19 May 2011, 6 Comments

Treasure Chest Thursday: Antique Store Find

Author: ancestordetective

The popular TV show American Pickers capitalizes on one of my favorite pastimes…treasure hunting. So, it’s Thursday and in the spring, summer, and fall, that usually means I am out in search of yard sales. But, alas, we have had a deluge so far today (and miserable weather in general so far this spring) and I’m not sure too many people will be setting up their treasures for me to pick through. So what’s a picker to do?

Go to an antique store, you say? Well that’s just what I did on Tuesday. I was in search of vintage sewing treasures and a large basket to help with my interpretation of Mary Davis, my alter ego that I portray as a Civil War reenactor. I recently discovered that she was an early milliner in Plymouth where I live, and I’m adding that skill to my repertoire. But I digress…

As I was scouring the treasures, I found a booklet called “The Family.”

The Family

I often feel the need to rescue documents such as these from antique stores, estate sales, yard sales, etc. That’s why I have a lot of organizing to do in my office. In this case, I bought the pamphlet because as an archivist I feel that it needs to either be in the hands of descendants or in an appropriate archives being preserved.

There is not a ton of information in this pamphlet, but it would still be a gold mine for any descendants who don’t have the information that was handwritten in here, probably by the mother, Essie Brooks Tower. The date of publication of the booklet is 1905, so much of what was written was entered after the fact and is subject to Essie’s memory and information passed on to her. So it is a secondary source that would need to be corroborated with primary documents.

Husband page

Wife page

Wife's Family page

Children page

I checked on Ancestry.com to see if there were any family trees already created on this family and I did find some. There was one listing a child, Lillian Irene Tower, born after Essie stopped filling in data in this family booklet. That listing has the best possibilities as the information is somewhat sourced and looks like it might have been added by a descendant who had personal knowledge of the family.


I am still undecided whether I should send this to an archives, perhaps in Charleston, Illinois, where Essie and her first child, Harold A. Tower, were born, or whether I should make it available to a descendant (possibly the one who created the tree on Ancestry). I’m torn because apparently someone in the descendant chain gave up the document at some point, as it did end up in an antique store in Livonia, Michigan. How it came to be there, I will never know. But, readers, should this wonderful, handwritten document go to a worthy descendant or to an appropriate archives? I’d like your opinions, so I am creating a survey.

I’m interested to hear what others have done when they’ve found treasures that don’t necessarily relate to their own family. Please comment here.

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