A box of the history of one man born in 1894 and the lives he touched may have been thrown out had it not been for Andy Alexander.
“For history to get thrown into the garbage or burned would be a shame,” said Kenyon resident Andy Alexander, who works as a corrections officer at Minnesota Correctional Facility-Faribault.
A few months ago, Alexander, his sister, Melissa Alexander, and his uncle, Mike Alexander, were cleaning out his grandparent’s Minneapolis house, when a relative told them to take a look around for mementos they’d like to keep, What Andy Alexander found was unexpected: an old cardboard box with the words KEEP FROM HERMAN written across the top in red marker.
Inside the box he found yellowing, framed discharge papers, a soldier’s pay record book that was peeling at the corners, black and white family and class photos, bundles of photographs neatly tied together by a bare spine and loose covers, and a funeral registry from 1970 for Herman H. Infange.
From the treasures in the box, Andy Alexander was able to discern that Infange was an assistant chief of security for the State Line Generating Plant, an Army veteran who served as a private in the Society of the First Division American Expeditionary Forces during World War I and a member of both the Griffith Memorial Post 9982 and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
“How my grandparents got [the box], I don’t know,” Andy Alexander said. When he asked his grandmother what she knew about it, she was unable to recall.
With only the contents of the box to give clues, Andy Alexander and his wife, Lisa Alexander, began their search for Infange’s survivors.
Andy Alexander believes his late grandfather must have been a friend of Herman’s or at least an associate as his name is signed in the “Relatives and Friends” section of the funeral book.
In the back of the funeral book, is a short, newspaper clipping dedicated to Infange. It reads “Herman H. Infange, age 76 … passed away Sunday, May 17 … Survivors: three cousins, Herman Bently of Hammond, Mrs. Effie Stevenson of Indianapolis, Mrs. Mary Robertson of Houston, Texas, and the Buckler family of Griffith, with whom he made his home for the past 28 years.” They also discovered he was buried in Crown Point Lake, Indiana, about 30 miles south of Chicago.
After using Facebook to message potential family members or connections and receiving no replies, the Alexanders searched for Infange’s burial location and with nearby historical societies.
A box that, now in Faribault, appears to have come from Indiana by way of Minneapolis.
If no surviving family is found, the box with Infange’s belongings will most likely be donated to the Lake County Historical Museum in Indiana to keep his memories close to his final resting place.
“It’s a connection to my family,” Alexander said. “I don’t want my grandpa’s memory and Herman’s memory to be washed away.”