Family history moments: Salvaged treasure

Twenty-five years of searching for family history records in Austria, Czechoslovakia and Romania had become tedious and costly. In particular, I had almost given up hope of finding the marriage record for my maternal great-grandparents, Thomas Palecek and Marie Levorova.

My children contributed, when they could, to our family genealogy fund. However, shortly before my husband passed away two years ago he asked that I not ask our children for any more money. They were struggling through university and raising young families. He did not want to burden them financially. He promised that if I continued our family history work I would be guided.I have kept this promise and worked diligently. As I am a widow, my finances are limited; I did not know how I could continue my research.

A family visit to an aunt had been planned for June 12, 1993. When I called my aunt to let her know we were coming I was in for a surprise.

The previous week one of her uncles had come for a visit and left with her an old suitcase. Several years previously, I had corresponded with this very uncle and asked for assistance but to no avail. After he had left, she had examined its contents and decided it was just a lot of old papers and pictures of people she didn't recognize. She proceeded to tear up the documents and pictures.

My aunt received a phone call from her son, and he was shocked to hear that she had just thrown all that "junk" away. He knew that I was coming for a visit and that I was interested in genealogy. He drove to her house right away and salvaged what he could from the garbage.

As my sister and I pieced all the torn documents back together we were elated when we found that not one piece was missing. Tears welled up in my eyes as the first document we pieced back together was the marriage certificate of our great-grandparents in Lenesice, Louny, Austria, in 1894. Numerous other documents, including birth, marriage and naturalization certificates, tax records, visa applications, obituaries, photographs, old letters and post cards were all a welcome and overwhelming sight!

The priceless contents of the suitcase will enable me to extend our family tree back several more generations. All this time these documents had been only a few hundred miles away. - Beverly A. Francis, Lethbridge 10th Ward, Lethbridge Alberta Stake

(Another in a series of "Family History Moments." Illustration by Deseret News artist Reed McGregor.)

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