Michigan family renovating home finds letter from 1886 in pristine condition

NUNICA, Mich. — A Michigan family renovating their home found a hidden gem behind a baseboard below a window -- a letter from 1886 in perfect condition.

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Erik Erhorn was working inside his home with his brother when they found a letter addressed to Medad Spencer in an upstairs wall, WXMI reported.

The letter was dated Aug. 3, 1886, and was sent from Charles V. Warren, the television station reported. Warren was asking Spencer to consider buying a large parcel of land from him, according to WXMI.

While doing some updating. My brother and I came across a letter written in 1886. (Apparently it has been in the wall...

Posted by Erik Erhorn on Sunday, March 7, 2021

“Charles V. Warren of Hart wanted Medad to sell his property down here, and buy the property up in Hart, his 160 acres,” Erhorn told the television station, explaining the contents of the letter.

Erhorn, who is the Crockery Township Supervisor, bought the property in 2017.

According to Spencer’s death certificate, which is listed on Ancestry.com, he was born Aug. 22, 1836, in New York, and died Oct. 25, 1919, in Crockery.

Erhorn said the woman who sold him the property bought the property from his ancestors several decades ago.

“They bought it from my great-grandpa who bought the farm from the Spencer family in the early 1940s,” Erhorn told WXMI.

Erhorn said the letter extolled the virtues of the property.

“And it talks about, you know, the good tillage, the streams that run through it, and then the good timber,” Erhorn told the television station. “There’s good rail timber, good buildable timber, plenty of wood … small brooks running with trout.”

Erhorn said he also found an old leather belt under some carpet, as well as some sort of promotional brochure for a washboard.

While the 1890 census has mostly been destroyed due to a 1973 fire, the 1880 census lists Spencer as a farmer living in Nunica. The 1900 census places Spencer in the same property and lists his occupation as a “lighthouse assistant.”

Military records state that Spencer served in the Navy during the latter stages of the Civil War.

At 135 years old, the letter is in remarkably good condition.

“It was 1886. So, I mean, that was 20 years after the end of the Civil War. It was 30 years before the outbreak of World War I,” Erhorn told WXMI. “Things that we think of as being so long ago, this letter far exceeds them.”