In my last blog post, My New Lett Family Portrait Gallery!, I wrote about a distant cousin who showed up at my house with a great collection of family portraits and basically gave them to me. I was so enthused when she gave them to me, it took days for the thought to settle into my brain that this was real. I was on cloud nine. HOWEVER, I never got comfortable with the idea that the portraits were really mine. I did not hang them. The only thing I did was make nice copies for myself. I had a feeling it was too good to be true...and it was.
|My son Connor with one of the pictures|
After about two weeks, I got an email from the distant cousin. She was basically asking me to return the photos, that her brother was upset that she had given them away without consulting him. Keep in mind, the photos were in storage for 13 years, and now everyone wants them. So, here is where I will teach you a little genealogy lesson...I gave them back to her, no questions asked. It was hard to do, but I did it.
The lesson here is that there is a lot of karma with genealogy. We all know that possession is 9/10's of the law so I probably could have kept the portraits legally. They were mine, fair and square, but I gave them back willingly. I was totally happy that I got to see them to start with, even better that I had a couple weeks with them to look at them and make nice copies.
I can promise you that my taking the high road will pay off eventually. That side of the family will probably hear that I am a pretty nice guy. Maybe there are other photos out there, maybe a Bible or some other relict, that I will get access to one day. If I were a jerk about it, I would never have any chance of getting in good with them again. No sense in cutting my nose off to spite my face. There was also no sense in causing a rift between this cousin and her brother. (I am sure our ancestors would have disapproved if I let that happen).
In a way, the whole experience was a blessing. I got to see some great photos. My kids became involved with genealogy for the first time, getting to see the pictures and to ask questions about them. My son was psyched with helping me take photos of them, even wanting to pose with them himself. My daughter did not like them as much and she was glad to see them go. (She thought they smelled bad, as 100+ year old items from storage tend to do!)
Overall, I have no complaints. Now that they are gone, at least my daughter will come back into my office...since the air has cleared. Who knows, maybe the brother will think they smell bad too and send them back my way? Stranger things have happened.