A needle in a haystack – the missing wedding ring of a WWI vet returned.

How often does a search for something small – such as a needle in a haystack – end in success? Not very often one would suppose.  Imagine therefore the surprise, not to mention the pleasure, of having a wedding ring – lost for many, many years returned to your family by a total stranger.

Clifford Carlson, a Vietnam vet, was mowing the lawn one day in 1994 when he came across a wedding ring  inside which had been engraved the words  ‘Allen to Faith May 26 – 17’. The ring was thus over 70 years old. He did some cursory searching of records but did not come up with any useful information, so set the ring aside and forgot about it.

However, he often thought about the ring.Twenty-two years later, Clifford decided to try to find out more about this ring, so he began to search records in earnest. He did not know where to begin. Clifford was not a genealogist or a historian but he persisted. The internet was a big help and it allowed him to be an amateur detective and  track  down the owner of the ring.

After much research on  the Internet, together with the services of a local reference librarian, Clifford discovered that Allen Dearborn had married  Faith Bostwick in 1917. Mr Dearborn must have lost the ring many decades ago. He had  had served in France in an Army Artillery Unit during WWI  and had come home  from the war as a decorated vet. His military records made it easier for Clifford to find him. Clifford was very please by the idea that he was returning the precious ring of a fellow vet to his family.

Dearborn had died in 1946 and his wife had died in 1974 at the age of 78.  Further investigation showed that a daughter of the couple, Patricia Westby, at 97, was living near Atlanta. She was entitled to the ring as Dearborn’s last living child.

Determined to return this ring to the rightful heirs, Clifford contacted Patricia to alert her to his find.  Imagine the surprise of this 97 old lady, when phoned by a complete stranger to be told “I have your mother’s  ring.”  The family were so pleased to have such an unexpected ‘heirloom’ returned to them after it had remained lost for so long. How the ring was lost is not know, but it certainly meant a lot to Dearborn’s last living child, to have it returned.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE