A visit to the Royal Oak Historical Society Museum

Muriel Versagi and Bill Nash


It’s a wonderful museum!  The place exudes with the warmth of the past in a very appealing way.  Muriel Versagi is the museum Curator.  She is a delight-very friendly and welcoming.  On a very rainy day in Michigan, I paid a visit at her invitation.  The occasion ?  The museum is the holder of a recently-authenticated little piece of paper bearing a message and the signature of Abraham Lincoln.  The article had been filed away in one of the many boxes stored in the museum that contained Lincoln memorabilia originally collected by Mr. George Dondero.  Dondero was a Michigan native and huge admirer of Lincoln.  He, at one point in his life, was also a Republican Congressman.  I was honored to sit at his desk inside the museum:

Sitting at Mr. Dondero's desk


I was privileged to be able to peruse through the “Dondero-files” on Lincoln.  Frankly, there was much more there than my short time available could allow.  There were newspaper articles, photographs, letters, and artifacts-in box after box.  There was even a brick from Lincoln’s Springfield home:

Holding a brick from Lincoln's Springfield home (from the Dondero collection)


Best of all, I was honored to view the Abraham Lincoln document that was “discovered” by volunteers at the museum.  Here’s what the note from Lincoln says:

“Let John S. Ennis…take the oath of Dec. 8, and his discharge. January 16, 1864″  {signed} “A. Lincoln.”


See below:

The actual Lincoln document with signature



According to Muriel, President Lincoln wrote the note in response to a congressman (whose writing is on the other side of the note-not pictured).  Lincoln was in agreement that if Confederate P.O.W. John Ennis took a loyalty oath to the United States, he would be set free.  The soldier was being held at Camp Douglas in Chicago.  The document was officially authenticated by the Lincoln Museum in Springfield after the PBS show “History Detectives” got involved.  The document is small in size-only two by three inches.  However, it’s value to history, and especially to Lincoln admirers, is priceless.  Thank you Muriel for your hospitality and dedication!

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