ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A hidden piece of history. An Albuquerque man is continuing his search for the owners of a painting that hid an unexpected treasure trove.
He had no idea his thrift store purchase would send him on a journey back in time.
“I thought somebody donated this picture and didn’t have any idea that this was inside,” said Greg Nelson, who bought the painting.
When this painting caught Nelson’s eye last month, he didn’t know that it had a big story to tell.
Nelson spent $1.99 on the small canvas at the Goodwill off of Paseo del Norte thinking it would fit perfectly in the entrance of his home. But when he took it out to clean the glass, he found something he was not expecting.
“There was this original letter which is in amazingly good shape,” said Nelson.
A letter dating back to 1949, along with other military documents, including two large clippings from the Air Force newspaper, and a document containing colonel rankings that were hidden between the backing frame and the painting.
The letter was addressed to one man.
“Dear Colonel Scattergood, I noticed in recent press dispatches announcement of your promotion to the permanent grade of colonel. Please accept my congratulations upon your selection,” said Nelson reading the letter.
What struck Nelson, in particular, is the personal nature of the letter. That motivated him to track down the colonel’s family knowing the compliments it carries makes it valuable.
“A colonel getting a letter from a major general is somewhat unusual. So it probably reflects some sort of level of their own personal relationship,” said Nelson.
Nelson took to social media hoping to find out who Colonel Edgar Scattergood and Major General Earle Partridge are so he can return these precious memories to their rightful owner.
“When you find something in there and it’s within your ability to return them, I think you should. My $1.99 is well worth the little water color that I purchased,” said Nelson.
Facebook comments helped connect Nelson with the New Mexico Department of Veterans’ Services. Deputy Secretary Alan Martinez says he has tracked down who he believes to be Scattergood’s nephew. He says he has contacted him through Facebook.
According to the Department of Veterans’ Services, there is an Edgar Scattergood buried at the Santa Fe National Cemetery.
Martinez says he believes that after Scattergood’s wife passed away, family members must have accidentally donated the painting to Goodwill without realizing there were letters inside.
KRQE News 13 checked with the Goodwill location where the painting was found, but unfortunately, management said they do not know who dropped off the painting or when it was donated.