Homeowner finds 1886 letter hidden behind baseboard of his Nunica, Michigan home

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Homeowner finds letter written in 1886 by man asking original owner to purchase a 160-acre plot hidden behind the plinth of his Michigan home during renovation

  • Erik Erhorn found an age-old letter among other relics while renovating his home in Nunica, Michigan
  • The letter, written by Charles V. Warren, is dated August 3, 1886 and is addressed to Mr. Medad Spencer, who was born in New York in 1831.
  • Warren wrote to Spencer asking him to buy a large plot of land from him
  • Family records show that Medad Spencer lived on the property until his death in 1919
  • Erhorn bought the house and the building it stands on from a widow in 2017
  • The widow’s family bought the land from Erhorn’s ancestor decades earlier
  • Erhorn also found an old leather belt hidden under a rug and a washboard promotional brochure

A Michigan homeowner found an 1886 letter still in its original envelope hidden in the base of his home during renovations.

Erik Erhorn, who serves as the Crockery Township Supervisor in Nunica, worked on his home – originally built in 1879 – with his brother Tyler when they opened the historic letter along with other relics.

The letter, written by Charles V. Warren, is dated August 3, 1886, and is addressed to Mr. Medad Spencer, who was born in New York in 1831 and later moved to Nunica.

Erik Erhorn, who serves as the Crockery Township Supervisor in Nunica, Michigan, found the 1886 letter hidden behind a plinth

Erik Erhorn, who serves as the Crockery Township Supervisor in Nunica, Michigan, found the 1886 letter hidden behind a plinth

The letter, written by Charles V. Warren, is dated August 3, 1886, and is addressed to Mr. Medad Spencer, who was born in New York in 1831 and later moved to Nunica.

The letter, written by Charles V. Warren, is dated August 3, 1886, and is addressed to Mr. Medad Spencer, who was born in New York in 1831 and later moved to Nunica.

The letter, written by Charles V. Warren, is dated August 3, 1886, and is addressed to Mr. Medad Spencer, who was born in New York in 1831 and later moved to Nunica.

Warren wrote to Spencer asking him to buy a large plot of land from him

Warren wrote to Spencer asking him to buy a large plot of land from him

Warren wrote to Spencer asking him to buy a large plot of land from him

Family records show that Medad Spencer lived on the property until his death in 1919

Family records show that Medad Spencer lived on the property until his death in 1919

Family records show that Medad Spencer lived on the property until his death in 1919

“From August 3, 1886, M. Spencer, sir …” the letter begins.

Warren contacted Spencer to ask him to consider buying a large plot of land from him.

“Karel V. Warren van Hart wanted Medad to sell his property down here and buy the property in Hart, his 160 acres,” Erhorn said. Fox 17 News

The letter then describes the valuable land.

‘And it talks about, you know, the good tillage, the little brooks that run through it, and then the good wood … there is good rail wood, good buildable wood, lots of wood … ‘ Erhorn explained.

Erhorn bought the house and property it stands on in 2017 from a widow whose family had just bought the land from Erhorn's ancestor decades earlier

Erhorn bought the house and property it stands on in 2017 from a widow whose family had just bought the land from Erhorn's ancestor decades earlier

Erhorn bought the house and property it stands on in 2017 from a widow whose family had just bought the land from Erhorn’s ancestor decades earlier

Erik and his brother Tyler found the letter in the original envelope behind a plinth under a window

Erik and his brother Tyler found the letter in the original envelope behind a plinth under a window

Erik and his brother Tyler found the letter in the original envelope behind a plinth under a window

Erhorn also found an old leather belt hidden under a rug and a washboard promotional brochure

Erhorn also found an old leather belt hidden under a rug and a washboard promotional brochure

Erhorn also found an old leather belt hidden under a rug and a washboard promotional brochure

1886 – A historic year in the United States of America

February 6–9 – The Seattle Riot of 1886: Anti-Chinese sentiments spark riots in Seattle, Washington

May 8 – Pharmacist Dr. John Stith Pemberton invents a carbonated drink that will be called ‘Coca-Cola’

June 2 – Grover Cleveland marries Frances Folsom at the White House, the only president to be married in the executive mansion

October 28 – In New York Harbor, US President Grover Cleveland dedicates the Statue of Liberty.

The letter stayed under the plinth for at least 135 years and survived the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 and two world wars.

According to an entry on Xome, the house was built in 1875.

Family information indicate that Medad Spencer lived on the property until his death in 1919. He was buried at Nunica Cementery.

Erhorn bought the house and the property it stands on from a widow in 2017, but in a different direction, the widow’s family had bought the land from Erhorn’s ancestor decades earlier.

“They bought it from my great-grandfather, who bought the farm from the Spencer family in the early 1940’s,” he said.

In addition to the letter, Erhorn also found an old leather belt hidden under a rug and a promotional brochure for a washboard – ribbed shelves that were the 19th-century version of washing machines.

The discovery of Erhorn is a window into life in the city of West Michigan more than 100 years ago. He says he has not yet decided what to do with the letter.

‘It was 1886 … So, I mean, that was 20 years after the end of the Civil War. It was 30 years before World War I broke out, ‘said Erhorn. “Things we think were so long ago, this letter far surpasses them.”

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