I think it's luck. Good old fashioned, feed the one-arm bandit, kind of LUCK. I would like to say, however, that luck is only good if you're paying attention. Here's a perfect example.
I've spent the last three weeks writing a series of articles on a cabinet card for Shades. I've read the census, three books, and 174 newspaper articles. My eyes have begun to fog over from all the reading.
Although the murder the card is an integral part of occurred in San Francisco, the newspaper articles blanketed the entire country. I read everyone, as you never know what small but priceless jewel may be contained in them.
I read an article in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. When I finished the article I scanned the entire page; a habit, routine and custom of mine when researching. To the right of my article this caught my eye:
Carrollton, Mo., November 10
A.H. Hale and Miss Mattie R. Tull were married in the Christian Church of this city, this morning, Rev. G. W. Hatcher officiating. The groom is the eldest son of Congressman Hale, and a promising lawyer. His bride is of one of the most respected families of our city, a beautiful and accomplished young lady. They left for the East on a bridal tour.
St. Louis Globe-Democrat (St. Louis, MO) Thursday, November 11, 1886; pg. 2; Issue 172; Col C
This little tidbit may have a connection to my Great Great Grandfather John Campbell of Carrollton, Missouri, whose daughter Hattie married a Tull. When her sister Jennie died in childbirth she raised Jennie's son Frank who became the family historian and the owner of that photograph.
I am chasing the Tull family in the fervent hope that I will one day find that photograph of John Campbell.
So always be aware of your good LUCK!