Another of my hobbies is shopping at garage sales and estate sales. It’s fun to find little gizmos to fix up, clean up, and reuse. I especially like technology and mechanical items. Most people have no idea what many of these items are. That means no one else buys them. They are also very cheap, on the order of 25 cents for items that can retail for $10 to $50.
Sometimes I come across items of genealogical interest. I once bought a stack of hard-cover genealogy books for 50 cents each. Perhaps saddest are the old portraits of unnamed and unknown ancestors that probably graced many a farm house.
Today at an estate sale I noticed a banker’s box on the top shelf marked “Genealogy.” I thought boy oh boy, what treasures can I save from destruction and loss to hopefully find a better home. I anxiously brought the box down, set it carefully on another box, and lifted the cover. Oh no! Shreds upon shreds of paper, as if the contents had been through a paper shredder. A family of mice had at one time made their home in this box.
All of it ruined. Hand-written notes, Xeroxed copies of records and certificates. Nothing but strips and fragments. Nothing salvageable. It was obviously someone’s careful work from the time before computers, when everything was done by hand.
The lesson: Store your genealogical paperwork in rodent-proof containers. Avoid attics and garages.