Thrift Store Returns A 149-Year-Old Marriage Certificate To The Family

The birth certificate was hidden in a painting that’d been donated to the thrift store.

You never quite know what you’re going to find when you work at a thrift store. People bring in items, feeling as if they no longer have a need for them but upon further inspection, something amazing may be hidden in the mix.

That is what happened at a thrift store in North Carolina, and things took a twist that brought one person to tears. The Hope Chest thrift store received a painting that was donated, and when they inspected it, they found a 149-year-old birth certificate.

Posted by Hope Harbor Home on Tuesday, July 27, 2021

That thrift store helps to fund a domestic violence program that operates in the local area. When they found the certificate, they realized that it belonged to someone, so they found Irene Cornish and arranged to return it.

The cameras were rolling when Irene received her great-grandparent’s marriage certificate. She was in tears because the old heirloom was back in the family once again.

The assistant manager of the thrift shop, Pam Phelps, said to WECT that she was going to clean the back of the frame and needed to take it apart.

When she took the back off, she found the certificate, which said: “William Deworth and Katey Havey married in 1872 in New Jersey.”

It took some searching on Facebook before they were able to find someone in the family. At first, they were looking on their own but then some others volunteered to help find someone in the family.

Photo: Picryl/Library of Congress

Genealogist Connie Knox is one who assisted. She said that she had enough to begin a search, including the name, place, and date. She was able to find Cordish on

Within weeks, Cornish had come to North Carolina from New York to see the certificate and meet those who were responsible for connecting her with it again. She spoke about how grateful she was, which is why she came there in person.

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