FOX 9 helps solve mystery of military steamer trunk filled with family keepsakes

When Lauren Hundshamer found an old steamer trunk in a St Paul building her grandfather used to own, she quickly learned it was full of pieces from the past. (FOX 9)

In a St. Paul living room this past weekend, two strangers bonded over pieces from the past.

Sandee Clingerman and Lauren Hundshamer had never met before Saturday.

But now, in a way, they are almost family.

"It will hit me even more later, but it's got the presence of him. I can feel him," Clingerman told FOX 9.

Last month we told you how Hundshamer was looking for relatives of a man named Edward Welke, who used to work for her grandfather in the 1970's, so she could give them an old steamer trunk filled with Welke's personal possessions she had found in a building her grandfather used to own. 

"I really want to find a home for this. I really want it to go to the family," Hundshamer said at the time.

After the story aired, a couple of Welke's family members contacted Clingerman to say her father's picture had just been on TV.

She and Hundshamer met up over the weekend so Hundshamer could give Clingerman her father's trunk.

"Originally I was told this had been stolen. I was like my whole life is gone. But now it's here and I will find out a lot of things that have always been floating around. Who I am and what made me who I am today," Clingerman said.

She hopes to learn more about how Welke, who died in the early 1980s, and his wife brought her to the U.S. after they were stationed in Japan to adopt her, which required congressional approval.

She also hopes Welke's service record fills in some gaps from her childhood like why he was awarded the Purple Heart and the Silver Star while serving in the Army during the Korean War.

"I didn't know if I was going to find the person. It was such a mystery of her coming from Japan. Did she change her name? Is she still living? Does she have children? So emotional and very relieved," Hundshamer said.

Clingerman believes the trunk not only holds the key to her past, but also to her future.

"That my life does have meaning. That I was loved and how proud I think he would now be of me," Clingerman said.