The Carnival of Genealogy is having a Show and Tell submission, so I thought I'd write an article.
Every few days I comb ebay for anything from Bridgeton, NJ. In May 2006 I and rescued tons of letters, photos, and other documents belonging to my distant cousin [5c2r] Marjorie Reeves Fithian. She died unmarried about 7 years before I was born. The ephemera belonged to several generations of her family as her aunts and uncles on her father's side did not have any surviving heirs. It all ended with her and ended up at a flea market in PA in the 1970's. A lady bought them and hung on to them until placing them on ebay in 2006.
i have a 10th cousin who also combs auctions in person down in South Jersey. I told him about the Marjorie rescue because Marjorie's 3rd great grandmother was my 5th great grandmother's sister. My 5th great grandparents belonged to my 10th cousin's church. Six months later, my cousin calls me up and told me he found another batch of goodies belonging to Marjorie and picked it up for me.
A few months after that, I find that a genealogy buddy of mine picked up a bible at an antique store that would have belonged to Marjorie's grandparents. She because my buddy saw a name she recognized and thought it might be her line, but it wasn't. She gave me the bible for cost + shipping. It's now in a firesafe in my house.
I visited with Marjorie's estate executor, also a distant cousin of mine, and he told me that what happened is that the city started selling the contents of her house before he was able to put a stop to all of it. There are more details involved in this matter, but in the interest of privacy, I am choosing to omit them.
Marjorie labeled all of her photos. Just the other week I won another one of her belongings on ebay. This time it was a postcard from 1909 that she labeled upon receiving, so now I was able to go through and pick her cousin Sarah and aunt Lizzie out of all of the family group shots. A historical collector raised the bid pretty high because it was of a steamship, but I was not going to let Sarah and Lizzie's identity get away.
I scanned in all of her photos and labeled what I could and made prints via snapfish and have them sorted in an album. I've been sharing them on flickr with Marjorie's cousin's children (also cousins of mine). I have a 5 shelf bookcase filled with archival boxes of Marjorie's ephemera in archival sleeves. From the letters I've read, she seemed like a nice, kind lady who visited her family and took the time to label all of her photos even though she did not have any descendants.