Hidden Treasure: Family heirlooms

Hidden Treasure: Family heirlooms

Family heirlooms are precious to family members and often teach us about our heritage. They provide clues about our ancestors and how they lived.

Sometimes ancestral treasures are hidden and are only discovered years after they have been stashed away or hidden. When uncovered, they can reveal a wealth of information!

Such is the case in the story of this grandson, who recently discovered hidden treasure when cleaning out his grandparents’ garage. What his family discovered was unbelievable!

When his grandfather died a few months ago, this young man and his family went through the grandparents’ belongings. They found an old chest containing many items belonging to his great-great-grandfather (his grandfather’s grandfather), who was born in 1858. Everything in the chest was more than a century old!

Inside were farming papers and advertisements; his family were farmers in Oklahoma. There were eyeglasses, photographs, and books from the early 1900s, business letters and much more.

He continues to sort through the items to determine their origins and what they can tell him about his roots. There is one question, however, that still remains – why would his grandfather hide these historical artifacts and not share them with his children and grandchildren? That is a mystery that may take  a long time to solve…

Has anyone in your family left behind hidden treasures that were later discovered? Let us know in the comments below.


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  • Tim Campbell

    May 9, 2014

    My father was a child of the Great Depression. As such he saved everything! To my delete was a “bankers box” full of photograph’s that spanned three generations: my dad, his parents and a few from his grandfather. Of course, he passed away before I started studying my family history, so I never got to ask any questions, but thankfully my mother was still here, thought enough to give me the box and was able to answer some questions.

  • M.Briggs

    May 9, 2014

    What a tease! The least you could have done Esther is include a photo or two. Love to see family treasure!

  • Janice

    May 9, 2014

    Love stories like this! Wow! I came across an old pair of binoculars – which I now think may be the only existing item that belonged to my grandfather who died in Scotland. I would love to know if there is a story with them. Also found that my sister owns a dresser set that belonged to my great-grandmother’s sister! This would have been my grandmother’s aunt, so she must have been close to her. Not sure that my sister realized who the person was who originally owned the set but the initials engraved on them provided the clue.

  • Phillip Addenbrooke

    May 10, 2014

    in about 1965 at my Great Aunts home they where removing the old carpets and found 1895 newspapers in remarkable condition they had been used as underlay, among the story’s in these papers was one about my 2nd Great Grandfather David Addenbrooke who at the time owned the Largest manufacturer of wood fired Stoves in Australia his manufacturing premise’s where in Melbourne Australia and he had just opened a new store in Perth Western Australia and the paper had done a story on him if this paper had not been found and read we would never have known this part of my family’s history this led to further research discovering many patents in his name he was apparently a precision instrument maker he Died in 1905 in Western Australia he was apparently a very sick man at this time and had gone home to England to see a Dr and was told to return to Australia for the benefit of the hotter climate his Death certificate lists his occupation as Manager for the Earl of Dudley we think this was an error and may have been his fathers occupation as I can find no mention of lands or property owned by the Earl of Dudley in Australia

  • pam emerson clarke

    May 10, 2014

    Yes, my parental grandmother( who l adored), HATED her photo being taken so we never had many photos of Grandma..But quite a few years later a cousin found a truly BEAUTIFUL photo of Grandma when she was a young lady..Plus wedding photos no one had ever seen.. We were happy to have at least a young photo of Milly xxx

  • Cathy Wydner

    May 10, 2014

    My mother died when I was 43. My sister gave me a small shoe box my mother had. One thing in it meant a lot to me. It was only an uneven square of yarn. The first granny square I had tried to crocheted, age 10.

  • Dan Hiestand

    May 11, 2014

    Very cool. Family heirlooms are powerful links to the past. Thank you for sharing!

  • Pauline

    May 11, 2014

    Interesting. I too gound many interesting items stored away in a top cupboard after the death of my mother. Cheque book butts and letters which showed costs of our family since early 1930’s – not 1858 but interesting just the same.

  • Louisa

    May 11, 2014

    I too am very lucky I am in the possession of my grand father photo album, not just one but 3. They came into my possession after my father died I had never seen them before we found them, and most pictures where strangers to me. I wanted so much to find out who these people where, and thanks to “My heritage ” I came in contact with several family members that recognised the people! I did not know them before “my heritage” ,so I am very grateful to all of you ! Further down the line more relatives emerged and even a man who had done an expansive search into my great grandmother about where she was from and her life threw the years ;At last I was able to put faces to the pictures and found out so much of my ancestors.And I had all the time a very nice picture of my great grandmother, who I had so much respect for. so Sorry I never got to talk to her

  • Pamela

    May 12, 2014

    Phillip Addenbrooke
    May 10th, 2014 – 00:35

    Phillip, perhaps the Earl of Dudley refers to a hotel?

  • Clark Schulze

    May 12, 2014

    I get really upset when I hear about estates where the old photos are auctioned off with the household contents and the descendants have to bid for their ancestor’s photos or they are lost to people who use them for decorations or resell them. I made an amazing discovery in my parent’s home. A passport type book that belonged to my great great grandfather who came from the Radeburg Germany before there was a Unified Germany and had to be signed and stamped in each town by the magistrate. This book shows me the towns he traveled through. My parents didn’t know what it was and didn’t really give it much importance. I got it translated.

  • Candace Edwards

    May 13, 2014

    What I have done to pass along my treasures to my grandchildren, is I found a lovely old trunk at a yard sale. We call it the treasure chest. I keep precious photos, jewelry, quilts and many other keepsakes in it, all to pass along when the time is right. I have also added written notes telling where and when I acquired each item and who the people in the photos are. I have even written a personal letter to each grandchild giving them encouragement and love for their future generations…

  • Sicco

    May 23, 2014

    My mother was looking for a swinging craddle for dolls she buys and dresses (making the dresses is her main interest.) She found one in a city not far from where I live and asked me to pick it up. They asked wether I knew someone specific and I didn’t. There was quite some interest from the owner but I had two whining kids in the car. Such is life.
    But. They contacted my parents again and they knew, it was my great grandfather! Turns out, his sisters played with the exact same craddle (different dolls..), one married into this family and there were also some pictures of this linage. My parents have since visited them a couple of times and photocopies have been shared.