The suitcase held one photo album.

It was the afternoon on Sunday before I noticed the shared post in a Wayne County, North Carolina, Facebook group:

By then, there were thousands of comments and further shares to genealogy groups — did anyone know this family? could anyone help? The finder had attached several photos from the scrapbook, and I gasped. “Josephine” was Josephine Artis Sherrod, who was both my grandmother’s great-aunt and cousin, and who presided until nearly her 101st birthday over a block of Viola Street called Sherrod Village. “Allister” was Alliner Sherrod Davis Randall, her eldest daughter.

The next few hours were an anxious scramble to contact the finder. Finally, we connected through intermediaries and, long story short, Cousin Alliner’s scrapbook has begun its journey home. I plan to scan all its photos and documents, upload them to cloud storage so they’re available to all family members, and return the original items to one of Aunt Josephine Sherrod’s direct descendants in Wilson. (And, of course, share the highlights with you!)

Josephine Artis Sherrod (1887-1988), probably 1950s.

My deep gratitude goes to Rita Elsner, who followed her gut to save these priceless documents and then to track down someone connected to them and preserve them from further damage by drying them carefully and placing them in archival sleeves. Her stewardship is exemplary.


  1. What an amazing story! And what a treasure to the family and community! So glad she saved the suitcase and so glad you connected! It is amazing what Facebook posts can bring.

    Someone shared a turn of the century photo with her great grandmother on the porch in our community facebook group. I commented that her great grandmother and my great grandmother were sisters! We connected pre-covid and she came with a rubbermaid tub of family photos including two photos of my great grandmother. The only photo I had was a family portrait of five sisters and two brothers with no identification. Her photo had names and she had an additional photo of the two oldest sisters, her ancestor and mine! Such treasures!

  2. This is wonderful to read, and agree with the 3 above comments – I can’t add any better comments. 🙂

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