The main airport in Belgium – at Brussels -- is 4,588 miles from Eufaula. Honesty obviously has no geographical limits.
A woman from Belgium recently returned an item she said had been taken, not by her but nevertheless in her presence, from Shorter Mansion 22 years ago.
Pam Snead, executive director of the Eufaula Heritage Association who oversees Shorter Mansion, saw a small package on her desk recently and wondered if she had ordered anything from Belgium since it was postmarked from there. When she finally got around to looking inside the bulky, yet smallish envelope, Snead was surprised at its contents.
A lady from Belgium had mailed the contents, which included a letter. It was obvious to Snead and others that the woman had help writing the letter. Belgium has three official languages — French, Dutch, German — none of which are English. It is a sovereign country located in Western Europe, deemed among the safest and most peaceful countries in the world.
A portion of the note read: (sic) “To the people that keep the Mansion open. I married an American that turned out to be an alcoholic. He worked out of town and I left him after three years of marriage. While I was with him we were out walking one day looking at all of the houses and we stopped by the (Shorter) Mansion. He took the doll and handkerchief.“
The theft occurred circa 1997.
“It’s American history,” the woman continued in her note. “It belongs to that house. I’m sorry for what my ex-husband did. I felt so upset.”
The woman explained that she had folded the small, carved doll and its accompanying handkerchief and put it away, only to find it in recent years. She found it stored with her wedding album. She eventually found an address for Shorter Mansion.
“Please people who find this, please give it back where it belongs,” the woman wrote. “I believe honesty in the first place. This is better late than never.”
Snead said there was a collection of the dolls in the upstairs portion of the Mansion’s museum.