Lincoln's handwritten speech pulled from history museum ashes

Four months after a fire tore through the Aberdeen Museum of History, crews are finally able to get inside to see what survived.

>> Read more trending news

Among the recovered pieces is an 1859 handwritten speech from President Abraham Lincoln. Museum director Dave Morris said finding the surviving artifact in the ashes nearly brought him to tears.

"Oh my God, this is Abraham Lincoln's handwriting. This is just amazing. So, I'm glad this is still here,” he said.

It's been a grueling four months for the people of Aberdeen.

"I'm not going to lie, I broke down and cried. I cried like a little baby,” said Morris.

In June, they watched more than a century of the city's history go up in flames.

“Sometimes, you feel like you're letting people down, even though you know there's nothing you could've done,” said former museum director Dann Sears.

The flames and water damaged the building so badly, it wasn't safe to step inside until this week.

Restoration crews have been hard at work combing through the ashes. They've dug out piles of papers, vintage Aberdeen sweaters and artifacts that showcase the city's rich history.

“We have a very vibrant history of logging and timber and shipping. Aberdeen was one of the largest ports for timber and other goods for a very long time. It was a very wealthy community in the 1920s and '30s,” said Aberdeen Mayor Erik Larson.

They also recovered a 1992 Polaroid of Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love and their daughter, Frances Bean.

“To me, everything was priceless,” said Morris.

Some things aren't worth saving and many pieces can never be replaced. Crews are forced to pour piles of charred remains straight into the trash.

“There were families that date back to pioneer times that are still here. Their families’ heirlooms were in here and they trusted us with them. Their clothing, all kinds of stuff that belonged to different families,” said Morris.

Although he's heartbroken, Morris said Aberdeen has a history of rising from the ashes. He said they may never know what caused the fire, but museum officials plan to rebuild.

To donate to the Aberdeen Museum of History, contact the museum by emailing

You can also donate online to the Grays Harbor Community Foundation.

About the Author