Library Gazette

Hidden in Plain View

Monday, June 10, 2013 9:05 pm

This post falls into the category of- “Are you kidding me?” I really don’t know any other way to describe it.


Last week, my Student Assistant, Megan Blaney, pointed out a high school graduation program in a Bible for which she was constructing an archival box. The program was from a high school in Mooresville, NC, which got my interest because my mother’s family all lived in that town. The Mooresville High School program dated from 1926.

When I looked at the Bible itself, on the front flyleaf was the name, R. E. Brantley-my Great Grandfather. I have some of his letters from the 1880’s, so I recognized his signature.
Inside were four-leaf clovers, an embroidered bookmark with his initials and a pressed flower. I don’t know how Special Collections got my Great Grandfather’s Bible-but there it is. Does my family’s stuff follow me around? The funny thing is, my Great Grandfather’s Bible has been sitting in Preservation for several years and I’ve moved it around several times without noticing the owner’s name.

RE Brantley flyleaf

Inside the Mooresville High School program was the name of my Great Uncle, Wilson Brantley, who was a 1926 graduate. Wilson was my mother’s surrogate father after her Dad passed away at a young age, and the first in our family to attend college.


This is a photo of my Great Uncle Wilson Brantley, circa 1944 and my Great Grandfather, Robert E. Brantley.

wilson and papa

This whole thing made me realize how small the world is. You could be standing on the shore of Lake Lucerne in Switzerland, and run across a close friend.

9 Responses to “Hidden in Plain View”

  1. What a fantastic story! Honestly it feels like something one would read in a novel.

  2. My mom went to Mooresville High, and her family has lived in the area since the 1700s. I’m definitely passing this along!

  3. I love this post! Thanks for sharing and for making my day. I agree with Mary Beth, this sounds like something in a book!!

  4. What a great discovery and story! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Seriously, Craig, this is the seed of a novel: the story of a preservation librarian whose collection becomes self-aware and rises up against the humans.

    But what if Megan hadn’t noticed the graduation program? The bible would’ve been lost all over again. I love this kind of stuff!

  6. That’s awesome! Thank you for telling us about it. But then, how could you *not* tell people about something like that?

  7. Wow! That is amazing! You seriously have one of the coolest jobs in the world. I love finding old things, but finding something that belonged to your family in an unexpected place??? Even better!

  8. Craig,
    Anna Milholland of the ZSR Library staff and who has Mooresville roots (and is the daughter of my wife Cathy Mills’ first cousin) brought this to the attention of Cathy and me. Both of our large families — both sides for Cathy and my dad’s for me — are natives of the Mooresville area, grew up there, and graduated from Mooresville High. Though I can’t say I knew any of these graduates personally, the family names are very familiar. The grads would likely be 6 years older than my dad and the age of my older aunts and uncles (all deceased now).

    Would you mind if I notified Cindy Jacobs, the historian for the area and a close friend and classmate, that you have this? Cindy keeps up with all sorts of historical information about Mooresville, and has published a few pictorial histories of the town and its region, and of personalities of the area.


  9. Very cool – my husband grew up Mooresville as well as his mom! Very small word – very cool!! Husband is Tim A. Johnson and mom is Sylvia Humphrey Johnson. Husband’s grandmother opened a jewelry store downtown – her name was Evelyn Humphrey, married to C.G. Humphrey. They built a house there shortly after the 1920s depression.

    We donated a few things like the jewelry store’s cash register to the Mooresville Museum which has a Facebook page.
    Thanks for sharing, Craig.

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