Colonial Era Ring Finds Heir After 281 Years

It's a one of a kind, lost and found story in Marblehead about a ring, a garden and two old friends.The ring w...

Posted: Jun 14, 2018 2:04 PM
Updated: Jun 14, 2018 2:04 PM

It's a one of a kind, lost and found story in Marblehead about a ring, a garden and two old friends.

The ring was lost in 1737, and found in 1949. But it wasn't until two weeks ago that the ring found its home.

At the end of March, Gail Griffiths Fraser was clearing out some of her father's things. "I got this box and I started looking through it, and lo and behold, there was the ring," she says.

The gold ring was first found by her father, 69 years earlier.

It was 1949 and John Griffiths was digging in his Marblehead garden. He spotted something shiny. It turned out to be what's called a "mourning" ring.

"It was customary to have a piece of jewelry with an inscription when somebody died and to wear it in their memory," says Dan Dixey, who will play a key role in this story. The inscription on the ring showed a date of death as August 22, 1737 and the initials J.D. It was still colonial times.

Research showed the ring commemorated the death of Marblehead's John Dixey. "He was my 8th, great, grand uncle," Dan Dixey says.

Dan is not only a descendant of John Dixey, he's a Marblehead historian in his own right. Dan had also lived in the neighborhood where the ring was found and knew Gayle from that time. She grew up hearing about the ring, but was sure it was lost. But when she re-discovered it, she was overjoyed.

"I went upstairs and I emailed Dan Dixey, and I said hallelujah, I found the ring!"

And Dan feels like a piece of his family has been restored.

"Somebody asked me, what it's worth, and I said it doesn't matter how much it's worth because it's priceless to me," he says.

Another remarkable fact; Gayle rediscovered the ring 69 years to the day that her father dug it out of his garden. It's taken 281 years for the ring to find it's rightful heir. And the circle is complete.

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