MOULTON — It’s not unusual for people to just drop off donated items to Helpful Hands Thrift Store.
Owner Lana Terry admits she never knows what she is going to find in the boxes of donated items as she sorts through them.
But one item among others she found in a box two years ago is still a mystery she’d like to solve.
It’s apparently human ashes dating back more than 40 years ago.
“We were going through some boxes that had been dropped off and in the bottom of one of the boxes was this small urn, something that you might see on vanity to put jewelry in,” Terry said.
The small ceramic dish, decorated with painted flowers and a gold top is small enough to be held in the palm of your hand.
“It had writing on the bottom of it, a woman’s name, her birthday and her date of death,” Terry said. “My mother saw the writing on the bottom and said it was an urn containing someone ashes.”
Printed on the bottom of the urn is “Adelta Marie Lynn Garret, RIP 2-7-23, 7-23-73.”
Terry said she had the urn for a few months before she opened it.
“It had some kind hot glue around it, to seal it shut,” she said. “I guess I just had to see what was in it.”
She said the urn was sealed so tightly it had to be pried apart.
“It was creepy,” Terry said. “I put the cover back on it and put it under the counter, out of the way. I figured someone would realize they had put the urn in the box and come back and get it.”
That was two years ago, and Terry has not been able locate anyone who knows anything about the urn or the woman whose name is written on it.
Terry said she had no idea who dropped off the box of items containing the urn.
She hopes to find someone who may know something about Adelta Garret.
Moulton Police Chief Lyndon McWhorter said one issue in researching the name will make the search time consuming.
“There was no computer archive system back then,” McWhorter said. “Everything would have been hand written. The only way to find out who this person is and if there are any relatives is to follow the paper trail.”
He said one issue is not knowing where the woman lived or died.
Colbert County Coroner Carlton Utley said the Alabama Department of Public Health should have records of the death, if the woman is from Alabama and died in Alabama.
“We don’t know anything about who she was or who her family was,” Terry said. “I believe the person who had the urn probably died, and then someone cleaned out their house and didn’t know what was in the urn and just dropped off everything.
“Unless you looked at the bottom of the urn and saw the writing, you wouldn’t know what it had inside.”
Terry said she can’t help but think about the urn and who it belongs to.
“I hope someone will know something about this woman or her family,” Terry said.
Anyone with any information about the urn or the Garret family may call Terry at Helpful Hands Thrift Store on Court Street in Moulton at 256-621-2536.
“It’s a mystery I’m sure she wants answers to,” McWhorter said. “I’m sure an urn (with someone’s ashes) was the last thing she expected to find when she was going through that box. I know it would have been for me.”
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.