The Lost Ring
By Herb Vincent
In the summer of 1993, my wife Velma and I drove from Burbank, California to Spokane, Washington. We traveled with our daughter Glenda and our granddaughter Jennifer (age 11) in our daughter, Karen’s motorhome.
Along the way, we drove to the old Clinton Joy Vincent Ranch on Vincent Lane, in Grantsdale, Montana, three miles south of Hamilton.
We arrived at the ranch where I grew up across the yard from my grandparent’s home. I knocked on the back door of the two-story home of my grandparents. A man in his 40's came to the door and I explained how I had grown up there and asked if we could see through the house and point out it’s early features. He graciously invited us in and we had a tour of both upstairs and downstairs. I noticed many changes to the home including the transformation of the old dinning room into the master bedroom.
As we walked to the motorhome to leave, the homeowner stopped us and told us, "A few days back, I was rototilling the garden at the rear of the house and I spotted a shiny object fly up and then disappear back in the soil. I stopped the machine and dug down and found a child's ring. Upon closer inspection, I noticed an Eastern Star emblem on the ring that had the initials 'GV’ inscribed on the inside. Having been out of work as a heavy machinery operator (Caterpillar/bulldozer) and in need of some cash, I sold the ring to an antique shop in Hamilton for $30."
I asked him which antique store in town, and where it was located and he told me, “The that is one block south of Main St. along side Hwy 93.”
As we prepared to leave, he told us that he had read my sister Marge's book about Clinton and Jennie Vincent recently and learned that their daughter, my aunt, had the initials GV for Geneva Vincent. He concluded that the ring must have been hers.
We thanked him profusely and left to drive the three miles north to Hamilton.
It getting late and we did not think the Antique Store would be open as we approached town. We drove to the parking lot of the antique store thinking we would have to stay overnight in order to see if we could find the ring. Much to our delight, the lights were on in the antique store. The owner of the store was seated behind the counter. He told us that he would normally not he there that late, but he had gone home and then come back to do some paperwork. We told him who we were and where we had been and asked about the gold ring. He reached over through the back of the case and picked up the ring for us to see. He told us he had bought the ring because of the Masonic emblem and that he was going to mail it to his mother in Wisconsin, as she was in the Eastern Star Society, but he hadn't gotten around to sending it. We asked to buy it, and held our breath. He said, "Well I think I paid $20 for it". I quickly told him we had learned that the price he paid was $30 not $20. He said we could have it for $30 as we were family and it should stay with us. We grabbed for our wallets and paid the $30 for the ring. Our daughter, Glenda, was especially excited, as her initials are the same as Geneva Vincent, GV.
We spent the night in Hamilton with plans to visit my brother Frank's high school friend, Ellsworth Smith, who inherited his grandfather’s jewelry store, Barron’s, on Main Street in Hamilton.
The next morning, Ellsworth Smith was at work in the rear of his jewelry store when we visited. We showed him the ring and he said, "Would you like to have me polish it for you?" The ring was quite dirty and stained from the years being buried in the rich soil at the Vincent Ranch. Velma remembers Geneva telling her about the ring that her mother had given her when she was a little girl and that she had lost it in the garden. Geneva was still upset about the loss of the ring more than 70 years later.
We watched Ellsworth as he buffed the ring and he said, "Here comes the color and it is 22 karat gold”. Upon closer inspection he said," Oh my gosh, my grandfather engraved this ring.” I said, "Come now Ellsworth, how can you be sure your grandfather etched the initials inside the ring?" "Let me show you some of his work", he said as he started to go through the tools that had been his grandfather's JG Barron. Grandfather liked to practice this calligraphy by engraving on his tools." Ellsworth couldn't find an engraved tool, but went to the back of the store and brought out a silver kerosene lamp and showed us the initials JGB. He then held the ring up next to the lamp and the letter G was identical in both cases.
We thanked Ellsworth for cleaning the ring and sharing that his grandfather had engraved it. As we left Hamilton for Spokane we were grateful for the family treasure that had been found and the memories that would last a lifetime.
Edited by Bob Vincent, January, 2009
Note: Barron's Jewelry Store was located at 221 Main Street in Hamilton. The narrow (10 foot wide) brick structure was built in 1909 by a local physician and real estate speculator, Dr. George McGrath. It was the home of Barron's Jewelry from 1909 to 2003, 94 years! John Barron (born in 1889) began his career as a jeweler in Scotland at the age of thirteen. He immigrated to the United States when he was twenty and operated the shop until the 1940's when he turned it over to his grandson Ellsworth Smith. Source: The Hamilton Record 2006