Letters ready to change hands

Homeowner set to return decades-old correspondence
Sep 25, 2013

Brian McCristall, who bought a home at 306 E. Spring Street in Lebanon, said he found dozens of personal letters belonging to the previous owner.

Now, he is in the process of locating family members so he can return the letters.

Geraldine Eskew was the previous owner of the home, which he bought in 2006. Eskew was a well-known teacher in the area who has since died.

McCristall said the property has a small barn in the back and after he bought 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 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 he believed the letters were from family members.

Some letters found had come from San Francisco and Florida, among other places.

McCristall said he wants to return the letters to Eskew’s family members, and he has kept the letters in a safe place.

Members of Eskew’s family have since contacted McCristall, including her nephew Joe Eskew.

McCristall said he was told Geraldine’s brother was still alive and living in Nashville and that he is 85 years old.

“Joe’s uncle asked him to contact me,” McCristall said. “He’s very excited about all of this and getting the letters.”

McCristall said he anticipated speaking with Eskew’s family members in the coming days.

“I’m actually looking forward to speaking with anyone from the family who knows more about the house,” McCristall said.

McCristall said one story he was told was that a congressman shot himself in the basement of the home.

“I’m really interested to hear more stories from the house and more of the history behind it,” McCristall said.

Comments

Jill Eskew Tate

So happy my family is getting these! Thanks Brian for saving them. My Aunts gave me info about Mr. Riddle that shot himself in the basement of the house if you are interested. My Uncle probably knows also. I know the house has a rich history. Love that house! Thanks again!

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