Thursday, November 10, 2011

Treasure Chest Thursday - A Chance Discovery

There are many tales of serendipity (a chance discovery) in the field of genealogy.  One particular instance in my research follows:
 I began the search for my ancestors shortly after my grandmother's death in January of 1989.  At the time of her funeral the subject came up, and several family members shared with me what they knew about the family.  I was extremely interested in it and when I returned home, began trying to find other things about the family.  I wrote some about my beginning trek into genealogy in this previous post.
After seeing my grandmother's obituary in the local paper, a woman named Frances Sizemore wrote to my uncle who lived in the area and said that our families were related.  My cousin gave me a copy of the letter and I wrote back to the woman.  Mrs. Sizemore sent me family group sheets she had completed on the Sizemore family and along with it sent a copy of a letter written by my second great grandmother, Martha Sizemore Hardy.  In this letter written to her cousin, Martha mentioned a photograph of her cousin's children.  Frances and I became friends and began a regular correspondence about family history until her death. I once commented to her that it would be nice to see the photograph Martha Hardy mentioned in her letter.

1891 ltr (portion) from Martha Hardy to Wesley Sizemore
In 1992, my husband and I took a trip to visit my grandfather.  While there, my grandfather urged me to pack up some salt & pepper shaker sets to take home with me.  These were originally part of my grandmother's collection.  One afternoon I began the task of taking them from the bookshelf, wrapping them up in newspaper and packing them in a box.  I ran out of newspaper before I had completed the project, so I sent my husband over to the neighbors to get some from her. 
While I was waiting for him to return I started dusting off one of the other shelves in the room and found a folded piece of paper stuck in the corner.  When I opened it, I found it was a recipe written in 1885 and signed by my second great grandmother, Martha Hardy!  Overjoyed at finding a piece of family history, I raced over to the neighbor's house to tell my husband.  The neighbor had lived next door for many years and her daughter was practically considered another grandchild of my grandfather's.  After telling both her and my husband what I had found, I explained further about the things I had discovered about this family line, including the copy of the letter I had.  The neighbor remembered something and went in to the other room and brought back a box.  The box contained some old photographs that my grandmother had given to the neighbor's daughter many years ago.  She explained that my grandmother had told her daughter that she didn't know who was in those old photographs, so she could have them to play with.  When the daughter brought them back to her house, her mother put them away because she felt they were too valuable to play with.  Among those photographs was a group photo of Wesley Sizemore's children.
Wesley Sizemore's children
So after many years later, I held in my hand the very photograph that my second great-grandmother mentioned in the letter written to her cousin.  Both the letter and the photograph survived and in my search had come together full circle.


  1. What a great discovery. It is quite uncanny how things can come together sometimes.

    I live in hope for my own discoveries one day.

  2. Keep at it, Anne! I'm sure whatever unseen force at work in this field will catch up with you one day, too. Thanks for the comment.