Woman discovers her long-lost family after buying old photo album at market
In a rare moment for the internet, a woman used it to spread some goodwill – and even discovered some long-lost relatives.
Chelsey Brown works as an interior designer and loves trawling old antique markets for new items – but she’s not only looking for furniture and artwork to purchase.
The 28-year-old enjoys picking up family heirlooms and tracking down their living relatives to return the long-lost items.
So it wasn’t unusual for her to pick up a second-hand photo album at a local market in New York, filled with summer holiday snaps from 1927.
But her efforts to trace the previous owner’s descendants left her shocked – after discovering that her relatives were pictured inside.
After initially struggling to find any family ties to the quaint-looking photo album which only contained first names, Chelsey enlisted her genealogist dad’s help.
Together the pair uncovered an incredible coincidence in a 1930’s census which revealed that those pictured in the photos were their distant relations – helping them to link up with Chelsey’s distant cousins, four to six times removed.
“I traced the album back a few weeks ago using census records and I saw that the family member I was returning the album to had similar DNA in common with,” Chelsey said.
“It’s a VERY distant relation, but still cool, and now we stay in touch over email.”
Unfortunately, Chelsey found that the man who made the album was the son of some of the people pictured but he had died in 2003.
However, she was able to connect with her distant cousin and posted her the album filled with snaps.
Chelsey has sent back around 200 antiques to the closest family member alive after successfully tracking them down.
She often tracks down the former owner’s descendants by scrolling through public family trees on Ancestry.com.
Chelsey added: “My dad is a genealogist and growing up I saw him help families from around the world for free, not only help them with finding heritage but also help them fill in the missing pieces of their family history.
“Because I am an interior decorator, I thrift often and it always broke my heart seeing a family heirloom in some box at the flea market instead of with its rightful family.
“One day I just decided to use what I know of genealogy, what my dad taught me, and to use it to trace the items that I find at thrifts and flea markets back. Once I started I never stopped.
“I try and stay in contact with as many people I’ve returned heirlooms to as possible!”
Despite some of the heirlooms costing hundreds to buy and post, she never asks for a cent from the family members she returns the items to.
Chelsea said: “I spend my own money on this and postage and never ask for repayment from families.
“I have spent well over $1,000 as NYC flea markets are a bit expensive. I’ve also spent hundreds on postage.”