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Terre Haute woman receives long lost letters from late aunt

The letters were found in a stolen car in Arizona
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Posted at 4:45 PM, Mar 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-25 16:45:20-04

TERRE HAUTE — In February, WRTV shared the story of a Terre Haute woman who had just learned about a family heirloom of sorts that would soon be in her possession.

Long lost letters of Diane Brentlinger's late aunt, Donna Lynch, dated from the early to mid 1900's, were found in a stolen car in Tucson, Arizona.

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Letters showing postmarks, 1926. One addressed to Ossian, Iowa so Lynch still lived at home.

WRTV spoke to Brentlinger as the letters were headed her way in Indiana, since she is the closest living relative to Lynch.

Since the conversation, Brentlinger has received the letters and slowly been unraveling the stories with the pages. It has been a big project, Brentlinger said, as she sorted the letters out across her dining room table, slowly reading each of them.

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A WWII "v-mail" from Bill with its tiny envelope. Dated June 1944.

Brentlinger said the earliest letter she has received is from 1926 and the letters date through 1945. They are all addressed to her aunt, Lynch, who died in Arizona in 1996.

Many of the letters are from men sharing their affection towards her aunt, many of them serving in the Army at the time, she said.

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Telegram from Fred, date unknown but is thought to be from the 1920's.

Other letters found in the collection are dear to Brentlinger, as some were from her mother and grandmother. Brentlinger said she could immediately recognize her mother's handwriting. She said the letters gave her a glimpse into her mother's life that she never knew about.

"Oh, it was wonderful!" Brentlinger said. "My mother referred to her sister as 'Sis.' It is her and her teacher friends and they are going to parties and they are dancing, just having a good life as you would expect a young woman would. And it was just nice to have a picture, I don't mean photo, a word picture of the kind of person she was. She always was fun loving and she sure had fun with her fellow teachers, I can tell that."

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Christmas card circa 1925 from boyfriend, Dick.

Brentlinger explained this surprise gift of her family's history made her realize that her grandchildren will not have the same opportunity to learn about her life because of the amount everyone uses email, text and Facebook now to communicate. She said she worries that without access to her iCloud account, her memories will not be as easily accessible for the future generations of her family.

Now, Brentlinger said after this experience, she is going to make an effort to start handwriting notes and letters to her family to keep this generation's memories alive.