Website connects families with lost heirlooms, antiques - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Website connects families with lost heirlooms, antiques

A World War I Army poster the Caldwells found on (File/FOX Carolina) A World War I Army poster the Caldwells found on (File/FOX Carolina)
ANDERSON, SC (FOX Carolina) -

There's a new way to find relics that may have been lost in translation,  helping connect antiques sold at flea markets with someone else's past.

A website called combines those antiques with genealogy in a way that its founder has never seen before. Through the site, an Upstate family found a piece of its own history.

Tom Caldwell, of Anderson, discovered a World War I Army poster with his grandfather's name listed as a sergeant. The poster was ripped and stained, but its red, white and blue stayed bold through the years. 

"It was really exciting to get it, cause he [Tom Caldwell's grandfather] was really proud of his military service, course we all are," Tom Caldwell said. "Just to see his name in something from that long ago that was still in existence was really great."

Tom Caldwell is part of a military family. He was a Marine, three of his brothers served in the military, and his father, John W. Caldwell, was a sailor.

It was Tom's wife who noticed his grandfather, John P. Caldwell's, name on the poster listed on He was listed as a sergeant in the First South Carolina Infantry, Company D.

Tom Caldwell said they connected with Joy Shivar, who is the founder of, to buy the poster.

SLIDESHOW: Families find heirlooms, antiques online

Shivar started the website in the spring of 2011 and has been adding "inventory" for six years. She has antique items and documents that she and other antique dealers had been buying to sell.

She said she knew the names etched on silver, pictures and yearbooks she had traded over time had relatives somewhere out there - and she wanted to find their owners.

Shivar admitted that it may be tedious, but, "there's a lot of love involved. It's exciting... when we make a match, it's worth the work."

Shivar said in this Anderson family's match, it was John W. Caldwell who was most excited.

John W. Caldwell, 85, said the piece is just another in the puzzle of his dad's military career. Sgt. John P. Caldwell's rifle, bugle and first-aid kit rest behind glass at the Anderson County Museum, donated by his son.

"Because what happens after time, people come into the family that don't know people and throw stuff away, and it's lost forever to the family. This is a way of preserving the history," said John W. Caldwell, explaining why he donated the items.

That's exactly why Shiver began the website. She was an antique dealer for 12 years and saw many personal items. She said they were things she would have wanted if they belonged to her long-passed relatives.

Shivar called the items, "orphaned heirlooms," and that the website offers "antique hunting, in the family tree." picks up where the genealogy websites end.

"If this was one of your ancestors, this would be more important of an item to be in your family than a Picasso or anything else," Shivar said.

The pieces may not always be pricey, but for the Caldwells, they help to tell their family's story, which helps to tell their own.

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