Of course, unlike back in the day when genealogical research was difficult and time consuming, these days, there are many, many online tools available to assist a person in hereditary studies. Some, such as www.usgenweb.org, are free; while others, such as www.ancestry.com, are fee-based platforms. But whichever way one chooses to go in his or her research, as the field of genealogy continues to grow and expand, more and more of each type of resource are continually coming online.
One of the newest of these is www.newspapers.com, which now purports to be the world’s largest online newspaper database. With over 19,600 newspapers from the 1700s–2000s archived, and with literally millions of additional pages being added every month, it has helped to revolutionize the field of genealogical studies by adding a rich new layer of records to family history research.
It also provides a goldmine of articles for those, such as me, who communicate for a living. Here is one such example, as found in Jenny Ashcraft’s recent November 12, 2020 blog post titled “Uncovering Hidden Treasures” on the official www.newspapers.com blog site…
“Who doesn’t love a good hidden treasure story? The newspapers are filled with stories of ordinary people who uncover extraordinary treasures in the most unusual places. Whether found in a hidden secret compartment or buried in the ground, these stories might leave you wondering if there is a hidden treasure in your house! Here are a few fun treasure stories we’ve uncovered.
In 1924, the owner of a house built in 1860 made plans to demolish it. The house was originally owned by a bank president. During the demolition, workers found a concealed compartment containing $100,000 in gold coins. That is equivalent to $1.5 million today!
In 1928, George Maher invented a metal detector. While scanning the ground on a farm near Natchez, Mississippi, he discovered a cache of coins buried two feet deep. The money was buried shortly before the fall of Vicksburg during the Civil War. Maher’s find validated his invention and allowed him to deposit more than $1,000 in the bank.
In 1986, two workmen found a hidden room on the third floor of a 140-year old Italianate home overlooking Cayuga Lake in New York. The door to the room didn’t have a handle and was disguised by wood paneling matching the room. A desk and shelves further guarded the doorway. Once inside the secret room, the men discovered three steamer trunks filled with 19th-century toys, historical items, and at least $10,000 in coins.
In 1935, after the death of an Oklahoma pioneer, his four daughters inherited his valuable estate. An attorney representing the daughters visited a farm owned by the pioneer to take an inventory. An aged caretaker told the attorney that additional valuables were hidden in an old office building in Wheeling, West Virginia. The treasure, he said, dated back to the Kings of France.
Traveling to West Virginia, the attorney discovered a partition and false fireplace inside the office building. He removed them and found a dim passageway to an attic where he discovered three brass chests filled with a fortune in gold and silver.
The treasure once belonged to Louis S. Delaplaine, the U.S. consul in British Guiana. Delaplaine kept a luxurious apartment in the West Virginia office building. The discovery added to the valuable estate inherited by the four daughters who were related to Delaplaine by marriage. They also received an island in Lake Huron gifted to Delaplaine by Queen Victoria.
Not all treasure is money. In 1929, a man was examining the contents of an old wooden chest found in the attic of a home in Westport, Connecticut, when he came upon a rare daguerreotype. Further examination revealed the image was that of Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln.
Another historical treasure was discovered in 1998 by C. P. Weaver. She had papers and documents passed down through her family stored in her attic. After seeing the movie Glory about a troop of Black Civil War soldiers, it stirred something in Weaver’s memory. She went to the attic and retrieved the stash of papers and discovered the fragile diary of Union Col. Nathan W. Daniels, commander of the Second Louisiana Native Guards, one of the first Black regiments organized in the Civil War. The diary was eventually published and provided priceless historical understanding.
In 1998, a Florida couple bought a painting at the thrift store for $1.99. The painting turned out to be an original by Auguste Rodin, sculptor of the masterpiece, The Thinker. Their $2 investment was valued at $14,000 and earned them an invitation to appear on an episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show about uncovered hidden treasures.”
The post concludes with this invitation: “Have you ever discovered a hidden treasure? Tell us about it in the comments below, and search Newspapers.com for many more treasure stories.”
At this writing (four days after the post), 48 people have responded, with many of these sharing similar personal stories of found treasure.
As I read these amazing stories, I could not help but think of the story Jesus once told in the 16th chapter of the New Testament Gospel of Matthew. Crouched in the midst of far more famous parables such as that of the Sower (who went forth to sow), the Wheat and the Tares, and the Mustard Seed, among others, is this little gem relayed in one single verse (v. 44): “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”
He followed that up immediately with a similar parable in verses 45-46: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”
Jesus’ point in these two parables is that the Christian life can be compared to a great treasure of immeasurable worth, the discovery of which compels all those who find it to renounce everything else in life, and pursue it with complete abandon.
And He was right! The world has its share of treasures, to be sure. But none of these even begin to compare to the value of the treasure of Heaven! Nor can the happiness that accompanies their fleeting custody compare to the everlasting joy of possessing a home in Heaven, where the very streets themselves are paved in purest gold!
Besides, as Jim Elliot once famously reminded us, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose!”
Have you made this great discovery? If not, I hope you soon do! Of course, if you have found this immense treasure, then my final question is this: “How do you now plan to respond?!”
BLOG POST: Jenny Ashcraft, “Uncovering Hidden Treasures” at https://blog.newspapers.com/uncovering-hidden-treasure/, November 12,2020.
JIM ELLIOT QUOTE: https://www.kevinhalloran.net/jim-elliot-quote-he-is-no-fool/.