Wednesday, April 23 2014, 09:23 AM MDT
Sentimental Letters, Photos Reunited With Family
By Matt Gephardt
Produced by Cindy St Clair
Photography by Brian Morris
Edited by Aaron Colborn
(KUTV) Joanna Short has been keeping a box safe for 25 years, ever since her mom found it a vacant house in Salt Lake City. The box is filled with 70 years of letters all addressed to Norton Olshausen. They are written in multiple languages from around the globe.
Joanna and her Mohter have been trying to track down the rightful owner but they had no luck investigating on her own. So years later, they decided to give Get Gephardt a shot.
“I'm honestly just hoping that the box will get back to its rightful owner,” Joanna said.
Get Gephardt researched online using a number of different people finder websites but we could not find anyone in Utah named Norton Olshausen. So we took the box to the real experts in researching family history: Ancestry.com.
Using old census records, the family historians here were able track down the person to whom the letters belonged. Unfortunately, Norton has passed away but they did find a living relative; a nephew named Ron who today is living in Portland, Oregon.
We delivered Ron the box who says he had heard stories about his uncle.
"He was really quite an extraordinary soldier," Ron said.
Norton Olshausen fought in World War II, landed in Normandy on D-Day and was a part of an elite group that fought the Japanese in Alaska. Many of the letters in that box were from that time period.
“I always heard from my dad that my Uncle Norton was never someone who shied away from very dangerous duty," Ron said.
Ron says he's very thankful to Joanna and her mom back here in Utah for preserving this piece of his family history.
“Thank you so much for bringing all of this to us,” Ron said. “It's really quite extraordinary."
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)