Sophie opened the little pouch and out slipped the ring.
The gold band looked like a tiny gold rope. The stone was reddish.
Jewelers would call the stone a 'rubellite tourmaline'.
You could hear exclamations of delight from the people in the room, because it was so pretty.
Considering a soldier’s pay at the time, someone must have been desperate to sell it so a soldier could afford it.
Perhaps it was war-booty.
Everyone stopped to catch their breath and sort out all the information they had just heard.
Seeing that all the wares had been displayed and the letters read, Sophie’s dad said, “Feel free to look things over.
My wife and I will decide how these things will be dealt with, except for those things specifically gifted.
Thank you for sharing today with us.”
Eventually everyone went home. For once, Sophie and Parker were as exhausted as their parents.
“Wow!” Parker shouted, “What a day!”
“I agree.” said his Aunt Anne. “I noticed that all these people were single, just looking for someone to remember them.”
This is how the items were divided:
Each attendee received an album that contained an inventory and pictures of the contents;
photocopies of all the letters and a copy of the circus poster.
Anne (Sophie’s mom) would get: Harriet’s brooch.
Jon (Sophie’s dad) would get: The geode and the fishing hooks from the Watkins. He later gave half of the geode to each Sophie and Parker.
Sophie would get: Harriet’s Ring, some pennies and half of the trading tokens from the Palmers.
Parker would get: the ring from Barton, marbles from the Palmers, and some of the pennies from the Watkins.
Sergeant Steele would get the Christmas card sent by his great-grandfather to Edna Palmer.
The Historical Society would accept anything gifted to the local governments, including:
The original circus poster
All original documents, including the book that Parker found in the courthouse shack (considered county property)
The Christmas cards, pen, hanky, calendar and Iowa State Fair postcards from the Palmers.
Also the larger ball and half the trading tokens from the Palmers.
The sheet music, Watkins photo, newspaper clippings, dress gloves and some pennies from the Watkins.
Parker and Sophie took Sheriff Leo, Sergeant Steele and Mr. Grey to the shack in the courthouse attic.
Sophie's dad went along too.
They were duly impressed at this piece of Dallas County history that was under their noses all the time.
Or should I say: over their heads all this time?
The family went to the poor farm's cemetery. They located Barton's grave. He had a Veteran's marker.
They put flowers there.
So then, Sophie’s half of the geode sits on her dresser, and she is trying to talk her parents into geode hunting.
The only thing left to know is to whom Parker gives Barton’s ring; but that hasn’t happened yet.
He can’t even drive a car yet, eh?
Bartons recipe for bullhead bait, that he never shared? He never shared it in his papers either.
It went into eternity with him. Yet another mystery.
Eric J. Rose