Piece of history found in donation box

Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Sharon Martin, DeKalb County Historical Society president, and Sharon Murphy, treasurer, look through the Standard Atlas. This will be the oldest true copy they will have on record. The Standard Atlas will be on display at the DeKalb County Historical Society. Contributed photo

More than 100 years of township history logged in Standard Atlas

There is a saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and the cliche was found to be true when a 104-year-old DeKalb County Standard Atlas was found in a donation box at the local South Barry County Habitat for Humanity.

Tabetha Smith, vice president of Habitat for Humanity of South Barry County, said an older woman brought in a bunch of items to donate, many of them being books.

When Tabetha Smith, vice president of Habitat for Humanity of South Barry County, saw the historic landlines and other information that generations of families may want, she knew immediately she wanted to return the 104-year-old book to DeKalb County. Jordan Troutman/jtroutman@cassville-democrat.com

“That was about a month ago,” she said. “A girl who works here was going through the boxes and found this book. She immediately thought it was something special.”

The crew started thumbing through the Standard Atlas and discovered it was from 1917.

“It has the family names on the plot map,” Smith said. “It has old churches, homes, and school houses. I am very interested in those types of things, and we decided to contact the library to see if they wanted it.”

A 104-year-old treasure was recently found at the Barry County Habitat for Humanity ReStore. The Standard Atlas for DeKalb County Missouri was safely returned to its home on Monday morning. Jordan Troutman/jtroutman@cassville-democrat.com

The Barry County Library suggested they contact people at College of the Ozarks, but that was a dead end.

“So as we were looking at it, we decided to call the DeKalb County assessor’s office,” Smith said. “They sent me to their Historical Society. They were very interested in getting it back and offered to pay for shipping. But, we didn’t want it to get damaged in the mail, so we decided to deliver it in person.”

The book was safely put in the DeKalb County Historical Society’s hand on March 29.

“This is the kind of thing that people should treasure,” Smith said. “It needs to go to its home, instead of putting it away on some shelf.”

The handwritten notes in the book simply add to the uniqueness of the find.

“It shows where cemeteries are, the original railroad lines, and where additions were added,” she said. “We have found so many hidden treasures here over the years, it is always so remarkable.”

Habitat has found everything from medical texts from the 1800s and old tin type photos to a 1936 Zane Grey and an antique French five-piece bedroom set.

“You look at these things and wonder why anyone would get rid of them,” Smith said. “But, a lot of times they are items being donated after a loved one has passed and maybe no one else in the family holds sentimental value or collections.

“But, when a customer comes in and finds one of those pieces that takes them back in memories, it is amazing.”

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