Facebook Helps Connect Family With Father's Long-Lost Bracelet

Courtesy Matt Kwiatkowski

A bracelet lost decades ago by a Georgia man was returned to his children Sunday, thanks to Facebook.

Billy Sheridan, who died in 2006 at the age of 69, was a councilman in Winder, Ga., where his son, Michael Kinney, and daughter, Darenda Kinney, still live.

He was also a star baseball player at what is now Russell Middle School, where another Winder resident, while using a metal detector on the school's grounds, found a sterling silver bracelet inscribed with Sheridan's name.

"It was probably my 23rd or 25th time there," Matt Kwiatkowski, 41, said last Thursday, the day he found the bracelet on the school's grounds after about three hours of prospecting.

"It turns out the spot where I found it was part of the old baseball field, and he used to play baseball throughout his life," Kwiatkowski said of Sheridan.

Kwiatkowski, who said he liked to use his metal detector in the historic town to search for items to add to the town's history, took the bracelet home and cleaned it off, which led him to more clues.

"At first I thought it was a junk bracelet, and then I saw it was silver because the name wasn't deteriorated," he said. "It also had sterling on the back, which made me know it was at least older than the 1960s."

Kwiatkowski's online research of the name "Billy Sheridan" led him to the discovery that Sheridan was a former council member and prominent Winder citizen.

Kwiatkowski posted an announcement on the search page of a local online newspaper and minutes after Kiwatkowski's post was shared on the Barrow Patch Facebook page, Sheridan's daughter, Darenda Kinney, and grandson, Stephen Kinney, replied.

"I got a comment back from his grandson who said, 'Oh my God, that's my granddad,'" Kwiatowski recalled.

On Sunday, Kwiatowski met with the Kinneys and "three carloads" of Sheridan's other family members to return the bracelet that once belonged to their beloved patriarch.

"They were in tears," Kwiatowski said. "She [Darenda Kinney] was a daddy's girl, and she said they were extremely close and when he passed away it tore her up, and to have something else as a memory of him, she continues to send me emails about how happy she is."

Darenda Kinney said the family plans to have a jeweler polish the bracelet and then will add it to a plaque of Sheridan's school accomplishments to pass down to future generations.

"I feel like I have a piece of my dad back," Kinney told ABCNews.com. "My dad was the most giving person you could meet. He didn't meet a stranger and had so many friends you couldn't begin to count them all."

"I know he was smiling down on us Sunday," she said.

The family and Kwiatowski are still trying to trace the roots of the bracelet and determine when Sheridan could have lost it on the school's grounds.

"The bracelet is so small we think it might be from his middle school or junior high days, which would put it back into the 1940s," Kwiatowski said.

"I would like to give a big special thanks to Matt for returning this precious heirloom to our family," Kinney added. "It is very rare to find good people with such a giving heart, and my family and I are forever grateful."