“I have them,” she said. “My grandfather’s coin purse.”
This would have been nothing more than a family heirloom, of no interest to the community, except that this mildly worn, chocolate-brown leather pouch was found tucked away, hidden in the back of a file cabinet of the clerk’s office.
The owner — F.J. Malone. He was the county clerk from 1916 until 1944.
“The envelope wrapped around the coin purse had my address in San Antonio,” said Skipworth. “The writing was in my mother’s handwriting.”
The envelope held the coin purse.
Holding all of this was a delicate blue handkerchief closed by a length of brown twine.
It did indeed belong to her grandfather.
Skipworth, who was in Beeville with her daughter, Paula Caubala, Wednesday, said that she would have never heard about the coins had it not been for an article published nine months ago in the online version of this newspaper — www.mySouTex.com.
Caubala, who lives in Pleasanton, said that she brought her mother to town to see the coins, hoping to get them back.
County Clerk Mirella Escamilla Davis had found the purse during a renovation of her office on the first floor of the courthouse and wanted to find out more about it.
This story begins that, in order to comply with Texas Historical Commission rules, Davis had to move their filing cabinets while their office was remodeled.
They had done this before, but at that time, the cabinets were shrink wrapped and the drawers kept inside.
This time, they were moving them by hand and each drawer had to be pulled out.
Tucked in the back of the cabinets were various items — a page from a 1909 calendar written in Spanish, payment stamps and notes.
While the assorted items, some of them dating back to the mid-’30s were interesting, it was the handkerchief and coins that sparked her imagination.
Thus began the search for answers.
Why was it there? Was it left intentionally?
There were so many questions. And it was that mystery and its connection to the county that sparked so much interest.
Why were there four quarters, 78 dimes and a button tucked away so neatly inside this purse?
Well, the truth is simple.
Malone was saving these for his wife.
Money was tight. “He wasn’t paid a whole lot in those days,” Skipworth said.
“She didn’t work,” the granddaughter said. “They had two little rooms in the back of their house that she rented, and that was her spending money.”
But she also saved dimes. Being a young girl at the time, Skipworth never questioned her grandmother why she held onto dimes. That’s still a mystery.
“When he died, I was 10 years old. She died a couple of years before that.
“I had no idea that he saved dimes for her.”
That explains why the coins were so neatly kept together — they were for his wife.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.