Seminole County resident Mimi Bruce never met her grandfather, Aubrey Horan. He died in 1938, before she was even born. But on Wednesday she got a chance to hold something that was close to his heart -- the badge he wore in 1916 when he was a deputy.
"Oh, my goodness. 'Deputy Sheriff Seminole County No. 6.' This is so amazing," Bruce said.
The badge was found deep in the forest at the Rock Springs State Preserve near the Wekiva River.
Mike, a metal-detector enthusiast, said he took out his shovel and dug out 8 inches of dirt before he found it.
"I was scanning the area, mostly for coins," he said. "I thought it was a piece of junk. Then, when I wiped it off and saw 'Deputy Sheriff' on it, I was really interested."
He contacted the Seminole County Sheriff's Office and the hunt to locate the owner of badge No. 6 began. Through an intense archive search, the Sheriff's Office learned the badge belonged to Aubrey Augustus Horan, who was the second person ever deputized in Seminole County.
"This is just so special. This is an important part of our history," Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma said.
It's also the oldest badge in the collection at the Museum of Seminole County. The only question left to answer is how the badge ended up where it did.
"During this period up through Prohibition, moonshine busts were sort of the bread and butter of work in the county Sheriff's Office," said John Bennett Lloyd, coordinator of the Museum of Seminole County.
For Bruce, the stories she heard from her mother about her grandfather hold more meaning now.
"Sometimes, I daydream about what he was like and all, and now I have a little bit more of an idea," she said.
Bruce said she is not sure why the badge was found all these years later. But since it was found, she has reconnected with family members she hasn't been in contact with for years.
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