In 1986, Richard Payton came into possession of an old chest, found in a home in North Hollywood, where the owner had passed away. Inside, he found a vintage wedding dress and shoes from 1934, photos, letters, and an old Bible.
Payton's cousin, K.C. Thompson, tried on the dress. It fit perfectly. Payton gave it to her and she wore it several years later on her own wedding day. Curious, she began researching the dress's original owner. She identified that first bride as Ellen Prince, born in Alpena County, Michigan, in 1912.
“When I wore it, I got the sense that this woman didn’t want to be forgotten,” Thompson told the Alpena News in March. “She wanted to go home. I feel like I am the custodian of her life. I’m so curious to know more about her, and I hope the people in Alpena will help me return Ellen home. That is where I believe she belongs, at home with family. All of these family heirlooms belong with her family.”
The heirlooms were priceless to her great-nephew, George Light, who was thrilled to receive them -- minus the wedding dress, which he agreed Thompson should keep. (She hopes to eventually donate it to a museum in the Alpena area.) He remembers Prince as a committed teacher, active in her church, who loved to host her family at Christmastime.
“Ellen may not have been a blood relative of mine, but she is special to me, so getting these things to George was important,” Thompson told the newspaper recently.
Ellen Prince had no descendants -- she never had children. But her life, her story and her memory are being remembered, honoured and preserved -- by her extended family, and by a curious stranger with an unusual connection to her.
Never doubt the impact your life can have on others, even when you are childless!
Thanks to Kathleen Guthrie Woods of 52 Nudges and Life Without Baby for sharing this story on social media! (K.C. Thompson is Kathleen's relative!) Kathleen has a book coming out later this month called "The Mother of All Dilemmas." I have already pre-ordered a copy for my phone's Kindle app and can't wait to read it!
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.