Antiques with Stories and Provenance- An Engagement Ring that Spanned More than a Century

Thomas Castor

Thomas Castor V.M.D. Private First Class Army Corps 1873-1960

The best antiques are the ones with stories behind them and are not for sale.  We’ve have had the privilege of getting to know one Philadelphia family that traces their family tree to before the founding of America.  Listening to stories and looking through family journal reveals interesting provenance that make items like Uncle Castors pocket watch have much more meaning.  Centennial goblets, Baltimorean printing press, Book presses, Eastlake Furniture, and fantastic antique jewelry have been handed down through the years.

The following are entries from the diaries of Dr. Thomas Castor, doctor of Veterinary Medicine as shared with us by his relative, Marcia.

An Engagement Ring that Spanned More than a Century

The year was 1898, July, the Spanish American War had just begun.

July 11, 1898-“Sam and I enlisted in the Engineer Corps of the Regular Army and were sent to Willets Point, N.Y., on the 2:30 train.”

Aunt Katherine

Katherine Florrine Webster 1877-1940

July 12,1898-“Arrived at Willets Point and had spoiled ham for supper.”

July 23,1898-“First furlough with Sam Hendron who became a life-long friend.  Back to Philadelphia.  I bought Florrie a bracelet to match the brooch at “Bailey Banks & Biddle”.  (The bracelet was of rose gold, Victorian, with a small diamond in the center link priced $17.50).”

October 13,1898-“Samual Hendron and Ireceived our discharge from the army.”  Dr. Castor and Sam left the following day for Philadelphia taking time for Sam to recoup from his illness.

October 31,1898-“Mrs. Webster consented for Florrie to wear her engagement ring (paid .30 cents to have the ring made smaller).”

November 1,1898-“Florrie wore engagement ring first today.  I placed it on her finger.”  Left Philadelphia at 2:20 p.m. for Indianapolis, Indiana.”

December 19,1898-“I bought Florrie collorettes of Persian lamb fur and silver fox fur extending down to the knees, with “S” hook on the end (price $35).”

Thomas Castor Engagement Ring

Receipt for Engagement Ring

December 23,1898-“Florrie sent me a smoking jacket, and a box of cake, oranges, grapes and a plate of candy.”

May 24,1899-“Sam was married.”

March 24,1900-” Dr. Castor was reinstated in the U.S. Army working under the Bureau of Agriculture and the Board of Health as Vetinary Inspector for the east coast.  Only a long distance correspondance existed between the two.  Letters were received and sent almost daily…

December 24, 1900-“Received Masonic charm from mother and father.  Spent part of afternoon in Kansas City yards.”  Dr. Castor attained second degree mason.

The years 1901 and 1902 were spent in the Midwest on government inspections in frontiers newly becoming states.  Correspondence between Dr. Castor and Florrie dwindled to just two letters, and a pocketbook for Florrie at Christmas.  Shelter was in rooming houses, when available, tents and bed-rolls or, more often than desirable, sleeping on the ground.  Transportation consisted of buggy, burro, horse or stagecoach.”

Florrie Silver Fox Fur

Florrie Silver Fox Fur


1903…brought an end to the last long separation.  Dr. Castor was transferred finally to Arlington, N.J. Buffalo N.Y. and Philadelphia.  Weren’t too far by train.

Katherine Florrine Webster and Dr. Tomas Castor were married June 9th, 1903 at her parents home in Marrowgate.  Their wedding trip the next day was by train to Niagara Falls.

February 7,1940-“Florrie died today at Woman’s Osteopathic Hospital in Philadelphia.  Her burial was three days later.  It was sure hard to say goodbye to my sweetheart.”

With Florrie gone, loneliness set in.  Dr. Castor survived another two decades.  His love endured as represented by the engagement solitaire.  It was put in a heavy gold man’s ring which Dr. Castor wore for twenty years until 1960.  The ring was then passed to Marcia’s father and was set in platinum with two large rectangular baguettes added to each side of the solitaire.

Pennsylvania and Reading Railroad

Pennsylvania and Reading Railroad


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