KIRKLAND, Wash. -- It looked like just another box of worthless papers when an anonymous donor dropped it off at a Kirkland thrift shop. But soon, workers realized they had a pristine record of U.S. Civil War on their hands; 15 perfectly intact letters written by, what store workers are convinced, a lonely soldier.
"Certainly, it sounds like love letters when you read them," said Harriet Stambaugh, a volunteer at the Eastside Community Aid Thrift shop.
Harriet started out looking for names of battles or generals in the letters that might make them more valuable to collectors. But the more she read, the more she began to think about the ancestors of the soldier and less about a profit. By the time she was done with a little modern research, she had tracked down a great nephew of soldier M.F. Snavely in a small town in Iowa. The letters were soon in the mail.
Stambaugh and her boss, Jody Orbits, say it was the right thing to do and they are now in touch with the Snavely family and are considering their next search; for the family of the woman those letters were written to.