Mabel couple finds mystery heirloom at Wisconsin yard sale - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Mabel couple finds mystery heirloom at Wisconsin yard sale

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MABEL, Minn. (FOX 47) -- When a Mabel couple went garage sale hopping this weekend in Wisconsin, they never imagined they'd pick up a piece of southeastern Minnesota history. 

"I just got curious to think maybe there's a year on the back of the picture, or a name or something," said Deb Hirsch.

Deb Hirsch and her husband Myron got more than they bargained for when they bought an antique photograph at a West Salem garage sale. "When I opened up the picture, this check was sitting perfectly in the back," she said. 

Inside the frame was a check, dated 1963, for twenty dollars. The check was from Canton State Bank. "I thought, well there must be a connection, it must be a farm in our area. So I was anxious to figure out whose farm it was," said Hirsch. 

With the help of a Mabel librarian, Deb tracked down the brother of the check's recipient, Leroy Johnson. "He said, 'Oh that's my sister,' and I kind of got the chills," she said.

LeRoy Johnson grew up and lived on the Canton farm until 1951. His nephews still do. "You would never recognize this place because all of this is gone except the house," Johnson said, pointing at the picture.

But Johnson had no idea the photo even existed until Deb called him up. "The only thing that's a puzzle to me is that I don't remember this picture, and I should remember it if it was in the 60s," he said.

But how did the picture and check end up almost 70 miles away in West Salem? And what are the chances it would make its way back to Southeast Minnesota?

"I know a lot of people, but I don't know anyone from West Salem, so I have no idea how it would have ended up there!" Johnson said.

LeRoy and the Hirsch's still have unanswered questions. Who was the person in West Salem who sold the picture, and how did they get it? And why was that birthday check not only never cashed, but stowed away in the back of the frame?

LeRoy says perhaps no one will ever know.

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