Purse Found From 1954 During School Demolition Reveals Love Story

Things can often have a funny way of finding their way back to us. This incredible story of a purse that was discovered when a high school was demolished is just that kind of tale. The purse was dated back to 1954 but while the find itself is remarkable, it is the contents of the purse that truly matters here. The items found inside the purse would help to tell the story of the young woman who owned it, but would also reveal a specific turn of events for her. The high school that it was found in was located in Jeffersonville, Indiana. High school days are some of the best days of our lives, according to a survey done by The Guardian. High school reunions are fun and exciting events and catching up in the halls, where so much teen drama occurred, is a special kind of twilight zone. Imagine finding something from so long ago, with pieces of the person’s life inside.

Story within a story

A woman named Ann, from Georgia, once found a class ring in an old dresser drawer but strangely, she did not recognize the ring as it was from a school over 1,000 miles away.

However, Ann wanted to return the ring to its rightful owner and so she did some digging and reached out to the old high school superintendent.

Return of the ring

The superintendent looked at the ring and saw that it was from 1959 and belonged to someone with the initials C.S. He then proceeded to go through the high school’s old records to see which male student possessed those initials. After a brief search, he came across Coy Sullivan, a man who had lost his class ring back in 1960.

The superintendent found Sullivan and told him that his ring had been remarkably recovered. The ring was left in a jacket that was put in dry cleaning and forgotten about, finding its way to the dresser of the dry cleaner owner.

High school demo

Sullivan’s story is sweet, yet the tale of the purse is somehow far more intriguing. Bringing us back to Indiana, the Clark County Schools has 20 educational facilities across the state. As such, on the agenda was the demolition of Jeffersonville High School as it was and it would be rebuilt with a new state of the art building.

The high school has been shut down since 1971 as students were redirected to another space in a different part of the city. It was time for the high school to get a facelift, little did the construction crew know that they were about to find something epic.

High school history

Jeffersonville High School opened its doors back in 1913 and was at the forefront of many historical changes. In the 1940s, the school saw the integration of students from African-American heritage – a feat in American history. The building that held all of this history was being torn down in the most respectful way it could be, which was a relatively gentle process; gentle enough to find artifacts in old science classrooms.

What the crew was to find would halt the demolition for a few hours as it was so precious that it surprised the men to silence.

The find

So what did the crew find? As they were tearing down a old cabinetry in a science classroom, they found a small black purse that contained personal items and papers from 1954! This was just the beginning of a story that would throw everyone through a loop. The demolition of the school began in January of 2019, so the contents of this purse have been sitting there for 65 years.

This forgotten item must have been missed by the young woman who lost it, so the next order of business was going through the purse to find its owner.


The contents of the purse really showed the searching party who the young woman was. Inside, they found lipstick, a stick of gum, a pin, old tissue with coral lipstick on it, a compact, card with an old bus schedule on it, and the Jefferson High School basketball team list for the year 1953-54.

While they know a little more about the young woman, what truly interested the crew was the letters that were found inside the purse as well.


The first letter that they read was addressed to a girl named Marty and seemed to be a sweet note asking her to her prom. The letter was signed by a guy named Torchy, asking Marty if she was going to prom with a guy named Paul, as he had heard that.

He wanted to put his name in the running for prom dates. The hand-written letter was such a sweet find; now to figure out who Marty is.


After some digging (pun intended), Marty ended up being discovered to be a woman, whose full name was Martha Ina Ingham. The purse had her wallet inside, with her social security card and identification.

In 1955, Martha was a senior at the soon to be demolished high school. Calculating her age from high school senior to today, Martha would be in her 80s.

Social media search

Now that they knew who owned the purse, the crew wanted to reunite the item with Martha as soon as possible. The Greater Clark County Schools took over the search and used the power of social media to try and reunite purse and owner.

The County posted on the Greater Clark County Schools page on Facebook with a photo of the purse and its contents to try and find Martha or at least someone who knew her.


The post on Facebook advised the people in the group that “a purse from 1954 belonging to Martha Ina Ingham had been found during the demolition of the high school.” They wanted to return it to her or her family. If anyone had any information, they were to reach out to Erin Bojorquez, who was the Public Information Officer.

Thanks to Facebook, the post became a sensation and it took very little time for the search to yield results.


The Facebook post turned into a viral sensation, with a long list of comments and reactions. It was through the power of people that Martha’s own Facebook profile was found. One of her own relatives saw the post and brought it to Martha’s son’s attention.

The son then told his now-famous mother that her old purse had been found and was making waves online with the search for her. Everyone wanted to see Martha’s reaction.

Martha’s life

There was more than just one letter in her purse! Also, the world wanted to know if Martha ended up going to prom with Torchy or Paul. Once Martha was found, she gave some history as to what happened during prom and her life thereafter.

Firstly, Martha has been married twice and is a mother of four, grandmother of seven, and great-grandmother too! But now, let’s go back to prom.


Here’s something no one saw coming – Martha did not remember losing the purse in the first place. Despite having very important information within, it must not have been crucial for her at the time.

When she was interviewed by the News and Tribune back in February 2019, Martha said that she was surprised to have been reunited with something of hers from so long ago, it sent her through time and space and right back to that time in her life.

Prom date

But who did Martha end up going to prom with? Was it Torchy or Paul? It was actually neither one. Martha ended up going to prom with a young man named Carter Williams. Carter also wrote Martha a letter, which she had in the very same purse.

In the letter, Carter wrote about his liking of Martha and making sure she knew that he was not dating another girl she had seen him walking to class.

New information

Carter wrote that he wanted to be nice to everyone and date everyone and just end his high school career on a high note. Interestingly enough, this did not deter Martha, who went to the prom with him. It was the Greater Clark County Schools that found photos of Martha and Carter on that night and shared them on their Facebook page.

The people who wanted the purse to return to Martha were thrilled with the new information.


The photos that were shared of Martha and Carter struck a chord with the viewers on Facebook who were so invested in Martha’s purse and its story. Many people commented on the images with awe and glee.

Everyone was happy that Martha not only got her long lost purse back (despite not remembering it going missing), but that her story got told in the most romantic of ways and that the world could see it!

Today’s style

Martha said that today, with texting and social media, the world of courting is vastly different than when she was in high school. Hand-written letters were the way to let the girl or boy you liked, know that you were interested in them.

Martha said that today’s technology has made it more difficult to express one’s self and that it is not as romantic as a handwritten letter. Social media may have found her love letters intriguing for exactly that reason.