Tales from the Vault #8

In the last edition of Tales we left off with the question of who was the first person to legally naturalize to Kern County. A check of the U.S. Naturalization records located in the Historical Research Center Archives shows that it was Michael Sandrigan who naturalized on July 28, 1866. He emigrated from the British Isles. At this time there is no further available information about him. Stay tuned for updates.

Some of the most interesting tales in the archives comes from the accessioning of new materials. Just a few weeks ago I received a call from the campus accounting office regarding some documents belonging to the Library that were being stored in the safe since November. As I walked over to retrieve the items, my initial thoughts were that the documents were probably related to the history of CSUB. To my surprise, I was wrong.

It wasn’t until I was back in the HRC that I discovered what a treasure the items truly are. The first was a last will and testament written in German, possibly during the 18thCentury. Accompanying the will was its English translation written circa 1860s. The next item was a leather document folder that contained five denominations of Confederate States of America currency. It was the last item that shook me to my core! Neatly folded was a document commissioning Francis H. Ruger as an Assistant Quartermaster in the Union Army signed by Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War, AND President Abraham Lincoln.

Many have asked what the next step will be with these documents. They will all need to be authenticated. For the officer’s commission this will mean having the signatures verified by an expert in the field. Some have asked, “what if it’s fake; what will you do with it?” While it would be disappointing if any or all of the documents were forgeries, if that turns out to be true, then we will utilize them in our archival literacy program to demonstrate some of the pitfalls archivists sometimes encounter. However, through our research thus far we are confident that these documents are authentic and will make a marvelous addition to our collection.

Do you want to learn more about Peter Gardett, Kern County’s first pioneers, and those who experienced the Civil War? Their story and others are available in the Historical Research Center. Come visit us! You never know what you’ll discover!