A Saint John woman has hit the jackpot, uncovering the life story of a Nova Scotia preacher from a hundred years ago.

Heather Richards-Dalling purchased an antique photo at an estate auction months ago. She didn't know at the time what else, came with the frame.

“It was kind of like a bit of a treasure,” she said.

Tucked inside, was document after document – and photos -- from the life of Wellington Herbert Jenkins. 

“There was this whole menagerie of photos and certificates  and it was just like the history of this man,” Richards-Dalling said. “It was exciting. It was like winning the lotto.”

Born in New Brunswick in 1860, Jenkins received a high school certificate in Nova Scotia. Later, he was licensed to perform marriages in New Brunswick as well as teach. In 1924, a chaplain in Sydney wrote a glowing reference letter certifying that Jenkins was a Baptist minister in good standing.

It would appear from the documents that Rev. Jenkins story is very much a Maritime story. He had roots here in New Brunswick, but he was educated in Nova Scotia and he led at least one congregation in Nova Scotia as well.

The documents may have been hidden in the frame for as long as 80 years.

"So, the idea that this gentleman was born here in the Maritimes and worked in the Maritimes and died here, I need to know more,” said Richards-Dalling.

Historian Harold Wright says the documents need to be protected.

"This is such a real neat cool story. It's a treasure trove,” he said. “Keep it in the immediate family. If they will treasure it and use it. If they're gonna stick it in a box or a drawer, nobody benefits.”

Wright says the provincial archives may be an appropriate place for the papers.

Jenkins died in 1936. Searching online,  Richards-Dalling has since found his grave is located in Codys, N.B.

“I think these things belong with the family,” Richards-Dalling says.

She hopes to locate Jenkins’ descendants to see if they want this catalogue chronicling one preacher's lifetime.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.