READING, Pa. (AP) — A ring lost by a Union soldier from Pennsylvania during the Civil War has completed a long journey home.
The ring was worn by Levi Schlegel, a Reading-area native who is believed to have lost it nearly 150 years ago at an encampment near Fredericksburg, Va.
Relic hunter John Blue found the ring at a construction site in 2005. Though it was engraved with Schlegel's name and unit — "Co. G., 198th P.V.," or Pennsylvania Volunteers — Blue wasn't sure how to find Schlegel's descendants, and kept the ring in a box for several years.
A genealogist ultimately helped Blue track down Schlegel's family. On Tuesday, Blue presented the ring to a distant cousin during a ceremony at Levi Schlegel's grave in Reading.
"This is truly a hero's journey," said the cousin, Ernie Schlegel.
Another distant relative, James W. Schlegel of Reading, said he felt pride as he touched the ring.
"I think about all the time that passed since Levi and so many others fought for our freedom," Schlegel, who served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, told the Reading Eagle. "As a veteran, I know the importance of fighting for freedom, and I'm proud to know the Schlegel family did its part."
After the war, Levi Schlegel returned to Reading, where he worked as a carpenter and helped raise 11 children. He died in 1932 at age 91.