DULUTH – St. Louis County property manager Matt Seppo was trying to get rid of accumulated junk in a Duluth nursing home a few years ago when he came across dusty plastic bags with old photos and photo albums inside. Instead of tossing them, Seppo embarked on a personal mission to return them to as many families as he could find.
“That was a few years ago, when the county was starting to get out of the nursing home business and I was trying to go through old county stuff to get rid of,” Seppo said. “But I just couldn’t throw the photos out. They meant something to some families out there.”
The Duluth News Tribune reported Seppo used tools such as phone books, Google and familysearch.org, the Mormon church’s genealogy site.
He’s had some success.
One bag contained at least 50 loose photos, some dating to the 1890s. Seppo found a name identifying a man in one photo as La Verne Swenson, but he struggled to find out more.
“I even tried to use a magnifying glass to check the number on the license plates of the cars in the photos people were standing next to, but that didn’t lead anywhere,” Seppo said.
Using the Internet, Seppo tracked down a woman in Port Orange, Fla., who had married Swenson’s nephew, Eugene.
“I wasn’t sure what to think at first, but he explained himself very well,” Julie Swenson said of Seppo.