It took only a moment to dig the two inches of soil away to find a ring, hibernating there for more than six years. Though dirty, Stanley could tell it was a rare find by the way the inlaid stones sparkled. It was later that he saw the year 2006 and the name Eddie Dewayne Taylor engraved inside.
"I knew it was a ring but I didn’t know it was so nice," Stanley said of the ring with 12 small diamonds surrounding a light green stone. "I have dug a lot of rings but that's the nicest."
It was a class ring, not unlike Stanley's own class ring lost 20 years ago. It was at that moment Stanley made it a mission to find the owner. He used the ring for clues. Other than the name of the owner, the ring was inscribed with JROTC. Contacting the local instructor was the next step to finding the owner.
"I would love to have mine (my class ring) back," Stanley said. "By returning this ring it would make me feel better. I'll pay for his gas to present this ring to him. It's worth $1 million to me to give this ring back."
The JROTC instructor at Ringgold High School remembered Taylor, saying the young man enlisted two years in the Army before settling somewhere in Alabama. The search laid stagnant for six months as both parties promised to stay in touch with new information.
Taylor was eventually found through Facebook. By using his name and information, he was contacted this month. Startled by the discovery of his long-lost ring, Taylor was eager to get it back.
"I would like to get my ring back," Taylor said. "I worked really hard to pay for that ring myself. My family didn't have the money to get me one and I had to pay for it on my own."
Taylor's history confirmed he was the ring's owner.
Stanley has been searching for lost treasure since he joined the Dixie Relic Recovery Club eight years ago. He is a newbie compared to the veteran relic hunters involved 20-plus years. Though the club searches for Civil War items, modern items are sometimes found and then returned to the property owners.
Though Taylor lives in Alabama, he agreed to come to Ringgold to have the ring presented to him at the upcoming Recovery Club meeting. Stanley hopes to have the Ringgold JROTC instructor there to create a reunion for Taylor.
The group meets once a month at the Old Stone Church in Ringgold. It's at one of the meetings that Stanley hopes to return the lost ring to Taylor.