This article appeared in the Taylor Press on January 19, 2005

"Couple reunited with wedding ring"

By Mike Fowler

On Feb. 9, 1946 a spry, wiry young man, Charles E. Hanstrom Jr., married his beautiful bride, Clarice Anderson. As part of the wedding ceremony, Clarice placed a gold wedding band that she had purchased for him on his left hand as a token of her love.

Charlie Hanstrom had served his country in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942 and through the remainder of World War II. After the war, Hanstrom returned to his hometown to resume his profession as a plumber and ran the Hutto waterworks. His father, Charles E. Hanstrom Sr., had been one of Hutto's most prominent citizens, starting the water works in 1910, as well as an ice company, electric company and a cotton gin. He died in 1928 and Hanstrom took over the family business in 1939.

Life was good in Hutto following World War II as the Hanstroms shared their first Valentine's Day together as a married couple.

On Feb. 15, 1946, Ada May (Lockett) Farley was a widow in need of help with a plumbing problem in her home at 305 East St. Hanstrom came to her rescue.

Cold, wet and muddy after finishing the plumbing repairs at the Farley home, Hanstrom crawled out from under the wooden pier and beam foundation. It wasn't until later that he looked down at the finger on his left hand and found it was bare - his wedding ring had been swallowed by the black gumbo clay under the Farley house.

He was distraught and tried to look for his lost ring, but it was not to be found.

Time passed, the Hanstroms had three children and Hanstrom continued to work for 39 years with the city waterworks and even longer as a plumber. Clarice Hanstrom worked in banking for 28 years in Round Rock, and both were very involved in the community at many levels through their church, the Hutto Lions Club and through their work.

On Oct. 19, 1965, Ada Farley died in Taylor and in 1966 her home was sold.

It wasn't until the fall of 2003 that Hanstrom shared the story of his lost wedding ring with Mike Fowler, who was then mayor of Hutto.

In the late summer of 2004, Fowler bought the Farley house from George Carter and told Hanstrom he was welcome to renew his search for the lost ring anytime he wanted.

Almost 59 years later, Fowler suggested Art Tiemann, president of the Austin Metal Detecting Club, who had called looking for sites to prospect, renew the search for Hanstrom's wedding ring.

Saturday Fowler and Hanstrom joined members of the club at the house, where Hanstrom recanted his tale to club members.

Hundreds of items were detected and retrieved by the group of 16 people armed with metal detecting equipment. On average, metal detectors detect to a depth of 6 to 8 inches, with the majority of items found in the top 3 inches of soil.

Most of the items found were junk metal. However a 1914 Maltese Cross, a 1905 Mexican centavo coin, many old and newer coins - with emphasis on pennies - and an 1890's ornate iron door lockset minus the knobs were found.

At about 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Clarice Hanstrom came to the Farley-Carter house to check on progress.

At about 11 a.m., Blaine Nelson, the secretary of the club, called out: "I've found it." A bright gold ring in pristine condition stamped 14K was in her hand.

The ring did not quite fit on Hanstrom's finger, but after celebrating and taking photographs, it was Clarice Hanstrom who walked away wearing the newly found treasure, promising to see that it would be resized and get back on her husband's wedding ring finger in the near future.

Sunday Hanstrom wore his wedding band to church at Hutto Methodist Church, retelling the story for the congregation.