Chapin man’s family heirloom returned after being found in Pennsylvania antique store

Samuel Bolton III, with a picture of his father, Samuel Bolton Jr., and the antique lighter. Photos provided.

One piece of family history found its way back home to Chapin resident Samuel Bolton Monday afternoon. He was contacted by a stranger named Jamie through Facebook last week inquiring about his deceased father (whose name was also Samuel Bolton). Although Bolton said he was skeptical at first, he chose to respond. What he didn’t know, was that this stranger had no ill intent behind her message, but rather, was about to reunite him with a long-forgotten antique.

The message read: “Mr. Bolton, Sorry to bug you but I recently purchased a Zippo that may have belonged to your father. Did he serve in the coast guard?” After Bolton confirmed her inquiry, she sent him a picture of the lighter and asked, “Let me know if you’d like it. Seemed like a very personal item that should be with the family. I had zippo repair and clean as it was rusted out and broken.” She purchased it at an antique store in Pennsylvania.

Bolton’s father obtained the lighter while serving in the coast guard during the Vietnam war in the early 1960s. “Samuel Bolton 348-256 USCG,” was hand-inscribed on the back, along with the name “Ruth” on the cap. “I remember asking him who Ruth was when I saw that, because my mom’s name is Judy,” he laughed.

It’s been about three years since Bolton’s father passed away. His mother auctioned off many of his items before Bolton was able to look through everything. “When we went up for his funeral, I remember seeing his lighter,” he said. “There was a lot of stuff I didn’t get to keep.”
Jamie mailed the Zippo to Bolton and he received it Monday afternoon. “When I opened it, this feeling of nostalgia came over me. Made me feel like a piece of my dad is returned home,” he said.

Bolton was shocked that someone would take the time to restore a lighter just to gift it to someone else. However, Jamie told him she had just lost her father recently and understood the importance of memories. “I get how even the smallest mementos are precious,” she wrote.

Now that Bolton has it, he said he’s debating putting lighter fuel inside to make it functional again. “My son was talking about his birthday plans, he’s turning 18 in March. He wants to go to a gas station to buy a cigar,” he said. “And how cool would it be if I lit his first cigar with my dad’s lighter?” Whether or not he uses it again, Bolton said now that it’s gotten back to them, it will continue to remain in their family.

Categories: Chapin, Lexington County, Local Voices