Antioch resident Gail Kean is an amateur treasure hunter who enjoys scouring thrift shops for unique items others discard as junk, but she never dreamed the discovery of an 80-year-old diary would lead her on an adventure through history.
Kean was casually browsing the shelves of the Hospice of the East Bay Thrift Shop in Antioch last October – the shop has since relocated to Martinez – when she came across a box of old books. She gently sifted through the box and discovered that one book, despite its appearance, wasn’t a hardbound novel like the rest but a diary written by a woman named Myra Kirker.
“I’ve always loved going into these shops and looking for treasures,” said Kean, a teacher at Jack London Elementary in Antioch. “You never know when you’re going to find something truly unique and special. When I found the diary, I couldn’t resist, and it only cost $1.”
Kean wondered if Myra Kirker had any relation to James Kirker, for whom Kirker Pass is named. She logged on to Ancestry.com and signed up for the two-week free trial to see what she could find out. After countless hours of research on the genealogy site and some lucky Internet searches, Kean was able to locate Myra’s granddaughter JoAnn Kinyon in Red Bluff, Calif.