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A cold case we want to solve

Sometimes this job is a great deal of fun. I was notified this past week that I was being tagged to take on a mystery involving a Peabody High School class ring. Why? Because it is my job to report Peabody happenings. I am not unhappy about the assignment. I like going on treasure hunts and I read mysteries that end with a strange twist. I think if The Daughters really wanted to make me happy for my birthday or Christmas, they would buy me a metal detector so I could look for parts of the past wherever I go.

The Marion office received an email last week from a woman in Derby who had been sorting through some old jewelry that had been in her possession since 1990, when her mother died. She came upon a class ring from 1936. The stone is missing from the ring and it is tarnished; leading the woman to believe it is not gold. She said the words ‘Peabody High School’ are engraved around the oval area where the stone should be. There is a letter ‘S’ inscribed inside the ring and the woman thought it probably belonged to a woman as it is a small size.

The woman said that to her knowledge no one in either of her parents’ families came from the Peabody area. They all were from eastern Kansas, so ownership of the ring was a mystery to her family.

“To sum it up, it is not a valuable ring,” she wrote, “but it could be of sentimental value to this person’s family.” She did some research about the Peabody High School class of 1936 and found that only one person had a last name beginning with the letter ‘S’ — a Bess (Smith) McClarin.

Sure enough, the last issue of Peabody High School Alumni listing alums from 1881 to 2000 includes Bess (Smith) McClarin in the class of 1936. The alumni book listing also included the date of her death, April 22, 1999.

“On the off chance that Bess or some of her descendants still live in the area, they might like to have her ring,” the woman wrote. She also included contact information that is available by calling Hoch Publishing at (620) 382-2165. If you or any of your extended family knew Bess or her family, we invite you to contact us and we will put you in touch with the person who may be willing to share part of Bess’s youth with you.

I think that is a great story shared by some folks who have no reason to go to so much trouble. Who would know if they just tossed the thing? Here is your chance to play hero if you know Bess (Smith) McClarin or her family members. What a nice thing to share with the family of an early resident in our county.

My six readers and I are hoping for resolution to this issue and we are counting on your assistance. We have great faith this mystery will be solved and Bess Smith McClarin’s ring will go home to her descendants.

—susan marshall

Last modified Feb. 4, 2016

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