Trash or Treasure

11/11/2013 6:18 AM
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It can be a dreaded time of life – getting older, having to move from the home you’ve had for years, consolidating all the things you’ve accumulated, or even passing on before you’ve had the chance to clean or bequeath.

While not the happiest topic, my and my husband’s families are going through such hardships right now.

On my side, my maternal grandmother realizes that she’s not getting any younger and feels she’s doing the right thing by trashing some of her “less important” possessions. But what’s bothersome to my family and me are that some of the things she refers to as “less important” are actually rather significant to us.

Examples of her trash that we’ve luckily saved: The original farm sign my grandfather made, two antique deeds to one of the family farms, the birth and death certificates of my great-grandparents, and my grandfather’s first pair of baby booties.

On my husband’s side, his grandparents didn’t get the chance to go through all of their belongings prior to passing on. Whether that’s a good thing or not is debatable. But what I do know is that I’m very thankful that my husband’s aunts, uncles and parents are extremely interested in preserving as much of the family’s heritage as possible.

My mother-in-law was fortunate enough to have discovered some antique documents through which Grandpa and Grandma could provide some stories about before they left us.

Through her findings, my mother-in-law was able to piece together some of the deeds and other important documents to the Spangler family farm.

Two weekends ago, my husband’s aunt and uncle delved further into an olden wooden box of antique, yellowed, fragile documents. In it, they were able to find all of the deeds transferring ownership to my father-in-law back through three more generations of Spanglers.

Plus, they found deeds of farm transfers – for the same 96-acre original farm – back into the 1700s. We even have the original treaty from Nov. 5, 1768 when two sons of William Penn purchased the land from the Iroquois Indians.

On top of that, they discovered some deeds for the acquisition of neighboring farms and pieces of land, some of which the Spanglers still own today. It was pretty neat to see who the neighbors were through the years compared with today, and to follow where siblings went post marriage – one to the farm on top of the hill, one to the farm across the creek, etc.

While that’s all pretty awesome, the discovery of the original farm survey was icing on the cake. When comparing that survey with the one conducted in 1993, all of the quadrants, measurements and landmarks match.

I’m sure there are people out there who don’t see the point in keeping this entire memorabilia collection. And honestly, there isn’t much we can do with it. But it’s pretty fascinating that the Spangler family has been able to keep all the documents together and in readable condition.

One day quite a few years from now, I hope we can add the deeds transferring ownership from my father-in-law to my husband and me, and then from us to our son.

~ Jessica Rose Spangler, market editor

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