Centennial Surprise Discovery

Monday, November 20th 2006, 6:44 pm
By: News On 6

A Green Country man makes an incredible discovery that had been locked away in an old trunk for 100 years. The amazing find uncovered documents from Indian Territory and early statehood.

News on 6 Anchor Craig Day says this is a remarkable discovery, one that is sure to draw attention from private collectors, historical societies, collectors, folks who love our state's history.

"When the trunk opened up, the smell of the musk. You could tell it's been closed for 100 years," said Miami resident Craig Sparks.

When Craig Sparks bought the contents of a home that was up for sale, he never could have imagined what 500 dollars would buy him.

"Paid for it and was cleaning out the house, and two days later, I was out in the garage and there was an old trunk," said Sparks.

Sparks found a lot of paperwork inside, which he thought must be old tax statements. A closer look revealed an incredible find.

"I didn't know what to think. I knew I had something. I didn't know for sure what it was worth," Sparks said.

It's worth a lot, especially to historians. The letters, from 1900 to 1908, were written by many of the people who shaped Indian Territory into Oklahoma.

"Letters from all the prominent people of Oklahoma back then," said Sparks, writings from a past territorial governor, Indian commissioners, and a lot of movers and shakers.

"It says Will Rogers has been in my office today to see about his filing for his allotment," said Sparks.

The information on the documents is priceless. One is from Ardmore, Indian Territory, December 13th, 1905, another from the Department of Interior from 1906, there's one from April 23rd, 1902, and one calls for prohibition when Oklahoma becomes a state.

There are more than 17-hundred letters. They show political parties trying to get a foothold in the soon to be state, early residents lobbying for government appointments, and the labor pains as a new state was born.

"Right here is the proof that's probably been hidden under a rock or should I say an old shed. Craig: For 100 years. For 100 years," said Sparks.

An appraiser who specializes in old documents will take a close look at the items. The find may fetch $200,000 that Sparks wants to use to put his children through college.