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Forgotten documents become incredible discovery for volunteer at Historical Society

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You always hear about it and wish it was you. People looking behind their couch and finding a priceless work of art or artifact. Well, that dream became a reality for a small North Country museum. As our Brian Dwyer tells us, a day of cleaning lead to an unbelievable discovery.

WATERTOWN, N.Y. -- Sid Shafer spends a lot of his free time at the Jefferson County Historical Society in Watertown helping to organize and clean. He's run into some pretty cool things in his time. But nothing like the day a few weeks ago, sorting through some frames in a corner of the third floor storage area.

"We discovered initially the first of the George Washington documents and then the second. They were framed and apparently had been living on the shelf for what appeared to be decades," Shafer said.

Two items, a military promotion certificate and a ship passport. Both are hand signed by our first president, both authenticated.

But that wasn't all. He found papers signed by Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson and both Roosevelts. Fourteen presidents in all, eight of the first 10, all sitting there on that shelf, unnoticed for nearly 90 years.

"The problem is, turnover of directors, turnover in people, other events," Shafer said. "Things get lost. They get forgotten. The beauty of it is they weren't lost, they were just forgotten."

The museum is already planning a fundraising event to put them all on display. It's set to happen in February, on President's Day.

"We're really excited about it because this is something that you don't find typically in a local historical society," Jefferson County Historical Society Executive Director Bill Wood said.

Shafer also found two documents signed by our 16th president Abraham Lincoln, but they were in pretty rough shape. The museum sent them out and found out it would cost about $4,000 to help conserve and preserve. It's money the museum say it's got to find a way to raise.

"If someone is genuinely interested in helping, we would love the help," Wood said. "I'd love to be able to present the documents in February, fully restored."

Shafer also found a British document dated 1624 and a land grant from 1778 for what is now the state of West Virginia.

If you're interested in helping the historical society save the signed Abe Lincoln documents, you're asked to call the museum at (315) 782-3491.

Wow. Thats pretty awesome to find documents like that. If you click the link and watch the video a couple of those documents look pretty elaborate. I bet those guys at Pawn Stars would have loved to have gotten a hold of them. :P


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