Family History Moments: 'Orphan' on the doorstep

For some time now I have been serving in the family history center in our stake. One day last fall I came into the center and noticed a large cardboard box under the counter. When I asked about it, no one had been able to find out where it had come from. It was an "orphan" and had been left on our doorstep, as it were, with no note or explanation.

Being a curious sort, I started leafing through the contents. I realized what a treasure trove had surfaced: family group sheets that were completely filled out with all sorts of information, obituaries, old pictures, journals, and a 50th wedding anniversary notebook replete with names, addresses and phone numbers from that time. Stories from missionaries, stories of the exodus from Nauvoo were also part of the package.

I searched to find the latest name and then checked the Social Security Death Index. I found the couple, and they were both deceased. Then I started selecting names and making telephone calls. It was like throwing darts. On the fourth call I made a hit. The wife recognized some of the names from the husband's family. I asked if she would like to have the material for the cost of the postage to send it. She said she would be delighted to receive it.

The following is the text from the letter I received after sending the box:

"Sister Waddell:

"Thank you so much. The material you sent included many things, even pictures of my own father who died when I was a child, that I had never seen before. What a treasure box! We had Christmas in September this year.

"I will share these things with my family and pass same along. This represents thousands of hours of work and some materials which are not replaceable, original documents.

"Thank you, thank you."

Joann Waddell, Carlsbad, Calif.

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