Albuquerque man tracks down owner of vintage family photos

An Albuquerque man made it his mission to find the owner of some vintage photos that he found when his stolen car was returned to him.

Sam Porter and Barbara Martin have never crossed paths, until today. “You just follow the leads where they take you,” Porter said.

And for nearly a month Porter has done just that. He’s been on the hunt to find the owner of some very old photos and letters. Some of the photos date back to the 1800s.

In April, Porter’s car was stolen and when he got it back, inside was a box.

KRQE News 13 first introduced you to Porter weeks after he had begun his search. “My heart was going out to this person who had lost the pictures,” Porter said. 

As for Martin, in December, her home was burglarized. A lot of family heirlooms, including the box of photos, were taken. “That’s my lineage,” she said. “That’s what I have left to pass down to my daughter.”

During his search, Porter reached out to friends for help. He even asked the Albuquerque Genealogical Society to help guide him in finding the Burgess family. It just so happens that Martin’s mother’s family is “Burgess.”

“That was her maiden name before she married my dad,” Martin said. 

Just when Porter thought he exhausted all options, “Everything was leading to California or Kansas or Texas or Iowa,” he said—a member of the Albuquerque Genealogical Society sent him an obituary.

“I looked at it and sure enough, it showed that your mom had passed away in Albuquerque in 2002 and I was like, ‘Bingo,’ that’s what I needed,” Porter said. “Then I had all the names of the survivors here in Albuquerque.”

Around the same time, Martin was also clued in that several people were trying to find her. “A friend of mine called me and said, ‘I think I found something that is yours,'” Martin said. 

That friend sent Martin a link to the original story that aired on KRQE News 13. Martin said she can never repay Porter, but for him finding the owner of the photos was his reward. “And this time the good guys win,” he said. 

“What he has done is incredible and amazing to anybody who could be sitting in my position,” Martin said.

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