He thought he had found a bottle cap, but it turned out to be much more

Sandor Bors found a Houston County Training School class ring near Rochester, N.Y., on Oct. 23.
Sandor Bors found a Houston County Training School class ring near Rochester, N.Y., on Oct. 23. Special to The Telegraph

A Houston County graduate has been reunited with his long-lost class ring, thanks to a metal detector and a little investigative work.

Pittsford, New York, resident Sandor Bors found the ring and delivered it to James Hill, who attended school in Perry in the 1960s but now lives in Rochester, New York, on Oct. 31.

Bors, a retired New York state trooper, has been metal detecting as a hobby for about three years. He said he has found collectible coins, jewelry and relics from the past, but his discovery Oct. 23 was the best yet. While at Mendon Ponds Park, southeast of Rochester, his detector responded along a driveway near a picnic shelter.

“An iffy signal came across my machine ... one of those that can easily be disregarded as junk,” he said in an email. “But for some strange gut feeling, I decided to dig.”

His handheld detector revealed a nail in the ground, but a second scan showed something deeper. What Bors thought was a bottle cap turned out to be a 10-karat gold men’s ring. The ring’s inscription included the year 1966, Houston County Training School and the initials JWH.

Houston County Training School was a school for black students before integration and transitioned over the years to schools including Houston High, Houston Junior High, Perry Middle and Perry Primary, which closed in 2014, according to the Houston County school system.

Bors emailed Beth McLaughlin, the school system’s community and school affairs director, for help locating JWH. Chris Joyner, with the school archives department, looked through microfiche for a male with those initials in the school’s class of 1966.

James Hill was the only person who matched, and McLaughlin asked former Houston Training School teachers Herman Ragin of Perry and Ed Dyson of Warner Robins, for help finding him.

Ragin, a high school science teacher and coach at Houston County Training School, said he recognized the name. Hill’s parents were well-known in the community and worked for the Board of Education, and Ragin was able to find someone who could get his phone number.

Bors drove to Hill’s Rochester home on Halloween to return the ring.

“I am a Renaissance man who loves history, and to have the opportunity to actually speak to the owner of a piece of history and share his joy far outweighs any possible financial gain. Plus, it was the right thing to do,” Bors said. “(Hill) is a very sweet and humble man.”