When Chicago photographer Jeff Phillips found 30 boxes of unmarked Kodachrome slides in a St. Louis consignment shop, he didn’t realize he had just stumbled across the Internet’s most heartwarming manhunt.
The photos showed a well-dressed, middle-aged couple in the late 1950s hosting dinner parties, touring Europe, and climbing glaciers in Alaska. Penciled onto the border of various slides were two names: Harry and Edna.
As Phillips kept uncovering more details about Harry and Edna’s lives, he realized he still didn’t know anything about them – even their last names. So he created a Facebook page about the unknown couple, vowed to post one snap a day, and asked a few friends to share the pictures. Within days, the photographs attracted hundreds of likes … and theories.
Some thought Harry and Edna lived near (or at least traveled to) tree farms in the South. Others thought they recognized long-lost relatives in group shots. Commenters started making assumptions: The couple was rich; they didn’t have children. Yet no one came forward to confirm the story.
Three weeks after Phillips started the project, a small group of Internet sleuths delivered some answers.
Their names were Harry August Grossmann and Edna Annette Lehr. Harry worked in the sheet metal business, and Edna was his bookkeeper. Just like Facebook theorists thought, they lived in a wealthy town outside of St. Louis – and they never had any children.
Never to be apart for long, Edna passed away in 1983, when she was 83 years old; Harry passed away three years later at 87.
Their nieces and nephews got a kick out of seeing their aunt and uncle discussed online and confirmed the dapper duo was as fun and adventurous in life as they seemed in their old, found photos.
Courtesy of Jeff Phillips