Papers signed by famous ’30s FBI man found in Ohio

In this Oct. 30, 2014 photo, Teresa Corall, director of Records Retention for Summit County, left, and Karen Kearns, look over records from the 1920s and 30s found in the attic of the Summit County Courthouse in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Record-keepers examining long-forgotten documents in a northeast Ohio courthouse have found some unremarkable depositions with a noteworthy signature: Melvin Purvis Jr., the FBI man famous for tracking down John Dillinger and other gangsters in the 1930s. (AP Photo/Akron Beacon Journal, Karen Schiely) MANDATORY CREDIT

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Record-keepers examining long-forgotten documents in a courthouse have found some unremarkable depositions with a noteworthy signature: Melvin Purvis Jr., the FBI man famous for tracking down John Dillinger and other gangsters in the 1930s.

Workers found the documents in the Summit County courthouse attic, the Akron Beacon Journal reported. The depositions, signed in 1927, involved a lawsuit over potatoes between an Akron company and one in South Carolina, where Purvis practiced law before joining the FBI.

FBI historian John Fox said it’s an interesting discovery because the agency typically doesn’t have many records on agents from that era prior to their FBI work.

“He’s certainly one of those interesting characters in our past,” Fox said.

The signatures were found by two county records retention workers, and they might have gone unnoticed if not for some motherly advice.

Worker Karen Kearns said her mother taught her never to get rid of stuff without going through it, and that’s why she urged colleague Teresa Corall to check out what was in the old boxes.

Corall said she recognized Purvis’ name from the 1973 movie “Dillinger,” which starred Warren Oates as Dillinger and Ben Johnson as Purvis.

“I’ve never found anybody famous like this,” she said.

Purvis died in 1960, and some documents with his signature have been put up for sale for thousands of dollars. The ones found in Summit County, however, seem likely to stay there.

Corall hopes to frame them among other interesting finds displayed at the records retention center in the basement of a county building in Cuyahoga Falls.

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