EUREKA — A reflection of the people and happenings in Eureka’s distant past has been discovered in an unlikely place: inside an old mirror in Wisconsin.
“My husband, Gary Frank, was refinishing an antique walnut Eastlake-style mirror,” said Ann Frank of Evansville, which is about 175 miles from Eureka. “While taking the glass out of the mirror, he noticed a newspaper under the wood slats that hold the glass in place. He said they used to typically put newspapers behind the glass to decrease vibration. He removed the wood slats and took the newspaper out. He was very excited to see the date on the newspaper being 1879, as this confirmed to him how old this antique truly is.”
The newspaper was the Thursday, Aug. 21, 1879, edition of the Eureka Journal, founded in 1867. It was the forerunner of the Woodford County Journal.
Ann Frank decided to share the find with the people in the newspaper’s town of origin. “I sought out the Eureka Facebook page because I thought it would be cool and possibly interesting to the folks in Eureka,” she said. Frank’s post spurred several suggestions from Facebook users recommending Eureka people and groups that might be interested in knowing more, including the Woodford County Journal.
Although the couple are not professional antique collectors, Frank said they do own Eastlake-style furniture, which was popular from 1860 to 1890. The style is known for the philosophy that furniture and decor in people's homes should be made by hand or by machine workers who take personal pride in their work. It is sturdy, simple and incorporates more modest curves and designs than the highly decorative carving and ornamentation of other Victorian-era furnishings.
The mirror caught Gary Frank’s eye at an antique auction in Wisconsin three years ago. “He thinks the mirror was manufactured in Eureka due to the use of the Eureka newspaper,” Frank said. “He noted that the nails used were classic antique square nails — the original ones. We really don’t know the life of the mirror’s travels, but we’re pretty sure this newspaper has not seen the light of day since 1879.”
And what is the future of this historical discovery? “Well, Gary’s plan was to put the newspaper under glass, frame it and hang it on the wall,” Frank said. “However, he is agreeable to sending it back ‘home.’ The only stipulation we’d have is that it be taken care of with love and displayed.”
Woodford County Journal editor Cheryl Wolfe said the oldest Eureka newspapers at the Journal office date to the 1890s, so a newspaper from the 1870s would be a very welcome addition.