The pocketwatch was jammed shut. My dad used some tools to pry the case open, and we found a slip of paper sealed inside, protected from who-knows-how-many harsh winters. A name and date were inked on the paper in faded fountainpen ink.
George F. SmithThe name and date were too common for a Google search to turn up anything. However, my parents thought to look in an old census for their local town, and found a George F. Smith who was a watch-maker and repairman. Apparently it was common for the watch-maker to leave a receipt inside the watch, so the owner would know when it was last serviced.
September 28, 1913
We used silver/nickel polish, clarifying the engraved design on the back of the case. But the inner workings and case were corroded with blue oxide, telling us that it was brass or copper.
Who dropped or lost this watch near the old stone wall in my parents' backyard? Why were they hiking around (what would have been) rural farmland? How many decades ago was it lost? I assume it was lost or thrown away before my parents' house was built, possibly in the WWI or WWII era, when the plot of land belonged to a farmer.
I'll never know its exact history, but it was fun to find out so much.