A WOMAN has discovered a dark family secret in a bundle of lost letters from the early 20th century.
Chelsey Brown, 28, of New York, finds diaries, letters and family heirlooms and matches them with the descendants of their backers.
But when she stumbled upon her latest find, she wasn’t sure if she should return it to the family after they uncovered a secret affair.
“The letters revealed an affair between a woman and her fiancé’s best friend,” she said.
“This affair happened during her engagement and probably in the early years of her marriage.
“I will say there is more that the letters revealed that I am not saying publicly in order to protect the family’s identity, but it was definitely a love triangle.
“It felt like a heavy weight. It is hard to explain. I carry that weight with any artifact I handle that reveals sensitive or emotional information about a family.”
Chelsey found the letters through a dealer in California with whom she regularly works to source artifacts.
After reading the letters, she was able to date them to between 1908 and 1911, and she was amazed at the details.
However, realizing the secret the letters could reveal, Chelsey did more work to track down the family history, and while she was still deciding what to do, she asked her 90,000 followers on her Instagram page for their opinion.
People were quick to come up with suggestions that could help her, while more than 5,000 people liked the clip.
One person wrote: “Maybe reach out to family and explain that the letters may contain sad/unknown information? So they can decide whether they want to read the letters.”
Another added: “You have been told or read a secret. The universe entrusts it to you. If someone told you a secret about themselves that would hurt others… I doubt you would tell. Nothing good can come of it. Do not say it.”
“I would give it. I feel like every family has secrets and that could explain so much. Maybe try to find a younger generation of this family that is a bit removed from this relationship if possible,” commented another user.
Chelsea is still on the fence.
She said: “I’m still deciding what I want to do with these letters, but from what I know about the family, what I’ve found on myheritage.com, I’m leaning towards no.
“I really think it would do more harm than good and my mission with these heirloom returns is to give families a piece of their ancestry that doesn’t cause pain.
“With all the loving heirloom stories and returns I post on social media, I don’t think people realize that most of the work I do is emotionally difficult.
“A lot of the artifacts I work with are about affairs, death, family drama, scandal, etc. That’s the reality of working with heirlooms. Some of it is beautiful and some of it is painful. Because of that I decided to share it with my followers and it seemed like they found some value in it.”
Although Chelsey has been involved in many happy stories of people being reunited with objects from her family’s past, she has to make personal choices with each one.
I will say there is more than the letters revealed, it was definitely a love triangle
She said: “My mission is to bring these items back to the families unless I deem the items unsuitable to return to the families, for example love letters that are too graphic or letters that reveal information that would do more harm than good.
“In the end it’s my decision whether or not an item goes back to a family and I try to use my best judgement. Sometimes a family secret lives with just me – and I know it’s my burden to carry.
“My father is a genealogist and sometimes I use his opinion on certain things when it matters most. If I decide not to return an item (which is very rare) then I archive it to hopefully one day commemorate those people in some way.
“I return many ‘sad’ heirlooms, such as journals of sad accounts, obituaries, and war documentaries, but I am returning these items because I know they will help families heal, provide invaluable information for family trees, etc.
“There are just a few items that I don’t think were meant to be found and seen by family and I stumbled upon them by accident.”
Despite the difficulties of working with these artifacts, Chelsey loves learning more about the stories.
She said: “I’m honored to be given the title of today’s ‘Heirloom Hunter’ or ‘Heirloom Detective’ and my mission is to engage others to take up the same hobby again.
“Genealogy and history are fascinating and prove that there is magic behind the lives of average people.”
https://www.the-sun.com/lifestyle/5041015/discovered-dark-family-secret-old-letters/ In a stack of old letters I discovered a dark family secret