Construction Workers Find Old Purse On Site, Leading To Decades-Old Mystery

In January 2019, construction workers began demolishing the Franklin Court building of Jefferson High School located in Indiana. As the workers made their way through the school room by room, they eventually landed in the science classroom.

As they pulled out old cabinets, they discovered a small black purse. At the time they had no idea that was seven decades old and that it was keeping a dark secret. So what was the big deal about this purse?

The Workers Immediately Searched Through The Purse’s Contents

handbag discovery was like opening a time capsule
JVenglarcik/Twitter
JVenglarcik/Twitter

At first glance, it looked like any other purse. There were a lot of loose items inside it, which gave you an idea of how students in the day used to live. There were some things inside of it that caught attention right away.

There was lipstick, compact, a coral-colored lip-stained tissue, and a pin. Whoever owned this bag had a sweet tooth because there was some Juicy Fruit gum in there, too. Also, there was a Jefferson High School 1953-54 basketball team bus schedule.

They Tried To Find Out Who Owned It

old lipstick found in purse
Greater Clark County Schools/Facebook
Greater Clark County Schools/Facebook

One could quickly determine by the contents inside the purse that it belonged to a woman. Something that attracted a lot of attention was the handwritten note carefully tucked away inside it. Things were starting to get interesting.

The note was extremely old and had tears on the corners. The note was for Marty, a girl, and it was from a lovestruck teenager asking her to be his date for prom. What else was inside this mysterious purse?

It Seemed To Be Owned By One Popular Lady

hand written letter found inside the purse
Light Yagami/Pinterest
Light Yagami/Pinterest

After reading the rough looking letter, it was clear to see that Marty was a lady in high demand in her day. The start of the note read, “I’ve heard that Paul has asked you to go to the prom with him — if he hasn’t I would like very much to take you. Love, Torchy.”

This guy Torchy seemed to have more than a crush on Marty. Too nervous to ask in person, he finished the letter with, “P.S. If you have already consented to go with Paul, please forget that I have asked.”

The Owner Was Revealed To Be Martha Ina Ingham

Marty the young who owned this purse
Light Yagami/Pinterest
Light Yagami/Pinterest

The popular young lady who had all of the boys’ attention was Martha Ina Ingham. They didn’t discover who she was until later after they found her wallet stashed away in the bag. In it contained her ID as well as her Social Security Card.

The ID revealed that Ingham was a senior at Jefferson High School in 1955. That means the woman was currently in her ’80s. That discovery meant that she might still be alive.

Diving Deeper Inside The Bag

bag-contents had a bus schedule inside of it
Light Yagami/Pinterest
Light Yagami/Pinterest

What about those basketball schedules found inside the purse? There were also newspaper clippings indicating that Ingham lost her belongings somewhere else in 1954.

Many decades passed by, but the purse remained lost in oblivion inside a random science room in a high school. The chances were high that Ingham would not remember anything about this place at all or that she had even misplaced her purse after so many years passing by.

Maybe It Was Time For A Reunion

vintage purses on display from a very long time ago
Bill Peters/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Bill Peters/The Denver Post via Getty Images

After word spread to the Greater Clark County Schools about the purse, workers thought they would be able to reunite the item with its original owner. That was very optimistic of them, and then began the quest to locate Ingham.

The journey started on social media, specifically on the Greater Clark County School’s Facebook page. They posted a simple picture of the bag and asked if anyone knew who Ingham was. Would anyone be able to solve this mystery?

Lost & Found

Martha Ina Ingham portrait from very long ago
Greater Clark County Schools/Facebook
Greater Clark County Schools/Facebook

The Facebook post said that they really wanted to find this woman and had a perfect message for those who happened to see it. We think it’s great that this school put all this effort into finding Ingham.

The caption read: “Lost and Found Alert: Martha Ina Ingham’s handbag from 1954 has been found in the Franklin Square demolition. We would love to return it to her or her family! Please contact Erin Bojorquez, Public Information Officer.”

It Went Viral

the power of social media helped this woman find her purse
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The post ended up receiving tons of interactions, including many comments and likes. People were genuinely interested in trying to help. You could see comments such as “This is so cool! Hope they find her,” from user Phyll Jenner Nelson.

The posting started to go viral, and that’s when someone related to Ingham caught wind of it. That person shared the story with Ingham’s son, who would go on to tell his mother about it. Things were starting to get interesting…

The Power Of Social Media

construction-workers-find-purse
Light Yagami/Pinterest
Light Yagami/Pinterest

Many negatives come with social media that range from disrupting mental health to getting scammed online, but there are a few pros as well. Ingham’s son forwarding the Facebook post to his mother would fall into the pros category!

Erin Bojorquez, the public information officer of Greater Clark County Schools, told the News and Tribune, “Marty was found thanks to the power of social media. A family member came across our post and then shared it with [her] youngest son. I’m thrilled I was able to connect with Marty’s family.”

Shipping The Package To Marty

Mailed Marty the purse after finding her
Tim Boyle/Getty Images
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

It wouldn’t be long before the school got Ingham’s address so they could send her the misplaced belongings. With all that time the passed by, what would the popular Marty feel after having her purse again?

Public information officer Bojorquez further added, “I hope this little piece of history brings back fond memories of her years at Jeffersonville High School. The purse was mailed to her yesterday.” There is no question that Ingham would be astounded the moment she laid eyes on the purse…

Who Was The Lucky One?

old school dance or prom with streamers hanging from ceiling
H. Armstrong Roberts/Retrofile/Getty Images
H. Armstrong Roberts/Retrofile/Getty Images

Thanks to social media, the purse was finally on the way to its rightful owner, and everything seemed to work out for the best. Still, some folks wondered who Marty ended going to her senior prom with after reading that sweet letter.

Not only did it become a local question, but thanks to the post going viral, the nation quickly became interested in it as well. Comments on the Facebook posting still asked who lucked out and got to take Marty to the big dance…

Finding Martha

construction-workers-find-purse-2
Inside Edition/YouTube
Inside Edition/YouTube

Only a few days after posting about the mystery bag on Facebook, Greater Clark County Schools declared that Ingham revealed herself! Everyone involved with this hunt was much relieved and happy that she would be receiving her belongings again.

Greater Clark’s update said, “Martha Ina Ingham has been found! Thank you to everyone who shared our original post.” The update ended on the note stating that the story is not over yet, “We will provide an update soon!”

New Post, Same Buzz

the ending of the note was really heartfelt
Light Yagami/Pinterest
Light Yagami/Pinterest

Greater Clark County Schools’ new post had generated the same amount of buzz that the initial one did. Even though they found her, there was still an unanswered question the people wanted to know.

Who did Ingham dance the night away with at prom? Was Torchy, the letter writer, the lucky guy who won over Marty? Did his rival Paul end up winning, or was there another option not mentioned in the note? With each possibility came more questions from folks.

Who Was The Date!?

Mystery prom date everyone wanted to know who she would take
H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images
H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images

Not only did everyone following this story on social media want to know who she took to prom, but public information officer Bojorquez the made it clear that she wanted to know what happened too.

She said to the News and Tribune, “I hope this little piece of history brings back fond memories of her year at Jeffersonville High School… I also hope to answer the community’s burning question about who took Marty to prom.” Everyone patiently awaited an answer…

Answering The Questions

construction-workers-find-purse-3
Inside Edition/YouTube
Inside Edition/YouTube

The time had arrived for Ingham to answer a ton of questions, and she happily did. People learned that after she graduated from Jeffersonville High School, Ingham went through two marriages. A substantial amount of time had passed by, and sometimes, relationships don’t work out.

She did receive life-long gifts from those partnerships, in the form of four children. She now has four great-grandchildren and seven grandchildren. Also, she also goes by the surname Everett today.

Ingham Today

construction-workers-find-purse-4
Inside Edition/YouTube
Inside Edition/YouTube

Now in her eighties, Ingham revealed that she lived in Maryland. She said she always traveled to Florida during the winters. Even with her aging so gracefully, she wasn’t able to remember everything from her younger days.

That includes her having no memory of losing her bag that captured the attention of a nation and made her a mini social media star. Still, everyone remembers whom they took to prom even later in their life… don’t they?

Ingham’s Purse Memories

Inside-of-bag or time capsule as many people called it
Light Yagami/Pinterest
Light Yagami/Pinterest

In February of 2019, Ingham shed some light on the purse. What exactly did she remember about the items in the bag? Would she reveal who she took to the prom? Those were the burning questions, and Ingham did her best to answer.

She said, “Honestly, I didn’t remember losing [the purse]. I think it was just more of a huge surprise that something from that long ago would suddenly come back into my life. It brought back memories I hadn’t thought about in a long time.”

Uncovering The Date

Letter-in-full from her real boyfriend Carter Williams
Inside Edition/YouTube
Inside Edition/YouTube

Fortunately, the most significant answer came to light. The answer shocked many people during her interview with the News and Tribune. The answer isn’t Paul or Torchy, but a new character in the plot.

She ended up going to prom with a boy named Carter Williams. Williams also wrote a note to Ingham, and it turns out he was her first boyfriend. His letter addressed concern over his actions with other ladies, but Ingham seemed okay with it because they did end up going to prom together.

Ingham And Williams

Marty-prom with carter williams
Inside Edition/YouTube
Inside Edition/YouTube

Williams made a few subtle jabs at his competition in the note. He wrote, “I think Paul is an all right guy. But you’ll never catch him, he runs too fast.” We’re sure he felt a little pressure from all the boys that wanted to take his girl to prom too.

Greater Clark County Schools posted a picture of the two standing with each other right after the dance. They looked young, happy, and like they had a good time being each other’s dates. Mystery solved.

We’ll Never Know If There Were Any Other Mysteries In The Franklin Court Building

Franklin Court Building before construction started
visit PA/Pinterest
visit PA/Pinterest

A mentioned earlier, construction took place at the Franklin Court Building, closer to Court Avenue. Officials were going to build a new elementary school on the site.

Construction can be mundane sometimes, so the discovery of the mystery purse increased the interest of the job for the workers. The bag’s discovery didn’t halt construction, as the building is set to be done by 2020. It looks like the mystery won’t halt the new school from being built.