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What Was In Grandpa’s Trunk

By Harla Jean Heiser Biever

Being an only child I became sole heir to my Grandparent’s home in Chadron, Nebraska, when my mother passed away in 1985. My daughter, Lisa, and I went into that home and were swept into the past as we sorted through all the belongings stored in the basement and in the attic.

We found many treasures; one of them brings us to our publishing this book. Stored away in an old trunk in the attic we found numerous photographs of Sioux Indians, the Wounded Knee Massacre, the 7th Cavalry, and the Pine Ridge Reservation. I am uncertain exactly how Grandpa came to own these photographs. Some of the major photographers of the time had studios in Chadron, and friends who knew of his interest in the events of the late 1800’s may have sent some of these photos to him. So, his private collection became our private collection and since 1985 we’ve considered how best to preserve the photographs for coming generations. We finally decided to publish a book to share the photos of this historic era with others who have a like-minded interest. Most of the photos are now 125 years old. 

Board members Jack Bury and Tina Wynecoop, were valuable advisors as Lisa and I worked our way through the self-publishing process. Our dear friend, Jack Nisbet, wrote this foreword:

“These photographs from a grandfather’s attic shine glaring light on the reality of the Dakota country;s early reservation period. With clear organization and minimal prose, the authors let the prints tell a story full of cruelty, bitterness, and surprising human warmth.” 

Jack Nisbet, author of Sources of the River and The Collector.

Because many members of the Friends of the Little Spokane River Valley have a deep interest in history, I asked and received permission from the board to acquaint you with our book and offer it for sale. We will donate 10% of the profits to FLSRV. 

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