Gina Teliho decided that her home was in need of renovations. Built in 1935, the house was a fixer-upper, and she was prepared to roll up her sleeves and get the job done. However, as she was repairing her cracked ceiling, she found a lot more than she bargained for: a ton of love letters, dating back to 1915 — making them a century old.
“We cut the ceiling out because it was cracked and we finally decided to fix it,” Gina, 40, told ABC News. “We live in a historic neighborhood in the Buckhead community of Atlanta, where most homes were constructed in the 1920s and 1930s, so this was just another necessary renovation that needed to be done.”
Even though the house is old, the letters were older: they dated back to two decades before the house was even built, with the addresses from Illinois to Pennsylvania, but always to Mrs. N. J. Arnold. At first, Gina was so overwhelmed by the renovations that needed to be done, so she set them aside for the time being.
“I came across them again recently and really started reading through them, and I became determined to find the family and pass them on,” she told ABC News. “They felt like real treasures to me, but they didn’t belong to me nor to my family. They were clearly very meaningful to the family who carried them to Georgia from Pennsylvania, so I went on a mission to find the descendants.”
After all, it’s not every day you find years worth of century-old love! Carol decided to take to Facebook to ask her friends if they may have any leads. “I initially posted on my personal page, stating that the main letter was postmarked 1915 in Fairbury, Illinois,” she said. “Many friends, including one who had lived in Illinois, shared on their pages, and I was contacted by a historian from Fairbury who ‘loves a good mystery’ and helped me with the family genealogy.”
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And after some good old-fashioned sleuthing, Gina found what she was looking for. “I found a Paul T. Arnold who owned my house in 1947,” she told ABC News. “I then posted on a local Buckhead Facebook page, seeking help and any information. The response I got just blew me away! So many people offered ideas, suggestions, tagged others, or simply loved what I was doing and expressed their support. I never could have imagined the fascination the community would have for this story.”
All of this led her to 65-year-old Kelly Arnold, the grandson of Paul T. Arnold and the great-grandson of Norman T. Arnold, the latter of whom wrote the letters to his wife, Hannah. And Kelly lived only 20 miles away from her all this time! “When I called him I think I caught him off guard,” Gina said. “He was so tickled when I told him that all of Buckhead was looking for him!”
Last week, the pair met, and Gina was able to return the letters to the rightful owner. “It’s been a lot of fun,” Kelly told ABC News. “This whole thing started less than a week ago and it’s been a whirlwind. I was really impressed with her persistence and the amount of time she put into it.”
Although Gina is sad to have to let the letters go, she’s thrilled they were given to their rightful owner. “I feel like it’s a part of history,” she told ABC News.“The neighborhood that we live in is part of the National Historic Registry, so it makes me wonder what else the house is hiding. What else are its secrets? I feel like I found a true treasure, it just wasn’t mine.”
(Image via Facebook.)