Back in the 19th Century, a small newspaper called Southwestern Christian Advocate started running a rather unique column, featuring snippets like this:
DEAR EDITOR-I wish to inquire
about my people. I left them in a
trader's yard in Alexandria, with a
Mr. Franklin. They were to be
sent to New Orleans. Their names
were Jarvis, Moses, George and
Maria Gains. Any information of
them will be thankfully received.
Address me at Aberdeen, Miss.
Also, just before these, there was a note from the editor to all readers:
Pastors will please read the requests
published below from their pulpits,
and report any case where friends
are brought together by means of
letters in the SOUTHWESTERN
Lost Friends was an attempt to reunite friends and family separated by slavery. It's a blunt reminder of how, at one point in history, it was socially acceptable to own, buy and sell people as mere objects, without any regard for the bonds of family and friendship. Even though slavery hasn't completely disappeared yet, it's definitely not as acceptable worldwide as it once was.
I'd like to think that this kind of ugly memories can serve a purpose years after they were written. Maybe these letters never found their intended recipients, but they carry a strong message from people who had no chance to ever seeing their loved ones again: the hopeless had hope. They remembered, after many years, the names and circumstances of their lost ones. They tried, even if their chances were nil.
So, in case you wanted to shed a few tears or to read about the pain of being separated and next to no hope at all, you can peruse the Lost Friends archive right here