Historic Discovery at Lycoming College
WILLIAMSPORT– Lycoming College in Williamsport will lose its president at the end of this month, but in the process, it’s found an important piece of history. James Douthat is retiring after 24 years as president of Lycoming College. Last week, he was cleaning out his closet, packing up his office.
“I noticed on one side of the shelving what I thought was an access door. But it turned out to be the back of the document. I looked at it more closely and realized there was an Abraham Lincoln signature on it,” Douthat said.
Lycoming College Historian, Dr. John Piper says the document was signed in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln. The certificate named the Reverend Benjamin Crever, who had founded Lycoming College as a chaplain during the Civil War.
“I knew this document existed. I knew he was formerly a hospital chaplain. I went looking for it and the whole archive staff went looking for it and we couldn’t find it,” Dr. Piper said.
“It wasn’t a discovery, it was a find. We found something that we’d lost for a period of time and now it’s back where it belongs,” Douthat said.
The document is 150 years old, and was donated to Lycoming College in 1958. School officials say a similar certificate recently sold for $11,000, but Lycoming College will not sell this one.
“It was being preserved in a closet, it’s just that nobody knew it was there. It’s better to know where it is so we can occasionally let people see it,” Dr. Piper said.
The document will be kept here in the college archive section of the school’s library. Officials at Lycoming College say one thing’s for certain, they will always know where the document is from now on.