A week after deadly tornadoes tore through Middle Tennessee, a ripped photograph of four smiling teens appeared on journalist A.C. Shilton’s farm in Fentress County.
“My husband found it deep in one of our fields on a slope that goes down to a stream,” Shilton told Southern Living. “It was so far from any road that there's no way it got there any way but via the tornado.”
The nearest tornado that night was just 25 miles away from the couple’s 45-acre farm, but that one mostly hit barns and tore down trees, explained Shilton. She believes it’s more likely that the mysterious photograph was swept up in the Cookeville tornado, which damaged many homes 55 miles away.
The photo holds only two real clues: it was printed via Shutterfly in 2009. With little connections to the Cookeville and Nashville areas, Shilton was at an impasse. So, she took to social media.
“Found in our backyard from last week's tornado,” she wrote alongside a picture of the photo on Twitter Wednesday. “Anyone know these folks? Would love to reunite this photo with its family.”
Found in our backyard from last week's tornado. Anyone know these folks? Would love to reunite this photo with its family. pic.twitter.com/dPhq5so4vb— AC Shilton (@ACShilton) March 11, 2020
Shilton says she hasn’t gotten any leads—yet. And she’s not giving up.
“Obviously getting this photo back is probably low on these folks' lists of priorities, right? I'm guessing if it was ripped from their home, they have much bigger problems on their minds,” she said. “But this was printed in 2009, when most of us could share photos digitally. They opted to pay for printing, likely because the photo meant something.”
WATCH: Tornadoes Are Deadlier in the South, and Experts Say They’re Getting Worse
Tornadoes Are Deadlier in the South, and Experts Say They’re Getting Worse
Dixie Alley tornadoes are particularly devastating.
And the thought of being able to reunite the photo with its owner makes Shilton feel a little less helpless in the face of so much tragedy. Even the smallest act can bring joy to someone who has been through so much.
“I also feel like the Internet can be a terrible place, but it has these moments of magic every now and then," she added. "In these hard times, I want to keep believing there's magic out there, you know? That I can put the Internet to use for good.”