When wealth manager Bryan Wisda took on a new client, 98-year-old widow living in a Scottsdale, Arizona, retirement community, he asked her a battery of routine questions. One of them was if she knew anyone famous.

The standard question yielded a less standard answer. Her grandfather, it turned out, was a Civil War general, and when she was in her 20s, he dictated his autobiography to her. Not knowing what to do with it, she stashed the manuscript in a shoebox in her closet for over 70 years.

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