Brian McCristall said he found dozens of personal letters belonging to the previous owner in a home he bought in Lebanon.
Now, he is looking to locate family members to turn those letters over to them.
McCristall said he bought the home at at 306 E. Spring Street in 2006 from Geraldine Eskey, a well-known schoolteacher in the area who has since died.
“From what I know, the house was built in 1852, and she was actually born in the parlor of the house in 1914,” McCristall said. “She’d never lived anywhere but this house until I bought it from her.”
McCristall said the property has a small barn in the back and after he had purchased the house he began to remodel.
“The barn had to be well over 100 years old, so I went to knock it down and all of the sudden all of these letters started flying all over the yard,” McCristall said.
McCristall said he collected all of the letters from the yard and barn but chose not to read them because they were personal letters addressed to Eskew.
“I glanced through all of the letters, and they’re all addressed to her, and they all have the original stamp and postal marks and envelopes. And they’re all handwritten letters. She saved everything,” McCristall said. “Everything about these letters is incredibly well preserved, especially since they were stored for so long in an old barn. It looks like she would read the letters and put them right back how they were and store them.”
McCristall said the dozens of letters were 60 and 70 years old and addressed to Eskew from all over the country. He said from what he believed, the letters were from family members.
Some letters found had come from San Francisco and Florida, among other places.
McCristall said Eskew did not have any children but had six brothers and sisters. He said he also believed she had nieces and nephews in the area.
“I’m pretty sure she had a sister named Francis who lived on Philadelphia Street,” McCristall said. “I think the Eskew family is pretty large and I believe she has relatives in Nashville.”
McCristall said he’s pretty sure there are members of the Eskew family in the area because he would often get visits from them looking to see what he had done with the home.
McCristall said he wished to return the letters to Eskew’s family members, and he has kept the letters in a safe place.
McCristall said he is back in Florida for work but visits Lebanon once a month and urged any family members of Eskew to contact reporters with The Democrat, who would then put them in touch with him.
“I just want to get these letters back where they belong and in the right hands,” McCristall said. “Also, if any family members want to stop by and take a look at the house, they’re welcome to. I’ve redone the houses foundation, interior and yard, so I’ve put a lot of work into this house and will continue to do so.”