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Archive for Friday, February 23, 2001

Family’s historical scrapbook rescued from the trash

February 23, 2001

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— Signed letters from Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon were among dozens of political keepsakes found inside a scrapbook salvaged from a car wash trash bin.

The black, leather-bound book chronicles the life of Charles Seward, grandson of Abraham Lincoln's secretary of state, William Seward. A woman rooting through bins stumbled across the book.

Police traced Seward's daughter and plan to give it to her, but neither she nor the authorities have any idea how it ended up in the garbage.

The letters, including several from Georgia politicians Gov. Eugene Talmadge and Sen. Richard Russell, date back to the 1930s. One dated Nov. 1, 1968, is signed by then-presidential candidate Nixon.

"I want to express my personal appreciation for your efforts on behalf of my candidacy for President of the United States of America," reads the typed letter.

Seward, who was a justice of the peace in Atlanta, never achieved the political prominence of his grandfather. He graduated in 1923 from Georgia Tech his transcript is included in the scrapbook and became treasurer of Manufacturers Office Supply Co. in Atlanta.

He petitioned Talmadge to be named U.S. marshal in north Georgia. His request was rejected in a letter signed by Talmadge. Another letter, signed by Roosevelt, thanked Seward for his support during the 1932 presidential campaign.

Seward's daughter, Mary McDonald, was located late Wednesday. She lives in Atlanta, about 100 miles south of Chattanooga.

McDonald said she was unaware there was a scrapbook of her father. She speculated her mother may have discarded it inadvertently when she sold her Atlanta home in 1975. Both of her parents are dead.

"I'm absolutely thrilled," she said. "I never knew it even existed, and I have no idea how it would have ended up there."

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