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Discoveries from local barn reveal glimpse into the past

by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter

A receipt from 1917 for 14 copies of the Cos County Democrat was recently uncovered in an old barn in Whitefield. (Photo by Tara Giles) (click for larger version)
August 14, 2019
WHITEFIELD — Last week, Whitefield resident Tim Overhoff was in the loft of his barn, pulling down old boards when a flurry of old papers fell from a pile of old hay that had been stuck behind the boards.

Among the findings were old letters, bank ledgers, postcards, and old receipts from the Cos County Democrat and the Littleton Courier dating back to 1917.

The old cape style home located on Littleton Rd was built in 1875 when Ulysses S. Grant was the President of the United States. Around this time an anti-slavery society was formed in New York. The Civil Rights Act of 1875 was enacted which affirmed the equality of all men before the law and prohibited racial discrimination in public places. In 1883, the act was overturned, then reinstated in 1964, almost 100 years later.

Back to the present, the findings range from the years 1917 through 1930. In 1917, the year that the Converse All Star high top sneaker hit the market, a woman by the name of Minnie Rhodenezir was buying copies of this very paper you hold in your hands. Back then the news circled mainly around WW1.

In June of 1929, Rhodenezir placed a deposit of $50.00 into her account at the Littleton National Bank. It appears that the woman only made deposits once or twice per month and three or four times per month during the summer season. In November, she paid $32.39 to C. B. Richardson, DR. Dealer in Coal, as the slip reads.

Of the findings, Overhoff said, "I went out to the barn to take down some old barn board. Someone had put an old ceiling over the stairway, so when you walked into the barn, that's where the hay was."

He continued to tell the story, saying "All of a sudden, I see all of this paperwork come flying down. I couldn't believe it. I picked it all up and went inside to show my wife. We were just in awe and wondering what else could be hidden in this house."

Tim's wife Michelle noted that an old envelope had the address written as Minnie Rhodenezir, Whitefield.

She said, "There was no zip code, no house address, nothing. Zip codes were introduced in 1963, although we know that if you send a letter addressed to someone in Whitefield or Lancaster, with just a name, it'll find its destination with ease."

An old letter to Minnie, dated Feb. 5, 1930, from her son reads, "My Darling Mother, What's the matter dear, are you sick or are you busy? I have not received a letter from you for a long time. Dry but it's nice here now, for the last couple of days we have sweat. Remember in my last letter I spoke of spitting snow, well it spit five inches in one night. Ha. Spit. It lasted a couple of days and now it is nice again. Work is going o.k. And I feel fine. There is a little breeze here this morning but the sky is great. How is ever body up north dear? I don't seem to be in a mood to write this morning all I wanted to know is if you are o.k. Keeping busy and love me. This is the shortest letter I guess I have ever written you but I love you just the same. Love and Kisses, Carl. Tell Ppo and Ruth to write."

Michelle said, "We found another letter that was just once sentence, that read 'Dear Mother, why haven't you written?' That must have been their version of a quick text message."

A Google search didn't come up with any information on this woman. 'Minnie' was a nick name used typically for Mary. If anyone has any information regarding this family, please reach out us here at the paper.

Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
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