History in the attic – Houston Herald

History in the attic – Houston Herald

In 2008, Houston resident Chance Drake bought a house on Dooley Street that was previously owned by Lawrence Hamrick.

While preparing the mansion to be offered for rent, Drake discovered something of interest within the modest attic space: A small topless wooden box containing numerous letters and documents from the late 1800s, most of which were in extremely good condition. .

“We were cleaning out the little half-attic,” Drake said, “and we found this little box. It looked old, so we decided to see what was in it.

“It blew my mind.”

A receipt from 1883 showing a payment of $3.80 made by Thomas Hamrick for taxes on an 84-acre parcel of land in Jefferson County.

The contents of the box included several letters to Lawrence written in elegant cursive by his father, Thomas, as well as receipts for real estate tax payments, an abstract of ownership and even a list of favorite Bible verses. Drake kept the box, intending to share it and its contents publicly.

“I took it home and put it on my old desk,” Drake said. “But it’s one of those things you kind of forget.”

A few weeks ago, Drake was rearranging some things in his house to create a new office space. A drawer in the old desk was then opened and the box rediscovered.

“It’s amazing what you find sometimes in these old houses,” Drake said.

One of the letters written by Thomas to Lawrence was lettered from the International Hotel in San Francisco, which bore the statement, “the best dollar-a-day house on the coast.”

“I love history,” Drake said, “especially when it has to do with where you’re from.”

Hamrick was a sewing machine mechanic by trade who became known for making clocks as a hobby after retirement (especially “school clocks”). A special article about the creation of his watch appeared in the Herald in October 1981.

Lawrence’s daughter, Onita, and granddaughter, Annette, live on a farm in Avenal, California. Onita, 97, grew up on a farm in Texas County near Plato. She was delighted to be informed of the discovery and re-discovery of connections with her “daddy” and “grandfather”.

“This is so wonderful,” she said. “I have many wonderful memories of those days.”

Drake plans to donate the documents to a museum.

“I just think it’s something that people should be able to see,” he said.

A letter written in elegant cursive from Thomas Hamrick to his son Lawrence Hamrick in 1888. An abstract of real estate title for a parcel of land in Texas County in 1867 bears President Andrew Johnson’s signature in two places. An 1899 letterhead document bearing the name of Texas County Clerk TW Rackley shows the receipt of a payment by Thomas Hamrick in connection with a lawsuit. A receipt from 1893 showing a payment of $2.70 in real estate tax on an 80-acre parcel of land in Texas County. The former Lawrence Hamrick residence on Dooley Street as it appears today.

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