Long-lost wedding ring returned to owner

This shows the moment Ryan Stogdill found Darrell Paulsen’s wedding ring last October. The ring was only a few inches underground. Stogdill said it made his day being able to reunite Darrell with his long-lost wedding ring. (Photo submitted)

These two wedding bands belong to Darrell Paulsen of Scotch Grove. The ring on the left was his original ring he lost a year after his wedding in 1959. The ring on the right is the replacement ring The Paulsens bought after the original was lost. Darrell had no clue where his ring was these past 60 years until Ryan Stogdill of Monticello found it in Paulsen’s field using his metal detector. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

                  Imagine being reunited with a priceless possession you lost over 60 years ago…

                  That is exactly what happened to Darrell Paulsen of Scotch Grove last fall.

                  Darrell and Lois Paulsen were married in February 1958. In 1959, Darrell lost his wedding band, having no clue what might have happened to it.

                  “I wore that ring all the time,” recalled Darrell.

                  One day, his cousin’s wedding ring got caught on a piece of equipment, tearing his finger. From that point on, Darrell felt he shouldn’t be wearing his ring while doing chores on the farm.

                  “So, I just always stuck it in my pocket,” he said. “But I don’t exactly know when or where I lost it.”

                  Darrell always assumed he lost it down a drain in the couple’s home.

                  Then, in October 2019, Darrell was reunited with his original wedding band, after having replaced it soon after it went missing. The ring was found by Ryan Stogdill of Monticello who was metal-detecting in Darrell’s family’s field near Scotch Grove, a half-mile away from where the Paulsens live today.

                  “I’ve tilled, tiled, and combined that field for years,” Darrell said of tearing up the field the past 60 years.

                  That field is part of the former Johnson Town. The Johnson Town Cemetery still exists in Scotch Grove today.

                  Darrell and Lois bought their wedding rings in Cedar Rapids, which was quite a drive back in the day from Scotch Grove. After Darrell lost his, it was several months before he had a replacement; however, the replacement was identical to the original.

                  “I was much more careful with the replacement,” he admitted. “I kept it in the house versus putting it in my pocket.”

                  Stogdill found the original ring on a Friday. He went back out to the field on a Sunday, when he ran into Darrell.

                  “I saw someone in the field so I drove out to see who it was and what they found,” said Darrell.

                  Stogdill informed Darrell that he had found what looked like a wedding ring a couple days prior.

                  “I thought, ‘That ring must be really old,’” remarked Darrell. “Then I told him how funny considering I lost my ring 60 years ago.”

                  When Stogdill showed Darrell a photo he took of the ring on his cell phone, Darrell almost fell over on site.

                  “He described the ring perfectly,” Darrell said of the gold and silver band with a braided ribbon in the middle. “I thought, ‘That’s it! I don’t believe it!’”

                  “I couldn’t believe it myself,” added Lois. “It’s like finding a needle in a haystack.”

                  Stogdill immediately ran back into town to retrieve the ring and return it to its rightful owner.

                  “He cleaned it up nicely,” remarked Darrell of the condition. In fact, with the two rings side-by-side, you can hardly tell which is the original and which is the replacement.

                  The original ring only has a few nicks in it; nothing to diminish the quality.

                  Stogdill started metal-detecting a few years ago with fellow enthusiasts Mark and Russell Stoneking. They only ever found old coins in the Paulsens’ field before now…

                  “That’s how I got into it; they invited me out there,” said Stogdill.

                  While out in the field alone, Stogdill said he had a feeling someone was watching him, so he turned around and saw Darrell heading back to his truck. (Darrell had been calling Stogdill’s name, but he was wearing headphones and couldn’t hear anything.) If Stogdill hadn’t ran up to Darrell, the mystery of that lost ring would have never been told.

                  “It’s emotional,” said Stogdill. “I’m amazed I found it.”

                  He said the ring was only about three or four rows away from the ditch, only about 2-3 inches deep in the dirt.

                  “I dug a hole and saw it,” said Stogdill. “It caught my eye.”

                  Judging by the look of the ring, Stogdill knew it wasn’t a period ring, meaning something that dated back to the mid-1800s.

                  Stogdill researches almost everything he finds with his metal detector: coins, jewelry, sports medals, and so much more. He’s found several Civil War uniform buttons around Monticello. Stogdill said it’s amazing considering the war wasn’t fought in Iowa. However, Iowa does hold the record for the most men to serve in the Civil War per capita.

                  The oldest coin Stogdill has found to date was located near Bowens Prairie Cemetery. The coin is dated 1830.

                  Stogdill also found a 1966 Tipton Tigers Class A relay medal at Shannon Elementary School.

                  “That can only belong to four people,” he said of the four-man relay team.

                  Stogdill did some research and found the names of the four Monticello High School male athletes who won that particular relay, hosted in Monticello. He’s been able to eliminate two of those men.

                  Paulsen said he sticks to wearing the replacement ring, which actually fits his ring finger better than the original.

                  “I never thought I would find something that meant so much to someone else,” admitted Stogdill. “It’s symbolic.

                  “I hope it brings a smile to their faces.”


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