Century-old Valentine finds a home

July 22, 2011
By

A long-lost, century-old Valentine card from Jamaica Plain that somehow turned up this year in England is in the mail once again, heading for the hands of the original addressee’s granddaughter.

“This really has been a great journey,” said Sarah Swain and Lyndon Berry, the English couple who discovered the card.

As the Gazette reported in May, the unsigned 1912 Valentine post card, addressed to a “Miss E. Lockwood” of 60 Glen Road (now 11 Rocky Nook Terrace), reappeared at an English flea market. Swain and Berry contacted the Gazette in the hopes of returning the Valentine to Lockwood’s descendants.

The Gazette discovered that the recipient was Elizabeth Lockwood, who was 6 years old at the time the card was mailed and died 40 years ago in Arizona.

The Gazette article sparked the interest of Liesa Healy-Miller, a professional genealogist who was born in JP and now lives in Framingham. Healy-Miller’s hobby is tracking “orphaned items”—family memorabilia such as photo albums and Bibles that were lost or sold long ago—and returning them to the owners’ descendants.

“In my case, I got interested in orphan items because my own mother possessed one for many years,” Healy-Miller said in an email. “When I was about 12 years old, she found an old gold watch fob on Centre Street in JP. It was embossed with the owner’s name and the insignia for the Phi Beta Kappa fraternity at Harvard.”

Healy-Miller said she recently was able to reunite that watch fob with its owner’s granddaughter, who lives in Vermont and still has “no idea how it ended up on a sidewalk in Jamaica Plain in the 1970s.”

Healy-Miller decided to put her skills to work on the Valentine. By tracing family trees and searching Facebook, she was able to identify Elizabeth’s granddaughter, Jennifer Enoch of Auburn, Calif. This month, the genealogist connected Enoch—who lives with her mother, Elizabeth’s daughter—with Swain and Berry.

“How amazing for the Valentine to turn up after all this time in England,” Enoch wrote in an email to the couple. “I would love to have the Valentine post card and would like to frame it for my granddaughter, Alauryn Ashlen Maloney, who was born in 2005, one hundred years after her great-great-grandmother Liz.”

Swain and Berry mailed the card to California last week. The couple is “so pleased that the card is making its way back to America after all these years,” they wrote in an email to Enoch. “If only it could talk and tell us about its journey.”

Enoch and the English couple have exchanged photos and family lore. It turns out that Elizabeth’s nickname was “Licky,” and that the extended family’s history ranges from slave-trade reparations to polar exploration. But it remains a mystery how the Valentine got to England.

Meanwhile, Healy-Miller has continued tracing Elizabeth’s history, including discovering her on the passenger list of a 1925 ship sailing from France to New York.

“What’s the name of the passenger listed directly above her name on the manifest? ‘Valentine,’” Healy-Miller said.