Civil War soldier’s ring reunited with descendants

Posted at 4:54 PM, Apr 10, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-10 16:54:05-04

Nearly 150 years after the Civil War ended - a ring that identified a young soldier - is finally where it belongs.

A relic hunter in Fredericksburg found the ring - and spent years tracking down the soldier's ancestors.

John Blue, a third generation relic hunter from Manassas, never imagined what he would find on a construction site in Fredericksburg.

He's been searching for artifacts from the Civil War for thirty years.

But he never dreamed that one day while on a construction site in Fredericksburg, he would find a silver ring engraved with the name of a union soldier, Levi Schlegel.

"When you're sitting there holding a piece of history from 150 years ago, it's unreal."

It's worth about $1,500 but the thought of selling it never crossed his mind. Instead, he spent seven years searching for the ancestors of the ring's rightful owner.

"I wanted to set an example. I've never heard of an ID piece going back to an original family member."

With the help of a genealogist who contacted the public library, he was able to track them down.

"They actually said you know there's a Schlegel that works here, and it just happened to be the guy that I'm meeting today."

The relic hunter returned Levi Schlegel's ring to his fifth generation grandson as they stood over his grave at the Charles Evans Cemetery in Reading, Pennsylvania.

"He's an angel. He brought a piece of history back. He brought a piece of our family back."

Ernie Schlegel knew nothing about this Schlegel, until he got the call about the lost ring. Now, he knows he was a carpenter, who survived the Civil War and lived to be 93.

"The ring is going to be handed down to my son."

During the Civil War - soldiers wore rings to identify them - and which regiment they served with - kind of like an early version of the dog tags.