LeRoy Johnson holds the photo of the farm where he grew up near Canton. Deb and Myron Hirsch found it at a yard sale in Wisconsin. SUBMITTED PHOTO
LeRoy Johnson holds the photo of the farm where he grew up near Canton. Deb and Myron Hirsch found it at a yard sale in Wisconsin. SUBMITTED PHOTO
When Deb and Myron Hirsch stopped by chance at a Wisconsin yard sale in early July, a remarkable set of coincidences snapped into place.
Garage sales were not the reason the Hirschs were heading east. The couple hails from rural Mabel and were simply passing through West Salem on the way to a birthday party in Hatfield. Myron purchased a couple of eight-inch by 10-inch picture frames, and they continued on.
One of the frames contained a black and white aerial photo of a farm, Deb said.
“We live on a farm,” she added. “I looked at it and laughed, 'Wouldn't it be cool if we knew whose farm it was?' The next morning I removed the photo from the frame. When I opened up the back, there was a check that was drawn on the Canton State Bank. Being from Mabel I thought, what are the odds?”
The $20 check had never been cashed. It was signed by a man named Lee M. Johnson, dated Aug. 5, 1963, made out to a person whose first name was Delone.
Deb first called Donna Johnson, the librarian from Mabel. She reported that Lee Johnson had passed away years ago, but had a son named LeRoy living in the Rushford area.
“So I called him,” Deb continued.
After asking him if he knew someone named Delone, he answered, “Yeah, that's my sister.”
He also explained where his family farm was. Coincidentally, Deb knew exactly where the farm he was talking about was located.
“I had physically been in that farm house,” she added.
Small trees in the photo are now much larger and the home has been added on to, but when Deb looked up the address on Google Earth, it was a match for the photo.
LeRoy explained that Aug. 5 is Delone's birthday. She had moved to Chicago after graduating from high school and has never returned to the area.
There are plenty of coincidences in this story - Donna Johnson and LeRoy Johnson both graduated in 1946, he from Canton and she from Mabel High School.
LeRoy recalled planting the small trees in the picture and added, “I was just there (the home farm) last week. The funny thing is, they are harvesting those trees, probably today.”
The farm remains in the Johnson family, now owned by one of Delone’s and LeRoy’s nephews.
Myron and Deb insisted on giving the photo to the Rushford man.
“My message is, people need to be sure they write some information on the back of photographs,” Deb concluded. “I think that's pretty important as a way to preserve history. I'm glad that we made his day. It was fun.”