When I passed through Fort Meade last week, I hoped to at least locate one city document that contained Rupert Charles McClellan's signature. After all, my great grandfather served as mayor of that tiny Florida city for one brief term during the early 1900s.
When we looked at the binders stored at the Fort Meade Historical Society's museum, though, the earliest volume contained data from 1914—too late for my great grandfather's term in office.
While we couldn't find any such records, it was interesting to see what was included in the volumes of documents stored at the city's museum. Most of those early records—at least the pages which survived the ravages of time—seemed to be forms naming citizens and specifying the charges for which they were being fined.
Though the documents didn't carry Mayor McClellan's signature for any of those items dated 1914 forward, what was lacking at the point of service fortunately was made up for at the point at which the money came due. While these were not glamorous mementos of my great grandfather's term in office, at least I found what I wanted: a signature by the mayor (well, at least in pre-printed format) displayed on one of Fort Meade's tiniest official documents.
On the first day of July, 1919, the Town of Fort Meade, Polk County, Florida, will pay to bearer the sum of twenty five dollars ($25.00) in gold coin of the United States of America of current weight and fineness at the Office of the Treasurer of said town, being six months interest then due on its sewer bond dated July 1st 1912.
One after another, small stickers were affixed on—no, over—those old records of fines noted in the 1914 binder from the city's archives. It brought to mind our research trip, last year, to check the microfilmed baptismal records in 1830s Ireland, when I wondered, "What happened to the outside margins of the pages?" In that case, the Irish priest, desperate for a wick with which to light the votive candles, would tear tiny slivers from the margins of the baptismal records, themselves. In this Florida version, the city clerks had apparently decided to co-opt the older records as a storage device when investors cashed in their notes on the Fort Meade sewer bond.
Yeah. Told you: not glamorous. But worth gold to someone.