Sonoma County treasure hunter Woodrow Engle was metal detecting when he found a mystery ring. Here is his story:
Back in June, I was metal detecting a local Petaluma, California, park when I found a 10K gold class ring, Class of 1927. It was extremely worn, but “Trinity” was visible, and on the inside of the band were the initials ‘JFG.’
I initially thought it was Trinity College in Connecticut and hunted down a lead I found regarding a student with ‘JG’ initials, but a family member got back to me and said that the middle name didn’t match, and he didn’t think the ring was from Trinity College.
So, with my new digital microscope, I decided to have a closer look, and I found “University” on the bottom portion of the ring face. This led me to discovering a Trinity University in Texas from that era, and luckily they kept a digitized library of yearbooks running all the way back to the 1800s.
I found the 1927 yearbook and started going through the seniors, and sure enough, there was a Jay F. Gamel who graduated that year. Now we were getting somewhere!
I Googled the name and found that he had passed away in 1969. (He was both a World War II and Korean War veteran.) I was able to find an image of his gravestone in San Antonio. I then began browsing Facebook for that last name and found someone who lived 25 miles away in Kenwood. I checked out his page, and wouldn’t you know it, he had a memorial post for his father with the same gravestone pictured. We’d found our man!
I finally was able to get in touch with him, and it turns out some burglars had robbed his house about 10 years ago, and the class ring was among one of the objects stolen. How it made it into the park is anyone’s guess. He was obviously shocked and super happy—he was not expecting to see it again. We made arrangements, and soon the ring was back in his hands after being missing for over a decade.
Special thanks to fellow Sonoma County resident Amy Malaise ’97 for sharing this story.