• 45°

2006 VHS

grad gets class ring from 1936

(10/27/03)Thanks to his grandmother, Avery Mathes has a ring like no one else in his Vicksburg High class, but figuring out the mystery may be a challenge.

In search for a 16th birthday gift for her grandson, Nellie Caldwell turned to the Internet.

And on E-bay the Web site that allows people to bid on new and used items of all sorts Caldwell found a Vicksburg High School ring from 1936.

The seller’s description said, “This is a vintage solid 14 karat 1936 Vicksburg, Mass. High School Ring….With a civil war cannon on one side and a small plaque that reads Vicksburg National Military Farm.”

When Caldwell read that, she immediately knew this ring was not from any Massachusetts high school.

She and Mathes decided this would be the perfect gift for Avery.

He was thrilled when he opened the gift, but said researching the history and mystery of the ring has been half the fun.

After taking a magnifying glass to the ring, the family has found, of course, that one side of the ring does not read “Vicksburg National Military Farm,” but “Vicksburg National Military Park.”

And the arch near the entrance to the park, which was on Clay Street until 1967, is on the other side of the ring.

A miniature scroll on the other side reads, “Fort Nogales.”

Fort Nogales was a Spanish fort in this area and got its name from the Walnut trees grown in this area. The fort was at river level, below what is now called Fort Hill in the park.

According to Warren County- Vicksburg Public Library archives the Matheses and Caldwell have studied, in 1910, boys’ and girls’ classes were combined, and, in 1915, Vicksburg High School moved from Main Street School to a building on Clay Street. The facility was named Fort Nogales.

And the high school yearbook, published sporadically, was called The Nogales.

Engraved inside the ring are the initials M.E.C., but the Matheses and Caldwell have been unsuccessful in finding a listing of graduates from the school that year.

Caldwell bought the ring from a couple in Pennsylvania who purchased the ring from their next door neighbors, who were having an estate sale for their aunt.

Caldwell has been in touch with the couple, but the previous owners are vacationing in Florida for the winter, so finding more about the ring will have to wait until spring.

“This ring went all the way to Pennsylvania and has found its way back to Vicksburg,” Caldwell said. “We can’t find who it belonged to and, of course, we don’t want to give it back, but it would be nice to know who it’s from.”

In the meantime, Avery Mathes said his friends at Vicksburg High School think the ring is pretty neat.

The ring will be 70 years old when Mathes, a pitcher for the Gator baseball team, graduates in 2006. He wears it nearly every day now, but his mother said he won’t be wearing it when baseball season kicks off.

“He can’t wear it while he pitches, and he can’t leave it in his locker,” Cindy Mathes said of the ring that appraised for nearly $400.

And another twist to the gift: His grandmother gave him one steep stipulation when she presented him with the ring he can never give it to a girl.