POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — Treasure can be found in the most unexpected places.
Back in October, Jim Curley, of Ironton, was searching a piece of property in Mason County, W.Va., with his metal detector. Curley is part of a group, Dig It All Detectors, based in Ashland, Ky., which meets once a month to share finds and plan hunts. Curley is also a pastor who preaches to inmates at the Boyd County, Ky., jail and is vice president of the AZUSA StreetRiders International, the Apostolic Motorcycle Ministry of Jesus Christ.
Curley took up metal detecting as a hobby two years ago. It was his first time hunting in Mason County when he made an interesting find.
In an undisclosed wooded area rumored to be a former dump site just inside the city limits of Point Pleasant, his metal detector picked up what appeared to be a ring. After cleaning up the ring, he saw it was a Point Pleasant High School class ring from 1955. On the inside band were the initials BIP.
Though Curley could’ve kept the ring and pawned it for the gold, he said this never occurred to him as an option — he wanted to solve the mystery. He went to Facebook and began placing posts about the ring and the initials on local pages dealing with all things Point Pleasant and beyond. In no time, Curley began receiving messages about whom the ring might belong.
Eventually, that trail led to a Barbara Iris Peters-Simpkins. Curley said Simpkins now lives in Gallipolis, and after speaking to her, said there was no debating the ring belonged to her.
“She thinks she lost it in 1956 or 1957,” Curley said, saying Simpkins told him she lost it down a bathroom drain in a home in Point Pleasant not on the site where he found the ring. Curley theorized the ring ended up where it was because it was, at one time, a dump site and the ring may have been thrown out with the bath water at some point, so to speak, and hauled away. Curley said Simpkins told him she had never been to the area where the ring was found, which makes the odds of him finding it where he did — or finding it again at all — astronomical.
Curley remarked on how finding these treasures means something different to the people who have lost them, as opposed to the ones who find them. He eventually met up with Simpkins in Coal Grove and placed the ring on her finger some 60 years after it went missing.
Curley said Simpkins, now 78, felt like she was 16 years old again wearing the ring that was given to her by her parents when the Brooklyn Dodgers were World Series champions and Bill Haley and the Comets ruled the music charts with “Rock Around the Clock.”
Simpkins arranged to have Curley be given an award from a Huntington news media outlet, recognizing him for his honesty and for going to all that trouble. The reunion was captured on camera and aired on local television.
Curley said he hopes this story gives metal detecting a good name, showing some in the hobby just want to respectfully search and, when given the opportunity, “complete the mystery” of what they find, which sometimes includes a conclusion of giving up the treasure.
Find Dig It All Detectors on Facebook for more information on metal detecting.
Reach Beth Sergent at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.