GILBERT, Arizona (KNXV) — A Gilbert woman took an unexpected trip to the past after buying a desk at Goodwill.
“My husband and I refurbish furniture, so we are always looking for rare pieces that we can flip and sell,” said Jenna Franzoy.
That’s exactly what she found shopping at a Mesa Goodwill, near Val Vista Drive and Southern Avenue.
“It was an antique-looking desk, it had all these cool-looking drawers,” said Franzoy.
She said she almost didn’t buy it. But after seeing a crowd form around the desk, she decided she had to have it.
Little did she know the $20 desk had a secret far more valuable.
“I had already sanded it, painted it, everything,” said Franzoy.
Looking at her finished product, she decided to keep it and carry it to her bedroom.
But when Franzoy leaned it over, out popped two secret compartments filled with letters, poems and documents.
“I took a closer look and realized there was a lot of sentimental value, and I came to know about this woman named Martha,” said Franzoy.
Inside the desk, there were letters addressed to Martha McCollough, dating back more than a century.
“Who knows how long it’s been in there,” said Franzoy.
Goodwill didn’t know who donated the desk, but Franzoy knew she had to find the McCollough family.
“I went to a Facebook group called Go Gilbert, and I honestly did not think I would find her or him, whoever I was looking for,” said Franzoy.
People on the page chipped in to help, hoping to solve the mystery.
Within three hours, the group helped connect Franzoy with Shirly Knight, formerly McCollough, who lives in Mesa.
“She’s my grandmother,” said Knight.
She told ABC15 her grandma passed away 40 years ago. The documents would have been written and received when Knight’s grandma was a young adult.
“It’s kind of get to know her better, she’s been gone a long time,” said Knight. “It’s a way to reconnect with her as maybe she was in the past,”
On Friday, she got to see everything that was found inside the desk for the first time, even spotting her dad and some family history in old newspaper clippings.
“My grandmother and her husband farmed in Gilbert,” said Knight. “She lived there most of her life. My father was born there on the farm, and I was raised also on the farm.”
The pictures and documents serve as a window into the early to mid-1900s.
“I think it’s probably been hidden for a long time,” said Knight. “I just appreciate that she took the time and effort to connect with someone in our family and get them back to us.”
She told ABC15 she’s excited to share everything with her family. Franzoy tried to give back the desk, but Knight insisted she keep it.
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