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Attic treasure reveals secrets of family’s past

Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 3:47 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Do you ever put something in a safe place and then forget where that safe place is?

That’s the situation a Bismarck woman has found herself in, in a roundabout way.

Loralee Heiser is guessing her dad put a second cousin’s suitcase in their attic in 1970 and forgot about it.

The suitcase has recently resurfaced and made its way to Heiser.

And while this is a story of lost and found, this discovery has actually created more questions than answers.

These are pieces of Loralee Heiser’s family history. You could say, they fell into her hands, by way of a contractor hired to demolish her childhood home.

“This trunk, or suitcase, fell out of the attic. He thought it was important and wanted to save it because he thought it was unique,” Heiser explained.

His wife put a message on Facebook, hoping to find a relative and return the suitcase.

“I said, ‘Well I know those people. They’re my relatives,’” said Heiser.

The suitcase belonged to her second cousin, Olaf Lie. Lie came to Washburn from Norway. The contents of this suitcase prove he stayed in contact with family still there. He even took a trip there in 1950.

“It looks like maybe he was over there for six weeks,” Heiser said.

Most of the treasures are written in Norwegian, which adds to the mystery.

“I don’t know what that says,” said Heiser with a laugh.

It’s all left Heiser with questions about a man she never really knew.

“I just didn’t know much about him,” she said.

Lie died in 1970. Heiser was just 17.

“He was just a nice little man, just quiet,” she recalled.

Perhaps he will remain quiet, his life a mystery, parts of it forever preserved in this long forgotten about suitcase.

Heiser says they’ll probably donate the suitcase and its contents to the museum in Washburn.

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