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Movie buff Peter Massie hit the big time when he discovered a reel of nitrate film in his soon to be demolished barn outside of Nelson, New Hampshire. The reel was the only known copy of the 1913 film When Lincoln Paid, starring Francis Ford, the brother of legendary actor John Ford.
John Ford, who is known for his films such as Stagecoach, The Grapes of Wrath, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance arrived in Hollywood on the heels of his successful brother, Francis, who made a considerable living as an actor, writer, and director. Francis Ford later went on to play bit parts in his younger brother's movies.
When Lincoln Paid was one of the films where Francis Ford wrote, starred, and directed and one of many films where Ford played the legendary figure of Abraham Lincoln. One of only 13 surviving films directed by Francis Ford, the film is about a Southern mother who asks Abraham Lincoln to give clemency to the Confederate soldier she turned in after learning the Civil War has taken the life of her own son, fighting for the Union.
The film was handed over to Keene State College in New Hampshire and then to the George Eastman House film preservation unit. The film has been restored and will be shown at Kenne State College on April 20, perhaps the first time the film has been seen in nearly a hundred years. The cold New England winters are credited with helping to preserve the volatile nitrate film from which the movie is made. The film has now been converted onto DVD format for further preservation.