MIDDLEBURG, Pa. -- All Nancy Shilling of Adams County has of her father are his letters to her mother during World War II. Shilling was just 18 months old when her father, Sgt. Albert E. Coleman of Sunbury, was killed at the Battle of the Bulge in 1945.
"It says, 'Somewhere in Belgium, I received a couple of your letters and was very happy because we are not receiving much mail anymore,'" Shilling read from one of her father's letters.
Now, at 76 years old, Shilling is finally being reunited with a belonging her father lost during the war.
Snyder County Historical Society librarian Esther Klingler got an email from a man named Colin Murphy this past spring, explaining he found a bracelet in Pembrookshire, Wales with Coleman's name and serial number on it. He was hoping to return it to Coleman's family. Klinger set to work to find Coleman's next of kin.
"Her last known address, which was in 2002 being down in Biglerville, Pennsylvania, I took a leap of faith. I sent a letter to her describing what was happening," Klinger explained.
"When I opened it up and saw they were looking for a relative of Albert Coleman, well that was my father's name. And I waited. I was going to call Monday, but I couldn't wait anymore. I was just excited. I was so curious. I got weak and shaky," Shilling said.
Shilling called Klinger on Memorial Day, and after confirming his serial number, was able to set up the ceremony for the bracelet's return.
Members of the Snyder County Historical Society say they are thrilled to be able to reunite Nancy with her father's bracelet.
"We get to share a lot of genealogy, family history, but not a lot of personal artifacts. Something this personal, I think is once in a lifetime," Klinger added.
Shilling says the return of her father's bracelet inspired her to dig deeper into her family's history.
"Before he was kind of a name, but then I realized more maybe what his personality was like, and that he had a very rough time, fought hard and had a rough time, and thought he would be coming back," Shilling said.
Shilling says she plans to keep the bracelet to show her children and grandchildren and eventually plans to donate it back to the Snyder County Historical Society.