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A House Divided
Posted at 03:49 PM ET, 11/14/2013

Virginia court records taken during Civil War return home

One hundred and fifty-one years after Union troops camping in Stafford County, Va. ransacked the county court house, destroying or stealing records found there, two of the documents came home Thursday.

In a brief ceremony Thursday morning at Stafford, George Bresnick of South Worthington, Mass. who found the papers in a neighbor’s attic trunk and researched their origin, handed them over to County Clerk of Court Barbara Decatur. Each one dealt with local farmers who had borrowed money and were slow to pay it back.

Decatur said she was delighted to have the papers dating from the 1700s back where they belonged. However, there are many more that have not been returned, she said.

“We’ve had very few documents returned from that period,” she said, referring to the 1862 vandalism. “We wish everyone would look in their trunks and in the libraries and find the rest of them. We know they are out there somewhere.”

In 1903, a ledger covering the years 1664-1669 was returned to the courthouse by the New York State Library, and last year, another ledger came back to the courthouse from New Jersey.

The theft of legal papers, jewelry, enemy flags and other items was common by soldiers of both armies when they occupied a town. The items were considered souvenirs of the war and sent home to impress girlfriends and family members.

By Linda Wheeler  |  03:49 PM ET, 11/14/2013

 
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