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Student finds letter written by former U.S. president

William McKinley letterMorehead State Senior Isabella Carpintero, a public history major from Russell, never expected to make a historic discovery during her internship. But, while conducting research, she discovered a letter that shed light on the early life of former U.S. President William McKinley.  

"I honestly stopped breathing for a few seconds. I felt so lucky," Carpintero said. "I thought I was dreaming. I didn't believe what I was holding. I think I repeated, ‘Oh my gosh’ like six times. I was speechless, entirely flabbergasted."  

Carpintero was working as an intern at the Z.D. Ramsdell Civil War Home Museum in Ceredo, West Virginia, when she discovered the letter tucked in a book. The letter, dated June 27, 1862, was written by then Lieutenant McKinley of the 23rd Ohio Infantry to Ramsdell. Carpintero found the letter Jan. 7 while researching another artifact in the museum and said her internship supervisor was just as surprised by her finding the letter as she was.   

"My museum supervisor was flabbergasted as well. She wasn't expecting us (staff member wise) to find any more major documents," she said. “Its discovery proves to doubters that there are still artifacts from the past to find; not everything has been discovered. The letter's discovery also allows us some insight as to the way business and manners were conducted in the past, just by looking at the way the letter is addressed and the greetings. The find also gives the museum some stronger sense of importance."  

The letter is preserved at the Ramsdell Museum, and a copy has been sent to the McKinley Presidential Museum and Library for their documentation and to gain authenticity due to no mark or sign of a scribe having written it.   

For more information about Morehead State's history programs, visit, email or call 606-783-2655.
Photo: Isabella Carpintero found a letter from U.S. President William McKinley in a book at the Z.D. Ramsdell Civil War Home Museum while conducting research as an intern.