Ind. county gets check back -- 127 years later - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ind. county gets check back -- 127 years later

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LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) -- A piece of long ago showed up in the Tippecanoe County treasurer's office when a local resident dropped off a check dated June 6, 1883.

Lonnie Madden of Lafayette said his son came across the check -- issued by Tippecanoe County for $19.75 -- while working as a groundskeeper at a West Lafayette cemetery last year. Madden didn't want to just throw the 127-year-old check away, so he decided to pass it along to county Treasurer Bob Plantenga.

"Really the only explanation is that it was being thrown away or being transported somewhere and it blew away," Kathy Atwell, executive director of the Tippecanoe County Historical Association, told the Journal & Courier.

Madden agreed, saying the check must have been in storage somewhere for years before it was found.

The check is in relatively good condition with only a few small tears. Plantenga has smoothed out the remaining creases by stacking two large boxes of paper on top of it in his office.

Although there's mystery surrounding the check's recent discovery, some things are known about its origin.

The check was signed by then-county auditor Thomas Barnes and issued to a William Shively -- who Atwell said is probably the one listed in a 1883-84 city directory as owning a downtown Lafayette clothing store.

"Clothing for insane" is written in the memo portion of the check, which probably means it was used to purchase items for people at Tippecanoe County's asylum at the time, Atwell said.

The county operated what was called a "Poor Farm and Asylum" for many years. It's unclear when the asylum closed, but the last death recorded there was in 1945, Atwell said.

Using a consumer price index calculator, the $19.75 spent on clothes in 1883 would now be worth about $440.

But the 1883 check has already been cashed. At least that's what the "Filed" stamp on the back of the document likely means, Plantenga said.

"Looks like it's gone through the whole system," he said. "And now it came back."

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