Living color: She started the project by transcribing the travel journals of Jeptha H. Wade's son Randall. Although she came across a trial from the 1880s that left him disgraced — he called a woman loose — that wasn't her most interesting discovery. "The most moving moment for me was when I found Randall's passport. I've only ever seen black-and-white pictures of him, and it said that his eyes were gray."
Coffee break: She recently discovered a quirky personal connection to the family. "I found the newspaper advertisement where Jeptha H. Wade set up his portrait painting business in his hometown [of] Trumansburg, New York. My husband's favorite cup of coffee in the whole country is in Trumansburg, and it turns out Wade's studio was above this coffee shop."
Live scribe: The protagonist for Witchey's novel is Joe Cocktail, a curator investigating the death of his museum director. Witchey, who served as new media director at the Cleveland Museum of Art, jokes that she cooked up the mystery after her department was eliminated in 2009. "I felt like I needed to kill a museum director."
Tube time: Witchey and her husband like to binge classic TV shows after work. "We're watching The Man From U.N.C.L.E. — the original 1960s series."
History lessons: Witchey hopes the Wade Project will serve as a guide for future philanthropists. "The fantastic thing about this for me is to tell the story and hope that it catches the ear of the next person who wants to raise Cleveland."