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Stumbling Across A Long-Lost Family Heirloom on eBay
Never underestimate the power of a Google search!
I never thought I would find a family heirloom for sale on eBay.
The other day, I was working on a different article. The topic was my great-great-grandfather, John B.M. Lovejoy, who co-owned a carriage-making company in northern Maine with his brothers between 1880-1910, back when horses dominated the streets.
On a whim, I typed "Lovejoy carriagemakers Maine" in Google. I knew the chances were low, but I thought if I was lucky that maybe somebody posted a picture of an antique Lovejoy carriage or a picture of their store. You never know.
Nobody posted any pictures, but what came up was a thousand times better. Somebody was selling two “Antique Journals” from N. Chesterville, Maine, written by Rufus N. Lovejoy, Carriage Manufacturer covering 1880 to 1908. Rufus N. Lovejoy was one of my great-great-grandfather's brothers and a co-owner of their carriage-making company!
The eBay seller wrote that the journals have over 400 pages of handwritten personal and business accounts for the Lovejoy carriage-making company and Rufus Lovejoy. I knew my great-great-grandfather had to be all over those journals.
I didn't even know these journals existed — thirty years of family history, hundreds of pages, all written in my ancestor's hand over a century ago. That kind of record, if it survives time, usually gets lost in the shadows of a distant relative's attic for decades. Or worse, discarded. So, the fact that this heirloom survived the test of time, that it's in remarkable condition, and somebody was selling it on eBay? And I just happened to stumble across it?! It didn't and still doesn't feel real. I can hardly contain my excitement imagining the family secrets hidden in those pages.
I won't have to imagine much longer. The journals are on their way.
Tip: Never underestimate the power of a Google search! Especially today, where more and more people are sharing their finds and resources (family bibles, photographs, stories), there’s a chance you might stumble across something ground-breaking in your genealogical research. I’d recommend a simple search: First name, last name, state your ancestor was from, and a unique keyword about them. For example, “John Lovejoy Maine carriage maker.” See what happens!
This post inspired a Reddit post, which led to an incredible response from the genealogy community. Fellow genealogists shared their stories about spontaneous discoveries, whether on eBay, in-person auctions, or other places online, and they’re so much fun to read and comment on. If you want to read some remarkable stories, take a look at the post! Link:
Jack Palmer is a History and Psychology double-major at Duke University. I’ve done genealogy research since I was 10 and love writing about it for family, friends, and anybody else who might enjoy a blast from the past.
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