silverfish. They’re all folded and don’t like being unfolded. I’m guessing it would be wise to scan them all onto some kind of media, but on the other hand plain old paper might last just as long.

      All tobacco farms had a “packing barn,” a large building where the cured tobacco was packed for market. Ours was sadly too far gone to save and we eventually had it demolished. Beneath it was a huge deep cellar. The barn was probably built in the 1870s or earlier. As we were preparing to get rid of it I remember wondering how in the world they dug that cellar without an excavator. We really do look like wimps by comparison.


  4. Oh Bill.. What beautiful treasures connected with the family.. How precious are these.. What a beautiful find.. How wonderful to be able to catalogue them properly and present them in some form so that they can be passed down to future generations..
    I have hardly anything from my family.. So I know how sacred I would be treating these items..
    Wishing you a wonderful week Bill..


    • Bill says:

      Thanks Sue. I haven’t yet figured out how best to catalogue and save these things, but I’m pleased to know they’re safe for now. I found most of the oldest farm records in an old canvas bag buried beneath a mountain of junk and trash in a part of the old house that was caving in. Another year or so and they would have been lost forever.

      Liked by 1 person

      • So pleased you rescued them.. Could you not try to make a scrap book out of them, you know the ones which have the plastic sleeves so they will not get torn or damaged.. 🙂 Or one of those large photo sleeved albums that you could put in date order.. 🙂 What an heirloom to pass along 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I would suggest getting in contact with your local archivist about how to best deal with your treasure trove of ancient paper… Best of luck!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Farmgirl says:

    I am in love with Mattie Sue’s dress! What treasures! Thank you for sharing!


  6. Great treasures, Bill. I think there is a direct correlation between our age and our interest in family history. Don’t know why that is so since it seems like a great way to entice our children into studying history. Also, I have the same regret as so many that I didn’t talk more to my parents and grandparents about their past. I certainly urge all of our readers to do so if their parents and grandparents are still living. I did do a fair amount of genealogical research before blogging took over my free time, however, and found it fascinating. Peggy and I wandered the country checking out where our ancestors lived. I even found some 50 family documents (Great Grandparents to the 5th) from the Revolutionary War period at a genealogical library in Maryland. What fun that was! –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      I caught the genealogy bug about 20 years ago, did a lot of research and accumulated a lot of information. Then I got busy on other things and quit working on it. Now I have all that work on old floppy disks! I’ve resolved to dust them off and finally get it all organized. When that will happen is as yet undetermined.


  7. Wow I love stuff like that – what a family treasure! ❤
    Diana xo

    ps. I love that headache medicine that cures nervousness from brain overwork – we certainly could use some of that these days in our over stimulating, information overload world!


    • Bill says:

      Yes, I can think of plenty of times I suffered from “nervousness from brain overwork.” Probably could’ve used a shot of that stuff (if it didn’t have the poison in it!).

      Liked by 1 person

  8. True treasures. Glimpses of the past. We’re uncovering some similar items as we work our way though items my aunt and uncles saved from ancestors.


    • Bill says:

      It’s great that you’re getting the opportunity to do that. I had to sort through a lot of junk to find the treasures, but I’m glad I took the time to do it.


  9. Wow Bill, these are awesome, thanks for sharing them! Oh, and about Chelf’s (Celery Caffeine) Compound? http://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/search/object/nmah_715038


  10. roscoe74 says:

    That Nixon badge is from the 1972 election, right?


    • Bill says:

      Yes. The motto in ’68 was “Nixon Now.” In ’72 they went with “Nixon Now More Than Ever.” I’m fairly sure I brought that button home, but I can’t remember where I got it. I was 12 that year.


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