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1924 baptism certificate found in donated cabinet

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    A baptism certificate from 1924 was found in a donated piece of furniture.

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    The piece of furniture that held the rolled up baptism certificate. HUNTRE KEIP/TIMES NEWS

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    A baptism certificate from 1924 was found in a donated piece of furniture.

Published August 20. 2019 12:29PM


Volunteers at the Eldred Township Thrift Shop have seen peculiar donations, but one recent item has left them to solve a mystery.

Recently, a piece of furniture was donated to the nonprofit thrift shop. Per routine, volunteer Donna Deihl was checking the quality of the cabinet and to see if any personal belongings were left behind.

“Right away, I loved this piece of furniture. My grandmother used to have something like this. I made sure to look through it before we placed it in the furniture room because this will sell,” Deihl said.

Deihl opened the door of the cabinet and it was empty, but it was high enough to hang children’s clothing or scarves. She moved her hand around the top to feel for a place to hang a rod, but instead, she found a secret compartment.

The secret compartment, which can only be felt, held a baptism certificate from 1924.

The baptism certificate was inscribed to Florence Flora Smith, daughter of Spener and Minnie (Huber) Smith. Florence was baptized at the Evangelical Lutheran Parsonage in Gilbert by the Rev. Oliver Franklin Ettwein on June 27, 1924.

The certificate is worn around the edges, but the color and writing is in excellent condition.

“It makes me wonder why a certificate like this would be hidden,” building manager Carey Krum said.

The thrift shop does not record the names of people making donations because of the large quantity of items given during the donation period.

When personal items are found with proper contact information, Deihl has called and returned the material to the owners.

“We do our utmost best to find the people,” Deihl said.

More recent items are easier to identify, but there are older personal mementos without owners at the thrift shop.

In the women’s clothing room, a small section is roped off containing a large bookshelf stacked with memorabilia left behind. Graduation photos, baby pictures, engraved Bibles and more are adorned with sticky notes asking if anyone is familiar with the items.

About every six weeks Deihl posts individual pictures of the items on the thrift shop’s Facebook page. There is some luck, but some items are still forgotten.

For inquiries on the baptism certificate, call the thrift shop’s office number at 610-895-4444.



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