It was 7:30 a.m. Tuesday when Prairie Village residents Laurel Jones and Molly Sauder heard the sound of crunching glass while on their morning walk around Franklin Park. They went to investigate, and found a framed item lying in the middle of Somerset Drive near the 87th Street crosswalk.
A couple of cars had clearly hit the item, but it was mostly intact. Jones and Sauder brushed away the broken glass and gave the parchment a close look. It was a proclamation dated March 1864 that nominated a man named A.H. Melton to the rank of captain in the Union army. It carried a signature from president Abraham Lincoln.
“We were looking at this thinking, ‘Could this be real?'” Jones said. Storm clouds were moving in, and Jones and Sauder felt like they had to get the item out of the elements. They spent the morning making calls trying to figure out who it belonged to before connecting with the Prairie Village Police Department. (We posted a notice about the lost item in Thursday’s morning roundup).
Two days after Jones and Sauder found the document, the owners stepped forward — very happy to be reunited with the authentic item that had been in the family for more than a century. In the midst of moving some of their possessions around during a home remodeling project, one of the owners had left the framed proclamation on top of his car and inadvertently driven away. It slid into the road a couple of blocks from his home as he drove to work.
“It just absolutely restores your faith in mankind,” said his wife of the family getting the heirloom back. It bears minor damage, but is in remarkably good shape given that it was run over, she said.
Jones said she and Sauder were extremely relieved when they heard it had been returned to its owners.
“It’s just thrilling,” Jones said. “It’s such a godsend to know it’s back.”