Buried treasure to be reunited with owner

Photo provided


JASPER — Haddie Hollingsworth recently uncovered buried treasure at Beaver Lake.

The class ring had been dropped onto one of the location’s sandy beaches many summers ago. It rested there, beneath the earth, for 46 years, before the 9-year-old girl scooped it up while she was building a sandcastle with her cousin earlier this month.

Now, after a quick investigation that determined who the owner is, that ring will soon be reunited with an old friend.

Photo provided
Haddie Hollingsworth and the class ring she found while building a sandcastle on the beach at Beaver Lake.

“It makes me feel good because I feel like I’m doing something good,” said Haddie, who is set to begin the fourth grade at the new Jasper Elementary School later this summer.

At first glance, Haddie thought the ring — which is yellow gold and has a purple amethyst jewel in the center — was plastic. Her grandmother, Kathy Russell, sometimes buries fake jewelry and nickels and dimes in their slice of shore for the little ones to dig up.

Haddie showed her grandpa, Tom Ashcraft, what she’d found, and Ashcraft told her it was no toy. He spotted the signs: inscriptions that read “Jasper High” and “1974”; a crouching wildcat; and the initials S.A.W. cut into the inside of the band.

And so began the search for S.A.W. The family phoned Ann Czerwinski, who is also Haddie’s grandmother, and graduated from Jasper High School. She is a sleuth when it comes to getting to the bottom of things, and it took her between 5 and 15 minutes to receive the news, open up an old yearbook, scan the names and find a match.

Sam Wagner.

Czerwinski searched for Wagner online and found his name listed under a construction company he co-owns, Wagner Brothers Construction. While talking to his boss after that, Ashcraft told him the story, and through deduction, his boss pointed Ashcraft to another employee who is related to Sam by marriage.

“And the rest is history,” Ashcraft reflected.

Flashback to 1974. While Wagner and his girlfriend (and now wife) Susan were hanging out at the lake, the ring slid off Susan’s finger and onto the beach. They looked diligently for it. But it slipped away that day.

Susan recalled how Tom was heading off to college, so losing the ring was the least of his worries at that time. Still, she felt bad, and she made it right by buying him a second ring to make up for misplacing the original.

“I felt sorry for him,” said Susan, who lives with Sam west of Ireland. “I thought, ‘Oh, you just got it.’ I felt sorry for him. And then here I lost it for him. But it didn’t bother him that much. He didn’t get mad or anything.”

When Sam heard Haddie had found it all these years later, he didn’t believe it. He thought it was some sort of hoax. But when he realized it was the real deal, the memories of those faraway days came back.

“It’s just pretty amazing, I guess,” Sam said. “I really don’t know what to say. Something that’s been gone that long, you just don’t even think about it anymore.”

Haddie is excited to bring the long lost ring back to Sam. The families hope to convene soon to deliver the ring to its owner.

“You always hear stories like that, but you never get to be a part of one,” Russell said. “So, it is kind of exciting.”

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