Hope springs eternal, but I'm not holding my breath.
Something pilfered in the early 1900s was pilfered by someone long dead. I think the probability is that someone having no idea what the tin matchbox (or whatever othe little momento) was related to (or maybe even knowing) tossed it.
Your point is a valid one. But some times, great-grandpa's stuff gets held on to just because it was great-grandpa's. Some of it may still be there, waiting to turn up. But I grant that it might just as well have been lost in a fire or destroyed if its context/meaning is lost to those who own it now, as it may never see the light of day.