SC treasurer sends Civil War papers back to Ohio

By Stewart Moore - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - South Carolina Treasurer Curtis Loftis is getting ready to send some lost Civil War documents back to the family of an Ohio soldier who fought in the battle at Gettysburg.

The documents have been sitting in a vault in the treasurer's office since shortly after Col. Ira W. Cory's grandson died in Charleston in 1987, leaving them in a safe deposit box. They include Cory's discharge papers, a unit roster and papers outlining battle plans.

Cory was called a hero at the Battle of Gettysburg in his obituary in the New York Times. Years later, his discharge documents from the union army were found in a safety deposit box in the state treasurer's vault. Since then, his heirs and the rightful owners have been nowhere to be found.

"This is the first time I've been able to look at them, to see the Paymaster General muster him out," said Treasurer Curtis Loftis. "Really great."

In stepped Jeanette Simkins, a genealogist who saw the story on Cory's lost documents and started doing some digging. "If anybody has Civil War documents of mine, I would like for them to find me," said Simpkins. "So that's why I wanted to find him."

Simkins says it wasn't easy finding Cory's heirs. She solicited, took a trip to a Charleston library and visited a graveyard. Finally she got a break and went back to the Internet. "I just kept searching, ended up doing a Google search and found tax records of Mr. Cory with his address in Ohio," said Simpkins.

The documents are going to be gathered up, placed in a secure envelope and shipped to Ohio. Loftis hopes this story will inspire others to do a little research of their own to see if they have any lost documents or family heirlooms.

"The Palmetto Payback program processed 13,000 claims last year," said Loftis. "13,000 South Carolinians were reunited with uncashed payroll, all types of things. It's a great program."

The treasurer's office has millions of dollars in unclaimed property, including abandoned bank accounts and unclaimed shares of stock.

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Copyright 2011 WIS. All rights reserved. AP contributed to this report.