How I Accidentally Found An Ancestor On eBay

This is an example of what genealogists call serendipity.

We moved into our current house four years ago.  It was much bigger than our old house, and so had a lot of extra space to fill.  We had just had a baby, so we didn’t have much money to spend on artwork.  I decided to see just how cheaply I could fill the walls without resorting to ugly hotel-type stuff or posters from IKEA.  I also wanted to see if I could incorporate our family history into the decor in interesting ways (i.e. something other than antiques and/or a wall of ancestor photos).

I had one small hallway that especially cried out for something different.  I decided to find vintage postcards of places that my ancestors (or my husband’s) had lived.  I already had a few, and I searched eBay to find more.  The one above was one of my favorites.  It shows the old high school in Plymouth, Wisconsin, where my mother-in-law’s family has lived for generations.  I bought it for $6.99.  The listing said it was postmarked 1910, but it didn’t say what else was on the back.

A week or so went by, and the postcard arrived in the mail.  I ripped open the envelope, admired the vintage cheerleader, and then turned it over.

This is what I saw:

Could we arrange a game down there with the Waldo High School or second team, Friday night.  We would guarantee you a return game through our principal—we would want 4.00 and will give you the same when you come up.  Answer on the next train as we want a game for Friday.

Le Roy LaBudde–Ass’t Mgr. Plymouth High School B. B. Plymouth Wis.

LeRoy LaBudde sent the postcard.  LaBudde is my mother-in-law’s family’s name.  A quick search revealed that LeRoy was a collateral ancestor of hers.  Nearly 100 years after one of her relatives mailed this postcard, I’d bought it on eBay without having a clue who it was from.  What are the odds?

Freaky stuff like that happens all the time in genealogy.  It’s pretty cool.

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