Everyone loves a good treasure hunt. In what feels like a tale of hidden messages and secrets, a painting kept a document hidden for more than 100 years. Though it was old and delicate, the document – a marriage certificate from 1872 – eventually found its way back to a living descendant.
After arriving at the Hope Harbor Home in North Carolina, the painting of a young girl and her dog, went through a sanitization process. It was there that the marriage document was discovered. Karmen Smith, the shop’s executive director posted a picture of it on social media, hoping someone might be able to help connect the dots and find out who it belonged to, according to Fox News.
“Alright Facebook world, I need a miracle. We here at Hope Harbor Home and Hope Chest Thrift Store(s) need you to do your magic. Like, SHARE, and comment on this post and lets see if we can make this happen!!” Smith wrote on the post.
“Yesterday when at the Hope Chest Store in Bolivia we began to look at an old picture that had been donated. The image was a little girl putting flowers in a black dog’s collar. The words on the top read, “Christmas Number Illustrated London News 1889″. That’s not the coolest part though,” Smith continues to explain. “Upon looking at the back it was discovered that beneath the paper was a hidden file folder. This file, contained the Marriage Certificate of a New Jersey couple. The date of the vows, was April 11th, 1875! This is a true treasure and was obviously, at one point in time, protected.”
Connecting the Dots Behind the Painting and Document
Interestingly, it didn’t take long before the web sleuths went to work. Searching through social media and public records, genealogists were able to track down a number of leads.
Smith said reuniting the document with its family became her mission.
“I have very concrete memories of my grandfather telling me story after story about family [members],” Smith said. “I think it’s just so beautiful because it really gives you that realization that your parents, even though you’ve only known them the time that you’ve been alive, they had this whole life before you.”
Eventually, a woman named Connie Knox used Ancestry.com to track down the family history of the names on the marriage certificate to who she thought was a descendant. It turns out she was right. Knox messaged 65-year-old Irene Cornish, who confirmed she was the great-granddaughter of the woman on the document.
While Cornish’s family came from Ireland and settled in the Northeast, she’s not too sure how the marriage certificate ended up in North Carolina.
“I’m still kind of in shock by it all,” Cornish told FOX News.
The chance happening and special heirloom are sure to make a fun family story for generations to come.