- Tornadoes caused extensive damage to cities and towns across several midwestern states.
- An Indiana woman found an old family portrait outside her car on Saturday morning.
- The photo had traveled more than 150 miles from a western Kentucky town badly hit by the tornadoes.
When Katie Posten walked to her car in New Albany, Indiana, on Saturday morning she found a 1942 picture of Gertie Swatzell and JD Swatzell stuck to the driver’s side window.
Posten thought the photo was probably lost after tornadoes struck at least six states in the midwest on Friday night. She posted the image to Twitter and Facebook in hopes of tracking down who it belonged to.
“This is obviously an important piece of their family history and I have the opportunity to potentially return this to a family who has likely lost a lot, if not everything. If there’s anyone who can find who the family is, Twitter can,” Posten told Insider on Sunday.
—Katie Posten (@katieposten) December 11, 2021
Posten said she’d been following the news on the tornadoes since she lived very close to Louisville, Kentucky, and saw reports that debris was landing far away.
“I was actually pretty sure that it probably had come from a home that hit been hit by the tornado. I had no idea that it had been a home so far away,” Posten said.
After posting the image, she said people began messaging her that the last name Swatzell was really common in Dawson Springs, Kentucky – 150 miles away.
She said that it took a little more than two hours for her to get in touch with a member of the Swatzell family. A great- grandson of the woman pictured in the photo, who lived right outside of Dawson Springs, was tagged in Posten’s post by a friend.
In a comment on Posten’s Facebook post, Cole Swatzell said the woman in the photo was his dad’s grandmother.
“Wow. To think this traveled so far, this is my dads grand parents. That came out of Dawson springs, ky,” he wrote.
Posten said the photo had been lost by members of the Swatzell family in Dawson Springs during the tornado.
The town was one of many in the area that suffered significant damage after a storm caused over 30 tornadoes across the midwest.
—Justin Michaels (@JMichaelsNews) December 11, 2021
As of Sunday afternoon, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said he anticipates the death toll to be around 50 people across the state. At a press conference on Saturday, Beshear said “this is going to be some of the worst tornado damage that we’ve seen in a long time.”
Posten told Insider that she made plans to reconnect with the Swatzells later this week and hopes to find a time to personally give the photo to a member of the family.
“I don’t want to mail it because I don’t want to chance it getting lost again. If it’s made it all this way, I would love to just put it in someone in the family’s hand so that they can make sure that it’s well taken care of,” Posten said.
She added that after she posted the image of the photo she began to see dozens of posts from people who have found personal belongings of others lost during the tornado.
“Scattered all across our region are tons of personal, important, memorable belongings,” she said.