This story originally appeared at American Web Media by Alexander Smith.
Think about what you would do if you suddenly found a large sum of money. Would you take the money and run? Or would part of you feel guilty because you knew that it belonged to someone else who probably lost it? When Josh Ferrin, a struggling artist, found a hidden treasure of cash and coins amounting to more than $45,000, the Utah man had to figure out what to do with it.
Josh Ferrin knew he had a choice. Because the treasure was in his new home, it was technically his. He bought the house and went through all the paperwork. However, he also knew that the treasure was not his at all. It was left behind and forgotten by a previous owner. Would he take the cash and put it toward his art or would he return it to the original owner?
Like so many Americans, Ferrin was swamped with bills like his house and car payments, he knew that the $45,000 would be put to good use. And as an artist, he was always starved for time. But he decided that despite his current need, it was the honest thing for him to return the money to whoever had it before him.
“I’ve got two boys, and we teach them to be honest and to do what is right, and I knew this was a teachable moment that I would never get back again,” Ferrin told ABC News. His new house was in Bountiful, Utah – a better name could not have been given to a town where he found buried treasure.
“So I thought we would have fun with it,” Ferrin said. “We would do something courageously honest with it. Something awesome. It’s been a great thing for us and our kids.”
Ferrin found the hidden treasure in what was to be his new “man-cave.” He opened the access panel and found the cash.
“I thought, maybe this could be a little hidey-hole that had been finished, and my kids could go up there and play,” he said.
That’s when he tried to open the space and realized that it was so much more than just a play area for his children.
“I grabbed the thing. It was heavy. I thought it might be holding down some pieces of wood or something.”
Instead, it was loaded with dollar bills and coins.
“I opened it up, freaked out, closed it, locked it in the trunk of my car and called my wife to say, ‘You are not going to believe what I just found in our attic.’”
It has been an adventure for Josh and his family to find the original owner, who turned out to be Arnold Bangerter. He was a father of six who died last November. He worked at the Department of Fish and Game and was saving cash in that spot for the last decade.
“I am an artist and an author, so I know what it’s like to work on something for a long time,” Ferrin said.
He returned the money to Bangerter’s family.
“This is a story that I will tell forever,” Ferrin said.