Historic Gibson ukulele stolen from 103-year-old Kalamazoo woman found and returned

Posted at 4:11 PM, Jul 29, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-30 08:39:01-04

KALAMAZOO TOWNSHIP, Mich. - A piece of Kalamazoo's music history has been returned to its rightful owner.

Kalamazoo Township Police were looking for the beloved heirloom, a 1930's Soprano Gibson Ukulele 3, everywhere, from eBay to pawn shops and local music shops.

Wednesday night, police said the ukulele was found and returned to Bellson.

Margie Bellson loved playing her ukulele.  She is the widow of famed Gibson executive Julius Bellson, who was known for his work at the Gibson Guitar Company in the late 1930's.  Since his death, the ukulele, which features diamond pearl inlays on the fretboard, white celluloid binding around the body and "The Gibson" inlaid in the headstock had become Margie's most-prized possession.

"We can’t underestimate the connection it has to Kalamazoo," said Sgt. Mike White of the Kalamazoo Twp. Police Dept. "The rich history it has in Kalamazoo, especially considering Mr. Gibson is such a inaugural part to Kalamazoo."

The original Gibson Guitar Company was founded in Kalamazoo in 1902 at 225 Parsons Street, according to Discover Kalamazoo.  Gibson moved all of their production to Nashville, Tennessee in 1985.

The family offered a $500 reward  for information leading to the return of the ukulele.  Police say the instrument could value anywhere from between $1,000 to $2,500, but the history is the most important aspect of the ukulele.