"She could have just thrown it out," Charlie said. "But, she evidently wanted to give it to someone from the Powers family," and she found Charlie's name on on-line genealogy sites. She and Charlie e-mailed back-and-forth, and a small maroon-colored cardboard box arrived in McCook.
Folded inside the box -- possibly a jewelry box, imprinted in gold with the script word "Correct" -- is a hand-written note dated April 23, 1955, and signed by Edna Powers Fegles, the granddaughter of Lifee H. Powers, a Civil War veteran from Illinois and the older brother of Charlie's great-grandfather John Holbrook Powers.
Edna Fegles wrote: "My grandfather, Lifee Powers, and his eldest son, John Thomas (Powers) enlisted in Union Army, as soon as Uncle John was 16. ... Grandmother and the four younger children remained at home. My father, Lifee Frederick, was two years old."
Lifee Powers, his son John Thomas Powers and Lifee's brother John Holbrook Powers had joined Illinois' 104th Volunteer regiment in 1862.
Lifee was wounded in the Battle of Hartsville in Tennessee in December 1862 and transferred to a different company, and, Edna wrote that her Uncle John was killed at the Battle of Peachtree Creek, Georgia, (July 1864).
During Union General William Tecumseh Sherman's march through Georgia to Savannah (Nov. 15, 1864 to Dec. 21, 1864), Edna's grandfather "carved out this stone ring from a ledge or cliff of rock that was soft when first dug out, but hardened on exposure to air. The ring for the brother 5 years older than Dad was larger, but Grandpa was thinking of his boys as he saw them last, and the rings were too tight for much wear."
In 1874, Lifee's wife, Jane, moved her family -- sons Charles Aaron and Lifee Frederick and daughters, Alice Baker and Harriet Ware and their families -- to the little settlement of Hanson, north of Hastings, Nebraska.
A year earlier, in 1873, John Holbrook Powers had moved first to Hall County, Nebraska, and then in the 1880s, to the Cornell and Trenton, Nebraska, area. John Holbrook Powers died at his farm home south of Trenton in 1918.
Another brother of Lifee and John Holbrook, Aaron Ford Powers, moved to Washington State.
In the 1880s, Jane, the young Lifee and Charles Aaron moved to Brown County, Nebraska. Jane and Lifee then moved to Oregon, and then Jane and Lifee and Lifee's wife, Kate, moved to Arizona. Jane died in Arizona in 1901, and Lifee and Kate moved back to Oregon, where Lifee died in 1929.
The young Lifee and Kate had one daughter, Edna Maureen, who died in 1975, and one son, Charles Frederick, who fought in World War I and died in 1934.
Charlie Powers is fascinated by the ring's travels -- from coast to coast, from Tennessee to Illinois, to Nebraska, to Oregon, to Arizona and back to the west coast. It's a tiny thing -- it's amazing it didn't get lost somewhere along the way. "Just think ... this ring laid in a box, in a drawer ... ," Charlie said. Somehow, along the line, it came into the possession of the woman who, though no relation at all to the Powers family, returned it to its rightful place, with family, sending it to Charlie for safe-keeping.
Charlie has no idea what happened to the second ring, the larger one made for Charles Aaron, the older brother of two-year-old Lifee Frederick.
Charlie has become fascinated by genealogy -- "I couldn't have cared less when I was younger," he smiled -- and enjoys tracing his family's roots. He's saddened, however, that records on the Powers line "dead-end" with his great-great-grandfather, John, who died in 1862 in Illinois