One of the many interesting things that have happened out of the effort to save Woodside involved the Rannells family papers. This collection is a wide variety of legal papers, household and farm receipts, cancelled checks and documents of many different kinds.
The papers of Charles Rannells dated from 1838 to 1865. There are also many papers that were generated from the activities of his wife, Mary Warder Rannells and his son, Edward W. Rannells. Edward’s are the latest with the most recent dating from 1914. Charles passed in 1877, Mary in 1896 and Edward in 1920.
Many different family members had ownership of these papers with the largest part of the collection belonging to descendants in Texas. While perusing them a concern developed that something be done in order to insure their survival.
Charles’ papers were being stored in a wooden carpenter’s box which was probably what they were stashed in at Woodside. Many had been folded twice, stacked, and tied in bundles that had not been disturbed. Edward’s papers were still stored in his tin document box.
After a minimal amount of discussion, all of the family descendants agreed to donate their papers and allow their historic images to be copied by the Western Historical Manuscript Collection on the campus of UMSL. This organization is now known as the State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center-St. Louis (SHSMO). Only a very few treasured letters were not included in the donation. This family is deserving of our admiration for the generosity they have shown by making all of these items they have so carefully protected available to us all.
Linda Kurtz was very active in the effort to preserve Woodside. At the time of the above article, she had been working for quite awhile with the descendants of the slave families that had once worked the Rannells farm. I lost contact with her and her research. So if anyone knows of her whereabouts, please tell her I’d love to talk to her.
This is an interesting and important collection. This post reminds me I need to visit the UMSL office of the State Historical Society and see how they have preserved it. It is adjacent to the Thomas Jefferson Library. (Correction: The SHSMO office is within the Thomas Jefferson Library, adjacent to the Mercantile Library. Thanks, Esley.)
As always, I appreciate your interest and support.
Doug Houser August 5, 2021