POTSDAM — A Saturday auction of hundreds of documents from the mid-1800s pertaining to St. Lawrence County has whetted the appetite of historians.
"It's a very exciting find," auctioneer Kip E. Blanchard said. "We've had a lot of interest in it."
The documents from one of the earliest law partnerships in the county — Dart & Tappan, which became the firm of Verner M. Ingram Jr., Potsdam — were stored away in a trunk. Blanchard's Auction Service discovered the papers in an attic while picking up items from an estate.
Among the papers is an 1851 St. Regis Mohawk draft petition for a Barnhart Island lease for 999 years, a Civil War letter referencing the Battle of Fredericksburg, an 1845 letter from Silas Wright to the district attorney in Potsdam, a Potsdam village board document granting the right to extend the R.W.&O. Railroad, several deeds of Clarkson family properties and an 1832 letter stating the need for a post office five miles west of Potsdam.
At first, the trunk appeared to hold a stamp collection and a sheaf of old papers, but Mr. Blanchard soon realized they were all related to the county.
Mr. Blanchard contacted all of the libraries, historical societies and archives he thought might be interested and hosted two previews that attracted 65 people to view the 250 lots.
"There's definitely some things we're interested in," said J. Susanne Longshore, collections manager for the county Historical Association. "I have my wish list."
The historical association is often the recipient of donated documents, but Ms. Longshore often wonders about what it doesn't get.
"Probably as often as people bring it here, they chuck it in a Dumpster," she said.
Carlton E. Stickney, association president and Stockholm town historian, said he hopes to purchase documents at the auction connected to Stockholm.
"Monetary wise, I don't have a clue what that's worth. We won't spend any tremendous amount of money," he said. "Whether it will be historians that buy the bulk of it or individuals, time will tell."
The documents will be sold beginning at 10 a.m. at Blanchard's Auction House, 1891 Morley-Potsdam Road, Potsdam. A second session of antiques, including a 16-inch woodcarving of Frederic Remington, the Wild West artist born in Canton, begins at noon.