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A Family Mystery

An unanswered Christmas card, a fading college yearbook and a phone call out of the blue connect a woman to her roots.

By Elise Breda, Delmar, Maryland

As appeared in

By now, you might have guessed, the reason I’m telling this story is because I’m Deborah’s daughter. The story, you see, doesn’t end there.

Inspired by my mother reconnecting with her Tar Heel heritage, I set my sights on going to North Carolina for college. I was Chapel Hill bound, drawn by its history, size and prestige.

Then my guidance counselor suggested I look at another North Carolina school, tiny Davidson College. I’d never heard of it. Not interested, I told her. No way. But she kept pushing. Finally, I agreed to visit the campus.

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There in the student union I saw a familiar name on a plaque honoring alumni: Bahnson. A trip to the library uncovered a weathered 1946 annual and a picture of my grandfather Alec Bahnson. A Davidson alum. Just like his brothers, Henry and Reid, before him.

A cousin, I discovered later, had just graduated himself. I felt an incredible sense of connection, of belonging. As if I were that final piece of our family’s puzzle. I was right where I was meant to be.


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