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Volume 16 issue 1 - JAN-FEB 2020

Discover the best professional documents and content resources in AnyFlip Document Base.
Published by Colin Savage, 2019-12-30 22:04:38


Volume 16 issue 1 - JAN-FEB 2020

Volume 16 For Diggers and Collectors Issue 1

In This Issue:

Finding History
the Hard Way

Stone’s River
Relic Rescue

Family Style
Privy Digging

Colonial Digging
in New York State

How to Value
Modern Treasure

Rare Massachusetts
Coin in Rhode Island

Plus recent finds
& much more! January-February 2020
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January-February 2020 American Digger® 1

For Diggers and Collectors

Volume 16 January-February
Issue 1 2020

History The Hard Way Page 26
Sometimes metal detecting for old relics and coins can be a challenge. To find
what you are looking for, you must adapt to the circumstances.
By Jeff Stinson

Stone’s River Relic Rescue Page 32
Just outside the boundaries of Stone’s River National Battlefield Park, history is under
attack from progress. Thankfully, a few artifacts are being saved by relic hunters.
By Josh Tyree

A Family Tradition Page 38
Not many people would consider digging out an old privy as a good chance for
family bonding, but three generations of this family would disagree.
By Tessie Schoff

Pound the Ground Page 44
It was the most anticipated USA event in recent memory, with a huge number of
attendees, support from most major detecting entities, test gardens to try new ma- Page 48
chines, food, and, oh yeah, and an incredible amount of historic property to search. Page 49
By Allyson Cohen
For What It’s Worth
Although relatively few active hobby detectorists sell their finds, it is important to
know the values for insurance purposes. This is easily done with coins and jewelry.
By Bob Turner

A Pine Tree in Rhode Island Page 53
Every digger has a bucket list of items they hope to find one day. But what about
the items so rare they never even make the list?
By Peter Sorrell

2 American Digger® Vol. 16, Issue 1

American D-Mail………4 Founded in 2004 by those that love the hobby

Q&A....……….….……....8 Publisher

Stumpt.............................10 Butch Holcombe

Just Dug……………......12 Marketing Director

Reviews........................59 Anita Holcombe

Current Events..............62 Photographer/Consultant

Below the Surface..........64 Charles S. Harris

News-n-Views................66 Senior Editor

Talking Points................68 Bob Roach

Trading Post…………..71 Copy Editors

The Hole Truth………..72 Bill Baab Teresa Harris

Cover Photo Eric Garland Steve Zazulyk
Field Representatives (USA)
On the cover: A 1914 religious order
silver ring, a ca. 1861-1864 Confederate Northeast Southeast
artillery shell, an 1850s Virginia militia
sash plate, a 1652 Pine Tree shilling, a War Allyson Cohen Heath Jones
of 1812-era Artillery Regiment button, a
stone Paleo “Pelican” projectile (circa Videographer
10,000 BP), 1830s Massachusetts militia
shako plate, and an 1853 one-dollar gold Riley Bryant
coin. In the background, a privy dig is
shown in progress. All this and more is in Webmaster

this issue of American Digger®! Randy Dickerson
Photos by Matt Bennet, Allyson Cohen, Nate Long,
Gary Persinger, Tessie Schoff, Ryan Smarr, Peter James Cecil, Dennis Cox, Bill Dancy, William Leigh III,
Jeff Lubert, Pam Lynch, Jack Melton, Mike O’Donnell,
Sorrell, Mike Speiser, and Robert Underwood. Mike Singer, Pete Schichtel, M.A. Shafer, Bob Spratley,
Jim Thomas, Don Troiani.

Our Mission:
“To promote the responsible excavation and
collecting of all artifacts related to America.”

American Digger® (ISSN# 1551-5737)

published bi-monthly by Greybird Publishers, LLC
PO Box 126, Acworth, GA 30101.
(770) 362-8671.

Periodical postage paid at Acworth, GA
and at additional mailing offices.

Send address changes to:

American Digger® ,
P O Box 126, Acworth, GA 30101
We respect our readers’ privacy, and
never sell, rent, or publicize subscribers’

names or addresses.
Yearly print subscriptions

USA, $38.95
Canada, $58.95; Europe $78.95
Yearly digital subscriptions $20.95
Mail subscription payment to:

American Digger® Magazine
PO Box 126

Acworth, GA 30101
Or pay online at:
Phone orders also welcome using most major
credit cards: (770) 362-8671
No part of this magazine may be reproduced in any
way without the written consent of the publisher.
American Digger® has no affiliation with any hobby
groups, entertainment venues, or websites other than
our own. While we strive for accuracy, American
Digger® cannot be held liable for inadvertent misrep-
resentation. Reader submissions are encouraged, and
you may write or visit our website for guidelines.
Emailed submissions should be sent to publisher@ We reserve the right to reprint
photos and text as needed. Unless otherwise request-
ed, all correspondence to American Digger® is subject
to publication. We strongly oppose illegal recovery
and wanton destruction of artifacts. Please dig re-
sponsibly. Our hobby depends on it!

© 2020

January-February 2020 American Digger® 3

American D-Mail

Digging Through Our Mail Box…

Got a comment or question? Write or email us!
[email protected]

Past Finds Beepin ‘ Steve Meinzer
In addition to “Just Dug,” which I love and use as a refer-
ence and guide for identifying some of my personal finds,
I would love to see a section for Past Finds or Best Finds. I
would be able to send photos and write about items I have
never seen in American Digger® magazine.
John Daniel Langley
Newnan, Georgia

This has been suggested before, but if we were to put everyone’s “I really don’t think he cares that
past favorite finds in even one issue, it would require a magazine you didn’t fill in your hole.”
much thicker and expensive than we now have. Still, we invite
readers to send us their favorite past finds (please be clear in false claims come from ignorance about an item. Luckily,
your correspondence that these are NOT new finds). Depending it is hard to be deceived by a “near-mint” coin in which
on responses, we will try to find room for these as space allows. wear and hole damage are readily visible. Needless to say, a
Another good way of showing past finds is through writing a full near-mint coin has neither. -AD
length article, with a minimum of 1,200 words and at least eight
photos. Not only can you spotlight a past find in this way, but if Tell Us More
published you’ll also be eligible for cash prizes in our annual Can you just give us a tiny bit more information about an
freelance contest. -AD object that was dug? For example, what was its purpose,
time period, etc.?
(Not) Near Mint Herb McGehee
I was at an antique mall recently. The lack of knowledge Nashville, Tennessee
displayed by some people who are selling at these places
can be amazing. If you don’t know what something is then We try to give as much information as we can about an item,
you should do a little research which is easy to do on the
internet. At least get some rudimentary knowledge or ask
someone who knows. But do not write something intelligent
sounding when you really know nothing. It will not reflect
well on your sales. This time it was a “near mint” 1876 CC
seated dime. That is what was written on the 2x2 complete
with arrows to draw attention to the “near mint.” There was
just one problem, well several actually. The coin was partially
blackened with grime. I guess they missed that part of the
grading system. The actual condition was VF at best although
it was a bit hard to pinpoint through the grime. They must
have misread the part of the grading guide about wear! The
best part, the real coup de grâce ? It had a jagged hole in it!
Other then those minor issues it was definitely “near mint”!
Mark Schuessler
Attica, New York

There are tens of thousands of sellers at antique malls
across the country and most are honest in their offerings.
Others are not. It is ultimately up to the buyer as to whether
an item is not what it is offered as. In all fairness, many

4 American Digger® Vol. 16, Issue 1

sometimes at the risk of being redundant. Just because an Rarely are we speechless concerning reader requests. This
artifact is not fully described in one issue doesn’t mean it is one of those rare times. -AD
wasn’t previously discussed in an earlier issue. Other times
we’re not 100% certain of all the details of a piece and, Never Stop
rather than make a dangerous guess, limit our comments to Please never stop publishing your amazing magazine and
what we know to be fact. But rest assured, we will always thanks so much for keeping the printed format. I don’t like
completely describe an item when we can. -AD reading magazines on line.
Christy Wissinger
Next Issue Boyertown, Pennsylvania
Please, in the next issue remove the staples from my maga-
zine. They kept setting my pinpointer off when I’m trying Being a print publication for going on sixteen years, we
to find the gold coin for the contest! have no plans to change our format. We now offer both
Gary Heckman print and digital, meaning that no matter what format you
Malvern, Ohio prefer, American Digger® will always deliver. -AD

James I. ‘Bud’ Robertson Jr. D.P. Newton
6/18/30-11/2/19 7/20/53-10/08/19

James I. ‘Bud’ Robertson Jr. (“Doctor Bud” to his A lifelong resident of the White Oak area of Stafford
many friends and associates) was more than a Dis- County Virginia, D.P. began relic hunting with his
tinguished Alumni Professor Emeritus of History at dad, Pat, in 1961. From then until the mid 1990s,
Virginia Tech. Through numerous award-winning when his dad’s health began to fail, they hunted
books, television and radio work, and lectures, he almost everyday together, forming an unbreak-
tirelessly shared his passion for Civil War history. In able bond. They never sold a single relic, but did
addition to being recipient of numerous awards and give a few cherished pieces to friends and family
honors, Robertson was the founding director of the to aid them with their collections, and amassed
Virginia Center for Civil War Studies, served as an an amazing amount of artifacts. The Newton col-
executive committee member of the Virginia Sesqui- lection became widely known in the relic hunting
centennial of the American Civil War Commission, community and people would come from all over
as executive producer of “Virginia in the Civil War: to view and learn from D.P. and Pat about what
A Sesquicentennial Remembrance” (a complimen- items were and what they were used for. The
tary DVD provided to every school and library in the desire to share his knowledge prompted D.P. to
Commonwealth), and served as chief historical con- acquire and restore an old schoolhouse into the
sultant for the movie, “Gods and Generals.” White Oak Museum so that the public would have
access to a huge array of maps, records, and Civil
“The next generations must have a knowledge War items on display from the encampments in
of the past,” Robertson has been quoted as say- and around the Fredericksburg area. The muse-
ing. “If you do not know where you have been, you um is now closed, another victim of the times.
have no idea where you should go.”
Dave Harper
Photo by Hal Jespersen
January-February 2020 American Digger® 5

Good Advice • A larger hole can ensure that it comes out whole
I had decided to return yet again to a camp I’ve been • That signal under the root and rock doesn’t care if you
working for years, a go-to spot when I only have a few
hours. It was my first dig in a while and even though the are careful...but you might in hindsight
surface signals are diminishing with every trip, I was still • Knowing the ground means knowing how they sound
able to get my coil over and recover a few relics. The few • A hut usually has an associated fire pit
test holes dug into the parched Virginia soil, in hopes of • A fire pit usually has an associated hut
finding one more hut or fire pit, resulted in some broken • Huts wear me out faster now than ten years ago
inkwells and other bottle remains. In between signals (and • Fatigue and exhaustion is inversely proportional to the
it was more time than I would have liked) I reflected on that
spot I’d hammered for years and the lessons learned here number and quality of relics being found
and elsewhere. Thought I’d share some nuggets mined. • Night vision requires simultaneously looking sideways
Maybe something in this list is of value to a beginner. A
bullet list in no coherent order: and straight ahead and vice-versa
• “First thought wrong” can include removing a gnat
• Luck favors the researcher
• Persistence (with knowledge) usually pays dividends from the eye with dirty gloves
• Filling in a hole you or someone else dug pays forward • Before moving logs one should always ask the question

and is always the right thing to do “Is it snake season?”
• Depleted batteries and no shovel make for bad digging • When and where you may least expect it, you will

partners swing over and dig a signal that is meant only for you
• It’s much easier to hunt for the relics before the town- regardless of how many times someone else has been
houses are built on top of them
• A roll of toilet paper is a valuable asset in the field Roland Frodigh
• Drink and food on a hunt tend to improve attitude and Fairfax, Virginia

aptitude There are some good observations in your list that diggers
• Yellow jackets don’t give a %#@! of all levels can relate to. For our part, we’ll confirm one
from personal experience: you are right, yellow jackets
don’t give a %#@! -AD

The 27th BEST OF THE
Annual NORTHEAST is coming!

April 21-26, 2020

Six days packed full of natural hunts, prizes, a large seeded hunt,
awards banquet, hobby show, and much more in picturesque colonial
New Hampshire! Past hunts have produced a wide array of colonial-era

artifacts and this year will be no different!

Sign up for one day or all week at
www. or call (603) 876-4443
Email [email protected]

Be sure and visit us on American Digger Day, Thursday, April
23 aka BUTCH’S BIRTHDAY! Lots of prizes and fun plus a
special natural site to hunt!

6 American Digger® Vol. 16, Issue 1

Seeking Readers’ Help
I would like for you and
your readers to get a look at
this flag staff finial and see if
anyone can help me out with
more information. One is
on display at the Monocacy
Battlefield museum in Fred-
rick, Maryland where it was
donated to the National Park
Service as a flag staff finial of
the 87th Pennsylvania.

The one shown here came
from an auction near Daytona
Beach, Florida. I would like to see if anyone has any in-
formation that may help in better documentation of these
Del Thomasson
Ringgold, Georgia

This is a “Diamond Ink and disadvantages. The best advice we can offer is to reach out to
Muclilage” bottle. I scoured independent dealers who not only stock a variety of different
the internet but couldn’t find types but actually use them. Most will be happy to give you
the same one, and had many hands-on instructions as to get the most from each machine,
bottle diggers look at it, who allowing the best fit for you as an individual.
told me they have never seen
it, either. I dug it in an old
trash dump from a business
that closed just before the
turn of the century. I found it
in the early fall of 2019 in Wayne County, Michigan.
James Stottlemyer
Clarkston, Michigan

Those with any input or information about either of these items
are encouraged to contact us so that we may all learn. -AD

Detector vs Detector ADDAM’S RELIC
I would love to see someone compare detectors against one HUNTING ADVENTURES
another. Who is better? Nobody has really done it and stuck
their neck out. Offering guided relic hunts in the
John Kostecky Charleston Lowcountry for over 14 years.
Troutville, Virginia
*Families, beginners, & seasoned hunters welcome
The simple fact is that how good a detector is goes beyond *Hourly & daily rates available year-round
basic mechanics and electronics. We have in the past reviewed *Use your own detector or use ours
detectors in field trials, but cannot recommend one brand or Addam Coe and Robert Bohrn together have over 70 years
model over another. With the exception of certain “off brands,” of experience. Call 843-276-8338 to reserve a hunt or inquire
most detectors offered by the major detector manufacturers about our services. Check us out on YouTube@REB DIGS or
are of overall sound construction and comparable power. visit our FaceBook page, Addam’s Relic Hunting Adventures.
How well a certain detector shines is dependent on who uses
it and where it is used. Some detectors excel in mineralized (843) 276-8338
ground, some are superior in trash; others require almost no
skill to master while some would challenge a NASA scientist. January-February 2020 American Digger® 7
All are good in their own way, with certain advantages and

Q&A With

? Charles Harris

Around northeast Florida I have could be delegated to cast new balls two are related. Most of them seem to
been finding lead strips that rather than coiling up the lead strips. be about 4” x 5” or smaller. This type
have been rolled to form a cyl- Time wise there would not be much became very popular in the late 1870s
inder. I have asked several historians difference. Overall the making of coils after the Seth Thomas Clock Company
down here but, having owned many for that reason does not ring true with was granted a patent for a small bed-
guns, I just could not believe their an- me, although it might have been tried if side alarm clock in 1876. The question
swers. They said that, during a 1740s there was no bullet mold available, with for me has always been, not what are
battle near here, when the soldiers ran likely very poor results. they, but why were they located where
out of lead balls they turned to rolling I found them? Since I have done very
strips of lead and firing them. In your Idug this brass frame which has a little house site hunting, my question
opinion, could a musket fire such a brass gear attached and am trying becomes, “What in the heck were these
piece of lead? to figure out what it is. A gun sight clocks doing out in the woods so far
Bob Spratley was found nearby. There is some iron from civilization?” Oddly, I have never
corrosion on the brass. dug a complete one in these remote loca-
I would never have thought of doing Gary Hartman tions, but why? One of the most logical
this with lead strips. I can see the pos- You have found answers is that it originated at a house
sibility of it being done, especially in the the guts of a trav- place somewhere and one of the kids be-
old Blunderbuss firearms which suppos- el alarm clock. I came interested in “How does it work?”
edly fired anything that could be pushed have found nu- and took it apart to find out. Then he
down the bores of those monstrosities. merous parts realized that he had no idea of how to
As to doing it in the muskets of the mid- such as these my- undo his destruction of dad’s precious
1700s, it could be possible if the coils self, occasionally alarm clock and attempted to dispose of
of lead are of a caliber that they used. in conjunction the evidence in the woods. There is also
But even if that system was tried, I can with Civil War the possibility that the alarm clock just
imagine that coil of lead unrolling due camps, although broke or wore out and was given to the
to the force of firing and becoming an I don’t think the kids to play with.
uncontrollable projectile dangerous to
both friend and foe. You might try mea- Still, these ideas don’t explain why
suring a few of those coils and see if they these clock parts are often found so far
match any caliber muskets of the peri- out in the woods, far enough that the
od. Exact measurement will be impos- kids might become lost in their wander-
sible, as they have probably unsprung a ings. A possibility here is deer hunters.
little bit while in the ground. They could have taken a windup alarm
clock to their campsite to wake them up
Lead is not that hard to melt for
casting of new balls if you have a mold.
Even in the heat of battle, someone

8 American Digger® Vol. 16, Issue 1

early enough to secure their hunt posi- machining marks around the hooks, fitted to each other after casting. It was
tions before sunrise. Upon completion some have a slight raised ring and some obviously finely finished, as almost 75%
of their hunt the alarm clock could have have plain backs. Unsubstantiated theo- of the gilt remains. But that was about
been lost and left behind. But if so, why ries are that they were made at the Co- as far as I could take it, so I contacted
are most broken? The possibilities are lumbus, Georgia Arsenal, which would Mike O’Donnell, coauthor of American
numerous, but I think the most logical make sense owing to the fact that they Military Belt Plates (among numerous
answer is kids playing with dad’s alarm had easy access to machine tools, but I’m other titles). Mike says of this buckle:
clock. sure that the master plates were distrib-
uted to several sub-contractors, hence “We would label this an 1830 pat-
Here are photos of a Confeder- the various marks and hook configura- tern U.S. Navy officer’s sword belt plate.
ate belt plate dug in Sparta, tions. A number of these were found in There were no new plate regulations
Georgia, that I recently pur- cavalry camps, but I believe they were a published that year, but since the an-
chased. Do you know any history on general issue plate. These are similar in nouncement of the Navy’s 1821 regula-
these plates or of any Civil War activity design to, but completely different from, tions, the plate designs followed that of
in Sparta? Have you ever seen one of the ‘line in hooks’ type. the regulation buttons. This eagle-on-
these with black enamel on it like this anchor motif was adopted for wear by
one? All help is greatly appreciated. Scott had more: “Lastly, there was all Navy officers in 1830. An altered de-
Chris Carroll some activity around Sparta although sign was introduced in 1841.
This is often called an “Army of Tennes- no fighting occurred there. Search
see” or just “Tennessee” style, because of Google Books and read The Wartime “Design details leave no doubt that
their use in that army. The buckle was Journal of a Georgia Girl. She gives an this American military emblem was the
originally painted with black enamel, account of troops camped at the public creation of a skilled English craftsman.
which was then burnished from the house outside of Sparta.” The addition of a shaped silhouette pro-
high spots, only leaving the black in the ducing an oval interior field was a com-
recesses. The result was a beautifully What can you tell me about mon feature of contemporary British
contrasting yellow (brass) and black this buckle? I was told a military buttons and plates. The same
buckle. Wanting to know more about young boy playing kicked was true of its imitation rope border, in-
the origins, we contacted Confederate it up a couple of years ago at an old side and out. Its solid-cast construction
buckle collector Scott Riddle, who says: house site in Fredericksburg, Virgin- with a die strike in the center to bring
ia. I can’t find it listed in any of the up the detail was something only Euro-
“I don’t think anyone knows for buckle books. pean shops were capable of at the time.
absolute certain about the origins of Darren Arnold American-made interlocking plates ap-
these plates, but, there are several slight plied thin die-struck discs to separate
variations of this type. Some have clear The design of the eagle matches that of tongue bars.
the 1830s style, with 13 stars around the
periphery along with a rope border. Note “A final clue that supports an 1830s
the seven dots punched into the tongue date is its use of amalgam plating to
bar, a benchmark to help match it up gild the buckle. A mixture of gold and
with wreath. Such benchmarked pieces mercury was brushed on the front and
were then kept together and custom baked in a special oven. The results were
beautiful but shortened the life span of
the workers. A primitive form of elec-
troplating, which applied an even coat-
ing to the front and back, was in use by
the 1840s. The series of punch marks on
the tongue bar did indeed function as
benchmarks. This practice, dating back
to the Middle Ages, was being supplant-
ed by hand-stamped numerals. These
two-piece plates were carefully fitted to-
gether and marked so that they could be
rematched after they had been finished,
and then sewn on the belt”

January-February 2020 American Digger® 9

STUMPT! We don’t know what they are. Do you know
what they are? Send your guesses, facts,
theories, ideas, and related correspondence to:

Stumpt, c/o American Digger®,
PO Box 126, Acworth, GA, 30101
or email [email protected]

Chet Brace Gene Sanderson found this coin Randy Schuh recovered this un-
found this odd or token in Colbert City, Alabama. usual piece at a Civil War site
piece in a Civil It is about the size of a silver dol- and it has us stumpt. The front is
War collection he acquired and would lar and is copper or brass. No thin brass and lead filled on the
like to know what it is. Made of stitched discernible detail remains except back, with holes going through
leather, it is 16 ½” long, with a brass a circle of dots around the pe- both sides. It has been specu-
“spout” and carved wooden stopper. rimeter on both sides. One side lated that it may be a kepi vent
When opened, it contained lead balls also appears to have “asterisks” or a canteen filter, but those are
slightly smaller than #8 shot. Our first scratched into it. Someone sug- just guesses at this point. If it
thought is some sort of shot pouch, gested it is an “Indian Peace is either of those, then why the
but if so, why is it so long and narrow? coin,” but could offer no further lead fill? It is about the size of a
Any input is appreciated. details. Is there enough here for nickel. If you can help shed any
someone to identify it? light on what it might be, please
contact us.

Almost eight Photo by Ran Hundley Brian Gilliland Feedback:
inches long, was walking along From Dennis Hurley: “Just got my
this iron relic a creek that has Vol. 15, Issue 6 American Digger®
was dug sev- turned up several magazine. On page 10 Stumpt
eral years ago rifles and cannon- Feedback, Bill Stroud believes
but remains balls from the Civ- the relic I dug [shown above] is a
unidentified. il War and found Zerk’s lubrication fitting...A fitting
It was found this wooden pole needs to lock in place with screw
at a planta- with an iron rod threads; my item has a smooth
tion site in sticking out of hole completely through it, with no
central Vir- one end. The iron threads. The hole is the same di-
ginia and has is secured with ameter all the way through...”
undergone a single small
electrolysis. pin through the
We are open wood. The wood-
to all ideas in en shaft is broken
our quest to with about three
discover the feet of it remain-
identity of this ing. It doesn’t look
mystery relic. like any farm
Let us know implement that
what you think we recognize, but
it is. what is it?

10 American Digger® Vol. 16, Issue 1

January-February 2020 American Digger® 11

Just Dug Recent finds by our readers...

Ina Finn and Kelley Rea were dig- Mike Speiser was detecting an old Adam Schienschang was relic
ging a site near Suffolk, Virginia homesite in Defiance County, Ohio hunting a site near where the battle
and made these finds. Ina dug the and dug this most unexpected find: of Mine Run, Virginia took place.
two navy buttons with her Minelab a circa 1855-1861 Virginia state While there, he recovered this
Equinox. On the left is an early seal breastplate. Worn on a cloth nose section of a flame grooved
1800s eagle-over-anchor domed sash belt, many of these were worn Hotchkiss fired from a three-inch
one-piece button, while the oth- by Virginia militiamen early in the ordnance gun. The grooves were
er is an 1860s two-piece. Kelley Civil War. The flimsy brass stamped intended to allow the cannon
found the 1730s Spanish cut silver plates were not tough enough for charge to ignite the paper time
at the same site with an XP Deus. the rigors of war and few survived. fuses used in these projectiles. He
The finds were made in Septem- This example, in good condition, made the find in early September
was found at a house site once oc- 2019 with a Minelab GPX 4500.
ber 2019. Photos by Ina Finn cupied by an Ohio veteran and was
probably brought back home from Photo by Adam Schienschang
the war as a souvenir. Mike made
the find on October 24, 2019 with

an XP Deus. Photo by Mike Speiser

Luke King was searching a Semi- Chuck Bryant was detecting a site James Martin was relic hunting in
nole War site in Florida and found in north Georgia and found this a grassy field in what was once
his first gold coin there. Although very detailed 1838 Seated Liberty the Utah Territory and recovered
the 1851 gold dollar had a mint- dime. Because of the lack of wear, these two coins only 10 feet apart.
age of 3,317,671, all gold coins it was probably lost not long after it The silver coin is an 1866 Seated
are a scarce find for most detec- was minted. Amazingly, it was only Liberty half dollar, while the gold
torists. The coin was found in April about an inch deep and sitting on coin is an 1836 five-dollar Classic
2019 with a Minelab Equinox 800. a flat rock. Chuck made the find in Head. James made the finds in
late July 2019 with an XP Deus. mid-2019 while using a Teknetics
Photo by Luke King G-2 detector. Photos by James Martin
Photos by Riley Bryant
12 American Digger® Vol. 16, Issue 1

David Jones was hunting on a Mur- Bobby Nuckols
freesboro, Tennessee construction was relic hunting
site in March 2019. During the Bat- an old homesite
tle of Stones River this location was in central Vir-
called Lunette Negley (a section ginia and hit a
of Fortress Rosecrans). The city heavy patch of iron. Slowing down
was building a new fire station on to pick through it for a good signal,
the property and the site was being his first target was this Confeder-
cleared for development. David got ate “script I” infantry button made
a good iron signal, dug down about in London by Isaacs Campbell &
four inches and found half of a .54 Co. and brought through the block-
cal. bullet mold. Photo by David Jones ade. Bobby made the find with an
XP Deus equipped with an X35
Rich Swoger was detect-
ing in Beaver County, coil. Photos by Bobby Nuckols
Pennsylvania and found
this silver spill at the for-
mer location of an old
one-room schoolhouse.
Rich located the site
while doing research
over the winter using old
maps. He found the spill in March 2019 in an area that is now woods

while using an XP Deus metal detector. Photo by Rich Swoger

Jon Tetreault was hunting at a Dana Riddle Robert
new permission at a farm in cen- was detect- Bohrn,
tral Massachusetts. He didn’t ing a site in longtime
think much of the small one-piece northwest relic hunter
brass button when he first dug it, Georgia and, and guide
assuming it was just another typi- in the middle for Addam’s
cal civilian design. But after care- of a few scattered Union Minié Relic Hunting Adventures, dug this
fully cleaning it back at home, he three-ring bullets, recovered this slave hire badge while detecting
was stunned to see that is was a 1864 patriotic token. Although tech- on Edisto Island, South Carolina.
George Washington inaugural cuff nically not legal tender, these still He also found this ca. 1812 one-
button (17-B in Albert’s buttons served to ease the coin shortages piece Artillery Corps button a few
book). Jon made the find on Oc- up until late 1864. Dana made the days later on James Island. Rob-
tober 13, 2019 with an XP Deus. find in September 2019 with an XP ert made the finds in March 2019.

Photo by Jon Tetreault Deus. Photos by Dana Riddle Photos by Robert E. Bohrn

January-February 2020 American Digger® 13

Anthony Taylor found Tony Musser recovered this artil-
this “non dug” Confeder- lery solid shot for a 12 pdr. can-
ate relic while exploring non, as well as the US cartridge
the basement of a gen- box plate and a Confederate .36
eral store once owned cal. bar shot (not shown in this
and operated by a promi- photo) in northern Virginia. He
nent citizen of Talladega made the finds in early 2019 while
County, Alabama who
was a well known sup- using a Minelab GPX 5000.
porter of the Confederacy. The”script I” (Infantry) button was tucked be-
tween two large timbers along with some bits of iron and pottery sherds. Photo by Tony Musser

Anthony made the find in July 2019. Photos by Anthony Taylor

Gary Persinger was de-
tecting in a Fayette Coun-
ty, West Virginia site that
saw action during the Civil
War. After digging several
bullets, Gary heard a high
iron tone; a foot and a half
down was this Confeder-
ate Read shell, shown here
before and after being pro-
fessionally disarmed and
preserved. Gary made the
find on August 30, 2019
with a Minelab Equinox.

Photos by Gary Persinger

Bill Leckie was searching a house Jeff Crone was detecting a Union Joyce Hines Burke was on a short
site in the South Carolina Low- cavalry camp near Memphis, Ten- dig at a 1794 homestead location
country in mid 2019 and found nessee and found this Civil War- in New Hampshire and dug these
these Civil War relics. The group- era Indiana state pin. Once com- artifacts. The crown jewel is the
ing includes several type of bul- monly called “veteran’s pins,” beautiful Civil War-era sword belt
lets, nine Union general service there is no evidence that they plate, probably brought home by a
eagle buttons, and an eagle were only used by veterans. In returning veteran. She also found
breastplate. Bill made the finds truth, these were commercially a U.S. large cent (no date visible)
with a Fisher F75. Photo by Bill Leckie sold by sutlers and mail order to and two silver quarters. The plate
show pride in one’s state. The was about four inches deep; all of
14 American Digger® Vol. 16, Issue 1 cast brass device was found in the relics were found with a Garrett
late July 2019 while using a Gar-
AT Pro. Photos by Ken Burke
rett AT Pro. Photos by Riley Bryant

Ryan Balthazor was digging for Eric Lester Timothy Standifer was searching
bottles at an old dump located near dug this 1836 near Prairie Grove, Arkansas and
Milford, Michigan and recovered $2½ gold coin recovered these two early coins.
this 19th century nautical-themed about a hun- The larger coin, dated 1821, is a
clay pipe. The bowl depicts a sea dred feet from counterfeit 8-reale, while the coin
captain behind a ship’s wheel. Ryan a farm worker’s below it is a genuine 1814 Span-
made the find on August 31, 2019. vacant house on October 29, 2019 ish 2-reale. Both coins were about
in Orange County, New York. Eric 4½ inches deep. Timothy made
Photo by Ryan Balthazor made the find while using an XP the finds on October 12, 2019 with

Deus. Photos by Eric Lester a Garrett AT Max.

Photos by Timothy Standifer

John Lambert was searching a site Lane Prater was detecting a site Connor Bennett,
near North Hero, Vermont along near Rooster Hill, Louisiana and re- age 12, and his
the shore of Lake Champlain and covered this Civil War Confederate father Matt had
dug this Native American fur trade “script I” Infantry button. The two- a day in Octo-
silver brooch. It likely dates to the piece brass artifact, which Lane ber 2019 that
18th century. Such items were dug in September 2019, registered they’ll not soon
used by French and English trad- forget. After  dig-
ers to trade with the indigenous “57” on his Garrett AT Max. ging his first
people of the area in exchange for three-cent coin
furs. John made the find in Octo- Photo by Lane Prater in the Indiana
ber 2019 with a Garrett AT Max. farm field, Con-
ner followed up
Photo by John Lambert with his first gold
coin, an 1853 one-dollar gold piece.
Doug Hayes was detecting a site near Cleveland, Tennessee and recov- During the same hunt, Matt found
ered this “CS” marked spur. These were manufactured by the Memphis his first trime. The finds were made
Novelty Works for the Confederacy. The rowel was found in the same with a Garrett AT Pro metal detector.
hole and has been reattached by the digger. Doug made the find in Octo-
Photos by Matt Bennett
ber 2019 while using a White’s Pro 3 detector. Photos by Charlie Harris

January-February 2020 American Digger® 15

Dan Patterson was exploring a plan- Jim Bongiovanni, a member of Pennsylvania Historical Recovery Servic-
tation site near Vicksburg, Mississip- es, recently hunted a home built in the mid-1700s located in Montgomery
pi and found evidence of those who County, Pennsylvania. From the 1930s until 1980 noted artists Ruth Fin-
were here long before the plantation gal Rosenquist and Serena Slocum resided in this home. While searching
existed. The stone celt is 5¼ inches a bottle dump at the back of the property, Jim raked out what appears to
long and dates to the Woodland era, be a small lead statue of the Mother Mary and Baby Jesus, most likely
1000 BC-1000 AD. It was eyeballed a discarded piece of artwork from one of the two artists. Pennsylvania
on top of a field row in November Historical Recovery Services is a free relic recovery service where finds
2019. Photo by Dan Patterson are documented and returned to the homeowner. Photos by Jim Bongiovanni

Troy Embrey found this handmade In October 2019 Mark Prevost was Robert Murphy was detecting a cow
jewelry while hunting near Dallas, beachcombing near High Island, pasture in Appomattox County, Vir-
Georgia along Sherman’s trek toward Texas and saw a tan stone relic ginia and recovered this phoenix
Atlanta. The ring is made from an un- in the surf. After research with his button. The words on the perimeter
determined silver coin, with only a few brother-in-law, Robert Underwood, are “JE RENAIS DE MES CEN-
letters of the legend “United States of the artifact was determined to be a DRES” (“I rose from my own ash-
America” visible. As there are no old transitional Paleo “Pelican” projec- es”). These one-piece buttons were
homeplaces or farms on this piece tile, circa 10,000 BP. This twenty ordered by King Christophe of Haiti
of land, Troy is hoping it was lost by miles of beach is considered to be for his troops. After Christophe’s
a soldier. Pam Huskey, an authority an archaeological “redeposit” site. death by suicide in 1820, the unde-
of antique jewelry, notes that rings A doctoral dissertation was written livered buttons were purchased by
made from coins existed as early as on it in 1999 (which examined local a trading company bound for the
the Roman Empire. Troy made the collections of Paleo relics, including U.S. West Coast. From there they
find in October 2019 with a Minelab over 100 Clovis projectiles that had were circulated across North Amer-
washed up) in order to pinpoint the ica, mostly through trade with the
Equinox 800. Photo by Troy Embrey 14,000-8,000 BP offshore site which Native Americans. Robert made the
was 55 km from the present shore- find on October 5, 2019 with an XP
16 American Digger® Vol. 16, Issue 1
line in the Holocene epoch. Deus. Photo by Robert Murphy

Photo by Robert Underwood

Jon Gosling was metal detecting a Bill Hayes was detecting an old James Stottlemyer was digging for
forgotten steam train “water stop” house site in Muskingum County, bottles and eyeballed this mid-20th
in New Smyrna Beach, Florida and Ohio and recovered this 1940 century “Triple A” license plate
was rewarded with this piece of Ohio Registered Chauffeur badge topper. It reads “Ypsilanti Branch/
railroad history. Known as a “pan- in June 2019. Then, in August, AAA Michigan/Detroit Auto Club”
cake lock,” this one has the logo he was hunting a different site and is enameled copper. James
of the American Locomotive Com- that dated back to 1805 in Lick- made the find in October 2019 in
pany. The company was created ing County, Ohio and found this Wayne County, Michigan. Photo by
in 1901 and the padlock dates to 1900 Barber dime. Both finds
soon thereafter. Jon found it on Oc- were made while using an XP James Stottlemyer.
tober 28, 2019 at about six inches
deep while using a Garrett AT Pro. Deus. Photos by Bill Hayes

Photo by Jon Gosling

Kenny Rogers was detecting a loca-
tion in Sugar Valley, Georgia and re-
covered this WWII era U.S. Army En-
gineer’s buckle for a canvas belt. He
made the find in October 2019 with a
Garrett AT Pro. Photo by Charlie Harris

Nate Long had an interesting two days of digging and sifting a creek in Bobby Nuckols found this
Maryland, as seen by these finds. One of the silver rings has a heart motif, 1807 Draped Bust dime while
and the other is marked “Iglesia Cristo,” a religious order founded on July 27 detecting near Richmond, Vir-
1914 in the Philippines. Nate also found over 1,000 coins during the dig, in- ginia in late 2019. This is his old-
cluding wheat and memorial cents, an Indian Head cent, a silver Roosevelt est American silver coin. Bobby
made the find while using an XP
dime, and a Buffalo nickel. Nate made the finds in October 2019.
Deus. Photo by Bobby Nuckols
Photos by Nate Long

January-February 2020 American Digger® 17

On November 16, 2019 cousins David Justin Heimes was metal detecting
Pietroski and Jason Jones went on a a colonial homesite in Northamp-
scouting trip for a new colonial site to ton County, Pennsylvania on No-
hunt in Princess Anne, Maryland. By vember 10, 2019. During the hunt,
the day’s end both had made some he found this Model 1851 offi-
good finds: In addition to the assorted cer’s sword belt plate about two
relics they dug (shown above), David’s inches deep and on its side. The
best finds were two Draped Bust large plate was found nowhere near any
cents (one dated 1798) and a cut colonial copper coin.  Jason’s best find known Civil War activity and was
of the day was a cut 1-reale with very little wear. David and Jason both use probably lost by a veteran, or an
officer visiting his home while on
Garrett AT series detectors. Photos by David Pietroski leave. Justin made the find with a
Garrett AT Pro. Photo by Justin Heimes

Chris Arnold Jason and J.T. Mike Lich-
was search- Yo d e r   w e r e tenstein was
ing a Civil relic hunting a relic hunting
War site site in northern a Confed-
in Bedford Virginia, where erate site
County, Ten- the younger near Salem
nessee re- Yo d e r   r e - Virginia and
cently and covered this recovered this South Carolina Pal-
recovered carved pistol bullet that looks metto Guard button. This unit has
this Confederate general issue to have been fashioned into a the distinction of having fired the
“Georgia” frame belt buckle. Chris chess pawn. Carving on soft lead first shots at Fort Sumter to open
made the find while using a Fisher bullets was a popular way to kill the American Civil War. Mike made
time and often game pieces were the find on November 19, 2019
F44 metal detector. made this way. The find was while using a Minelab Equinox 800.
made in November 2019 while
Photos by Chris Arnold using a Minelab GPX detector. Photos by Mike Lichtenstein

18 American Digger® Vol. 16, Issue 1 Photo by Barbara Yoder

In Their Own Words:
Just Dug with a
Personal Touch

“It was a crisp Saturday morning “March 24, 2019...a three copper “I am an 18-year-old detectorist in
until the sun came out, but that spill that I found in a collapsed chim- South Carolina’s Lowcountry. I was
didn’t stop D.J. Yost and myself ney stack at a colonial cellar hole fortunate to dig this US box plate at
from heading to a spot that had [in Connecticut]. The spill included a Civil War campsite near Bluffton,
potential at the Pound the Ground a gorgeous 1723 Wood’s Hibernia, South Carolina in late June 2019
hunt [near Chazy, New York]. I a 1650s French Liard, and another along with a 100-pdr. Parrott shell
scored a dandy button and two coin which we think is a Charles II fragment, buttons, and other items. I
tombacs then, a few minutes lat- Farthing. This cellar hole has seen then found this pre-Civil War dragoon
er, I got a low foil signal on the many detectors over the years and button at a Confederate campsite in
White’s MX Sport. Keeping my the past few times at the site little Bluffton. The ‘D’ button has a silvered
saying and motto, ‘Dig It All, Save has been found. I decided to check back with a “W H Smith & Co./New
Some History’ in mind, I had to the collapsed chimney as my dig- York” backmark. All were found using
pop that plug! Using my White’s ging buddy, Danny LaMontagne, my XP Deus.” Caleb Kell
TRX pinpointer to locate the tar- and I were walking up to the hole. I
get, I found it. At first I just saw a was totally amazed that I got a loud
jagged edge of what looked like signal when I scanned the rocks. I
junk pewter. As I started to wipe was using my Garrett AT Max.”
off the dirt I saw a pattern around Don Bailey
the edge and a ‘6’ or ‘9’ so I got
my brush out and revealed a ‘26.’
I knew I had unearthed something
amazing. Sure enough it was my
first Revolutionary War pewter
button: a British 26th of Foot.”
Shawn “Sgt Whitey” Sherrill

“I was detecting a new place on Oc- “[October 2019] I went to a site here
tober 17, 2019, and started finding in east Tennessee and dug a few bul-
some old flat buttons and dropped lets in three hours. Two of the bullets
round ball bullets. I got a good sig- that I found were a .54 Wilkinson and
nal on my Minelab Equinox 800 and a three-ring, teat-based used primar-
dug the first 1808 Spanish reale ily by Georgia troops. I was using a
about eight to ten inches deep. I Minelab GPX as some of these bul-
dug a few more old flat buttons and lets were deep in hot soil.”
then dug the second reale. I was Randy Schuh
very surprised to have found these
in northwest Tennessee. I went back
the next day and dug an 1839 O
half dime in the same area.”
Jeff Kincade

January-February 2020 American Digger® 19

“We have been hunting this permission in central Virginia for two years “I was out looking for a new permis-
now and have had some great success with Civil War relics. After dig- sion in spring of 2019 here in middle
ging hundreds of bullets and a few brass goodies I was getting a little Tennessee. I door knocked [near]
confused as to why we hadn’t come across a camp full of beautiful brass where I’ve found Civil War relics be-
buttons and immaculate US belt plates. (I know, wishful thinking!) This fore. I started in the front yard and
permission consists of several large fields and a couple of wooded areas was digging good relics right away
along a swamp. This is all along the secondary Union Army lines near with a few nice dropped
Petersburg, Virginia. I noticed one day that a large lot behind a house a great signal under an old tree on my
that we have permission to dig had been cleared by bulldozer...within [Minelab] Etrac 1859 S Seated
five minutes my buddy Rocky Jarrells dug a nice eagle coat button, and half dollar. I continued to work the
then another. This could finally be it! I was working along with my Deus area and—just a few feet away—an
slowly and started getting some button signals that ended up being small 1876 Seated quarter [Carson City]. It
foil. I kept working the spot and BOOM! I dug an eagle cuff button. Not would be over a week before I could
long passed and my other buddy Kevin Shifflett dug 1863 Michigan return. I headed straight to that old
‘Platt Stoves & Hardware’ Civil War token. We ended up that day with a tree. I was in total disbelief when I got
tailgate full of bullets and relics. We had finally found that camp we had another half dollar signal and dug a
been looking for. We have since been back a few more times, finding beautiful 1875 S Seated half dollar.”
many bullets, Indian Head cents, and brass goodies. No plate yet but it David Johnson
is only a matter of time before it shows up. This is a great lesson for any
relic hunter. Don’t give up on your permissions because they seem to be “I have dug
drying up.”  Jonas Burkes another
James shell
“While searching across the street [my third],
from a confirmed Civil War-era except this
cavalry site, I was able to find one is a type
a Company ‘B’ hat letter and II and has a
crossed sabres from a cavalry hat. large portion
Both items were found in the same of sabot left.
hole approximately five inches It was the
down. The Company ‘B’ letter is in first target
perfect condition and the sabres of the day!
were slightly bent. For being in the I got out of
Colorado ground for approximate- the truck at
ly 154 years, they are in beautiful our Arkansas site on October 23rd,
condition. I found these two hat 2019, turned on the Equinox 800,
pins October 25, 2019 while using walked 40 feet and dug this! The
my Garrett AT Gold machine and type II is a later design that was sup-
Garrett Pro Pointer AT. You can posed to hold on to the sabot better.
watch the entire video of my find It’s still considered a 14-pounder but
at 5280 Adventures on the tapered base makes it a little tall-
YouTube at https://you- er than the type I. Same diameter of” 3.74 inches.” Garren King
Tony Frangella

20 American Digger® Vol. 16, Issue 1

“I scouted out a new area [in the Nevada Territory] with my trusty old “Saturday, Octo-
White’s MXT...Not far into the hunt I found a dropped .56 caliber multi-ring ber 12, 2019, I
Sharps bullet. I knew immediately what I had as my hunting partner had was...on a [new
found a smaller caliber example in a California Gold Rush camp. What permission at a]
I didn’t know was how rare the larger caliber is! I ran my coil back over mid-1700s site
the still open hole and got a few more signals... you guessed it, I dug up in Gloucester County, Virginia. The
three more! [Also shown is] a crotal bell cache I also discovered with the corn stalks and dry soil made it tough
MXT...27 bells from a three-foot area. The last pic is of my latest outing to swing and dig, but halfway through
with the MXT, the standout being the 1858 S Liberty Seated half dollar. All I got a mid-70s hit on my XP Deus in
of these were found within the last couple of months.” Larry Soper the heavy iron of a homesite. To my
surprise, a beautiful French 7th Infan-
“One of my favor- try Regiment of Line button popped
ite relics is a medal out... my first confirmed Revolution-
I dug in Nashville ary War relic. Yorktown is 12 to 15
[ Te n n e s s e e ]   1 0 miles away and it is believed this was
years ago. The [lost by] a foraging party sent out from
front reads ‘Mexi- the Gloucester County defenses.”
can Border Service Wes Anderson (aka “Wes-N-Va”)
1916-17’ with the
intertwined letters “I got this rare Kan-
‘TNG’ (Tennessee sas patent medicine
National Guard). bottle in November
The back is in- 2019 from a privy
scribed ‘Presented by the Citizens of Nashville/Second Battalion, First in the northeast part
Tenn. Inf.’ It is a wonderful piece of Americana, commemorating a little- of the state. The
known American (and Tennessee) military campaign. In 1916 President bottle is embossed,
Wilson ordered General John ‘Blackjack’ Pershing to lead the U.S. Army “BEAUCHAMP’S/RUM & QUININE
into Mexico in an attempt to capture Pancho Villa, who had raided a New TONIC/FOR THE HAIR.” This is
Mexico border town, killing a number of American soldiers and civilians. In only the second known example
support of the regular army, President Wilson also mobilized state Nation- of this bottle. I found an ad for the
al Guard units to secure the border. Tennessee was one of those states, hair tonic, complete with testimo-
sending its 1st and 3rd Guard Regiments. Ultimately, the pursuit of Villa nial, in the October 11, 1900 issue
was unsuccessful and all U.S. troops were withdrawn from Mexico and of the Holton Recorder. The five-
the campaign abandoned in 1917. When I dug the medal 10 years ago, foot deep privy was located using a
I searched the internet for hours trying to learn more about it. I could not spring steel probe.” Ed Stewart
find a single reference to this particular medal. Moreover, as a member of
the Middle Tennessee Metal Detecting Club for more than 30 years, I have
seen thousands of relics brought in, but never have I seen a similar medal.
Until last month [October 2019].

“On the other side of Nashville, seven miles from where I found the first
medal, I dug another one (shown here). One wonders what the statistical
chances are of the same hunter finding a second one of this obviously
very scarce medal? I’m just glad I did!” Bill Siesser

January-February 2020 American Digger® 21

“[Here are] my finds from a farm
field in northern Illinois this spring
[2019]. The 1870s plat map had
one homestead but I went to the
local museum to research an ear-
lier plat map from the 1850s which
revealed four homesteads...firsts
for me included a 1835 Capped
Bust dime, 1876 Seated dime,
1853 half dime, and two Flying
Eagle pennies (1857 and 1858).
Also found were a bent 1816 Sir
Issac Brook ‘Hero of Up’ Cana-
dian ½ penny, 1845 merchant to-
ken (Burbank and Shaw Chicago,
IL.), 1850 Bank of Upper Canada
penny, and [not shown here] eight Indian Head pennies (the earliest is
1864). This site also had several buttons (including Civil War ones) as
well as an arrowhead. I use a White’s Spectra V3.” Joe Severson

“I found these six coins all in one “I’ve been fortunate this summer. I
hole. They just kept popping out! grew up focusing on Civil War rel-
Two of them (on the right) were ics but switched gears this sum-
initially stuck together when I mer, focusing mainly on colonial-
found them. I was able to get era artifacts. A couple months ago I
them to pop apart when I was at was lucky enough to recover a late
home. The large cents date 1822, 16th–early 17th century poesy ring
1825, 1835, 1837, and 1846. The in a prominent Virginia waterway.
half dime is an 1847 and has al- The engraving inside reads, ‘Re-
most no wear on it, so I think that member thy creator in thy youth’
these coins were lost sometime in 1847-48. I was able to capture this (Ecclesiastes 12:1). I was also
experience on video and uploaded it to my YouTube channel ‘Amphibious lucky enough to recover five cobs
Detecting’... this is one of the most heart-racing experiences I in the immediate area.”
have had. I was using an XP Deus and it rang up a ‘93.’ They Daniel Rohrig
were about 7-8 inches down and I was using the stock 9-inch
coil. This occurred September 30th, 2019.” Patrick Whitton

“I had just gotten my first metal detector ever
a couple months prior to this [March 2019],
a Garrett AT Max, and it worked great! I had
been going to this field every single day after
work to detect... I dug a ton of nails and iron
pieces daily! I also found some flat buttons
and i knew there was activity here because
there were colonial ceramic, glass and pipe
pieces everywhere. My boyfriend had given
up on the field at that point but I knew there had to be something good there! Then when I least expected it...a ‘77’
signal! So I dug around it and threw the dirt up and then could see a little sparkle of silver... I picked it up and saw
a weird shape. It was raining lightly, and a rain drop uncovered just enough...and there it was: a Mexico City Mint
Spanish Cross! I was stoked! I turned it around and saw the ‘P’ and ‘V’ and knew it was a cob! this
point I was in gravy mode. This was my first silver found metal detecting! [It is a Spanish half reale]
from 1621-1746. This is a day I will never forget! My persistence paid off. I will have the whole video up
on my YouTube page this month. The name of my page is ‘Ancient Adventures.’” Stephanie Inskeep

22 American Digger® Vol. 16, Issue 1

“I found this Hardee Hat pin at Nash- “I was down in “A couple of years back my friend
ville, Tennessee today [November South Carolina Kelly stated he had found a loca-
2, 2019]. It was found at a Confed- last weekend tion where an old sheep wagon had
erate camp we use as a backup [October 2019] burned to the ground [in central Wy-
site. Three years ago I found the and walked into oming]. He said I should come de-
top remains of two Hardee Hat pins a small camp. tect it so we could find the guns and
at the same camp—missing the There was no iron from a house site coins that had been lost in the fire...
coveted eagle. I think I went back in but randomly there were deep high In May 2019 we went to the site. Af-
time and begged the soldier to not tones registering on my XP Deus. ter detecting about twenty minutes I
cut the eagle out of my first com- I dug the first target and it was a popped out this 1902 Colt .38 Auto.
plete Hardee Hat pin. You can see .54 Merrill Carbine dropped bullet. We did not find many other items
where the soldier had started cut- Then a ringtail Sharps and I knew other than wagon hardware, but we
ting the eagle out at the top right. It it was on. I dug several ringtails, were very pleased. I was using my
was found with a Minelab E-Trac.” Merrills, Enfields, and Gardners, White’s MXT. Karma Glause took
Michael Sanderson all in dropped condition! Among the photo.” Tim Rostad
these bullets I unearthed two South
Carolina buttons, one being a local
‘UFO SC’ button. The other good
button I dug was a North Carolina!
This little camp produced a good bit
more but, as soon as it was firing
up, it quickly died out. I dug about
50 relics in this little campsite.”
Harley Houston

“While my buddy “I found this 1797 Draped Bust large
and I were on our cent when detecting some cellar holes
way to a cellar hole with my friends, Johnny, James, and
[in New Hamp- Rebecca. Johnny brought us there
shire] I found on with his Jeep, down some class IV
a map, we took a roads. Man, was it a bumpy ride. I
shortcut through was so excited about the coin that I
an old field (now knelt in bear scat! It was found with
woods) next to an- my Minelab Equinox 600, using the
other cellar hole. ‘Field 1’ mode, sensitivity ‘25.’ [It
We turned on our machines; he went one way and I another. First target, was dug] October 2019
a ‘28’ on the Minelab Equinox 800, was an ox knob. Second target, ‘24,’ I in Webster, New Hamp-
dug the hole and out popped a Connecticut copper. Looked at it only long shire.” Walter Hanewich,
enough to identify it and moved on and found our intended site... Later that (YouTube channel:
night I was cleaning the Connecticut with a toothpick to try and get a date Admonish the Metal)
when I realized this was no ordinary CT. This copper has two obverses,
a different bust on each side struck from two different dies. I have since
found out it may be the only known example if deemed legit by the experts.
A lot of colonial experts weighed in and have identified the two dies variet-
ies used to create this error coin. I’m sending the coin out for certification
and anticipate that it is the real deal!” Ron Kiesewtter (aka “bluetube1000”)

January-February 2020 American Digger® 23

“I dug this Civil War-era On October 27th, 2019, I was relic
Union eagle breastplate hunting with friends...It was getting
[immediate right photo] late when my Minelab Equinox 600
in north Georgia one gave me a good mid-to-upper twen-
day prior to the Ameri- ties signal. I thought it might be a
can Digger Chattanoo- soda/beer can but I was careful just
ga  Civil War Show [July in case and dug a wide plug. Sev-
27, 2019] while digging en or eight inches deep I saw what
with my dad and friends might be a plate. I got enough dirt
Nick, Jake, and Harley. The breastplate was around 14 inches deep and was off to see a ‘U.’ I started shaking and
found using a Minelab GPX 4500... Just a few hours prior to mine, 15-year- carefully lifted out my first Civil War
old Nick Amelio found his first ever Civil War eagle breastplate. The plate plate after 30 years of detecting: a
was three inches deep in an area that saw heavy troop movement during the US box plate. My wife had told me
Atlanta campaign in 1864. It was found with a Teknetics T2.” Riley Bryant that morning before I left that today
would be the day! I emailed the pho-
“On October 26, 2019 to to her from the field... At first she
fellow Fredericksburg thought it was a prank but then re-
Relic Hunters Asso- alized it was true and started crying
ciation member Buck (joyfully).” Ron Warren
Payne and myself were
searching an area in
south Stafford County,
Virginia for Civil War
relics. The area is cur-
rently being cleared for
a housing development, and has been heavily hunted for many years... The
morning started off slow; later I was hunting a wooded area just off of one of
the cleared sections, when I got a consistent ‘92’ reading on my XP Deus.
Out popped a toasted large cent. I continued hunting and found a flat but-
ton. A few minutes later, my XP registered a ‘93.’ Hoping for another large
cent, I began to dig, and about eight inches later unearthed a silver
1807 Draped Bust quarter. Buck and I pounded the area for another several
hours without much luck that day. I learned that the Draped Bust quarter was
minted in 1796, and 1804 through 1807, for a total of five years. Total quar-
ters minted during this five-year period were just over 561,000.” Larry Holland

“My son Ethan and I found this 1830s “Dug at a 1909 military camp near
Massachusetts militia shako plate in the Colorado border: a McClellan
western Massachusetts next to a cellar saddle shield, U.S. collar insignias,
hole that I’ve hunted a couple of times. and a 4th Artillery insignia. While
I was swinging in line with the chimney camping, I discovered a virgin na-
remains and got a pretty good signal so tional guard training camp with
I started to dig. After pulling a few brick many of the fire pits still intact. This
chunks out I realized my target was un- is just a small sample of what was
derneath a complete brick so I tunneled found; the place was loaded with
in with my hand and felt what I thought relics once you got through all the
was a hunk of sheet metal. I pulled it out .38 Colt cartridges! Found using a
and dropped it next to the hole...There it
was staring at me with all its pride and White’s MXT.” Jason Homola
glory that it was designed to display. As
one could expect, I just about fainted. I
was using my White’s MX Sport with a seven-inch coil in ‘Coins and Jew-
elry’ mode, sensitivity ‘5,’ four tones, iron rejection.” Ryan Smarr

24 American Digger® Vol. 16, Issue 1

January-February 2020 American Digger® 25


sometimes metal
detecting for old
relics and coins can
be a challenge. to
find what you’re
looking for, you
must adapt to the


By jeff stinson

26 American Digger® Vol. 16, Issue 1

The first finds from the cabin site (shown on opposite page) were promising.

In detecting, much like life, both past and present.  Though I
there are things you can may not have as much competition
control, and there are as those detecting in the more his-
things that you can’t. I live and work torically desirable locations, it still
in a small town in south Arkansas; exists and has existed since before I
therefore, the bulk of my detecting is was even born.   Translated, much of
done within sixty miles of that area.  the easy stuff was found long ago.  
Arkansas did not become a state un- With that being said, there is
til 1836, and it wasn’t much more so much that is controllable when it
than a wilderness prior to that, so the comes to enjoying this great hobby
expectations of what I may find here (obsession), no matter where you’re
are limited.  That is the uncontrol- doing it.  The first is attitude; namely,
lable.  Outside of traveling east, or loving and appreciating what you do
south to New Orleans perhaps, I’m have available to discover.  The world
not likely to bump into many colo- of social media and video sharing
nial artifacts, Spanish silver, or even platforms are a wonderful way to
early U.S. coinage.  Another factor This 1840 O half dime is a rare find for experience the awesome finds and
beyond one’s control is competition, southern Arkansas. It is shown on the sites that people share from all over
opposite page as it was dug at the cabin.

January-February 2020 American Digger® 27

the world, but it can lead to unrealistic expectations and frus-
tration if you allow yourself to fall into the trap of valuing or
devaluing  your experiences, and your finds, based on com-
parison with others.  Appreciate the history for the sake of
history, whether it’s from fifty years back or two hundred and
fifty!  I love anything that I can research and anything that I
can pin a period in history to.  Whether it’s the busted buckle
that appears to be junk at first glance and then turns out to be
from a World War I web belt, or the old flat button that can
be nailed down historically by its backmark, every find can
take me to another place and time.  And, there’s never, ever,
anything wrong with silver, no matter the age!   
Secondly, if you want to be successful at it, do it!  Experi-
ence builds skill.  Learn your machine, dig the junk, do the
research.  Put in the time!  I’m definitely a proponent of buy-
ing the best equipment you can afford, but a dedicated detec-
torist with a two hundred dollar machine will often run laps
around the guy who uses a two-thousand dollar detector only
twice a year.  A detector may be user friendly and have the
best technology available, but success will ultimately depend
on the guy or gal wearing the headphones. 
Finally, if you want to be more successful than your com-
petition and make the most of what history your area has to What you hope to see after chipping through five inches of
gravel. It turned out to only be a silver Roosevelt dime, but con-
offer, you have to think differently.  Now, I like a manicured, sidering that an 1883 Indian Head cent was found in the “easy”
easy piece of ground as much as the next guy, but those same ground not far away, it could have just as easily been a seated
qualities make it attractive to every other detectorist.  If you’re liberty rather than a “Rosie.” And, it is silver, never a bad thing.
willing to frequently hunt uncomfortably, your chances of
hunting less-pressured ground goes up exponentially, and, in
turn, your chances of uncovering the best your area has to of- the manicured front yard area turns yellow with daffodils.  
fer grow as well.  It may mean working areas so thick that you I knew of the location and had passed it by hundreds
can only get your coil to the ground every few feet or digging of times over the years, but its significance didn’t click with
through a little bit of hardpacked gravel.  It’s a pain, no doubt, me until I heard stories from two different older citizens in
but for that very reason you are likely the only person in your town that there had been a Union outpost somewhere on
area that’s been willing to do it.    the property during Reconstruction.  I could never verify
An example of this that I’ve experienced was with a per- that by any documentation, but this isn’t uncommon for
mission I obtained for a property that was one of the old- my area.  There is nowhere near the documented history
est occupied pieces of ground in in my area that more urban east-
my area.  The location is about forty ern and northern areas have avail-
acres right along the north edge of able.  Rolling the dice on some oral
town at the convergence of two of history is just a fact of life for me. 
the main highways in the area.  On it Once I decided to seek out permis-
sat a house made of hand-hewn logs sion it fell together pretty quickly. 
that research showed was moved to I actually discovered that the land
its current position from another was owned by a gentleman I knew
spot on the property sometime through work, and he gave me the
around 1880.  At the time I started go-ahead without hesitation.  He
hunting there, it was maintained by did caution me that a “ton” of oth-
the owner for use as a wedding ven- ers had detected it over the years,
ue, and was used by many of the lo- but I’ve had enough success at
cal photographers as a backdrop for “hunted out” areas that I wasn’t
all manner of photo shoots.  Huge deterred.  He also told me that he
oak, beech, and hickory trees stand was in the final stages of selling the
on about two acres of the prop- Brass wedding band and Indian Head cents land to a developer, so I knew my
dug at the cabin site. The middle-class of the
erty immediately surrounding the 19th century often wore plated rings instead window of opportunity would be
house, and every spring a third of of those made of costly gold or silver. limited.  

28 American Digger® Vol. 16, Issue 1

The homeowner told the author (shown here) that
the cut area around the house had been detected
before, but he was still able to pull out a few good
finds, including this Victorian-era sash buckle and

silver charm (shown in the plug).

A buddy and I hunted the site for the first time He had actually found two small washouts filled with old
in January of 2019.  We hit the area around the glass and brick in the otherwise overgrown field.  A slow hunt
house first, if for no other reason that it was just through it yielded several square and rosehead nails, which
too inviting not to.  The more we hunted, though, the more itself was a good sign, but the highlight was a pair of two-piece
clear it became that the owner wasn’t buttons that he was able to later date
exaggerating about the pressure.   We to the mid-1800s.  This was clearly
found a few desirable targets; a part going to be the area where the good
from a small lamp, wheat cents, a stuff was to be found, but it wasn’t
silver charm, but nothing too old, going to be easy hunting.  Besides
and certainly not to the depth of being carpeted with iron, this part
history that we should be finding.  of the property was covered in
Eventually, my digging partner thick patches of Indiangrass and
moved into the field area near the blackberry brambles.  Other than
house as I moved into a pecan the two small washes, most of the
orchard behind it.  I quickly found hunting was going to be restricted
that the orchard had evidently been a to the small open patches between
favored shooting range over the last the growth, many of which were
fifty years, because I dug a pouchful only big enough to allow short
of jacketed bullets without finding swings.  But as this was shaping up
much else.  When it came time to to be some of the oldest property I
leave I linked back up with my buddy This tiny four-hole button found at the cabin was going to find in my area, I was
and found that he had more luck with site has a backmark used by Benedict & determined to give it my best shot as
his decision than I had with mine.  Burnham, a parent company of Waterbury long as I had access to it. 
Button Company founded in 1849.

January-February 2020 American Digger® 29

This Union staff officer button lends credibility to the rumor which I would stomp down and kick back as well as I could
that this site was a military outpost during Reconstruction. before swinging the ground I had partially cleared.   About
the third time I repeated this process I got a clipped high tone
_______________ that sounded a lot like a zinc penny on edge.  Just in case it was
something better, I cut a generous plug around it and flipped
The following weekend I returned on my own to it over, revealing a small silver disk sitting right on the top of
what I came to call “the cabin site,” prepared to take the plug.  I had dug my first, and to that point only, half dime
my time and cover as much ground as I could get my several months earlier while participating in the Arkansas
coil over.  At the time it was still winter, so I could at least History Unearthed hunt just outside Little Rock, an 1853 and
dive deep into the undergrowth without worrying about by far my oldest coin dug to that point.  The optimist in me
snakes and ticks.   I was still waiting for the small coil for my thought this disk looked an awful lot like the same thing, but
Minelab Equinox to arrive, so my mobility was even more the realist in me knew that the odds of finding one in south
limited. But, as I worked my way around, swinging what Arkansas were pretty slim, considering that my oldest coin
open ground I could find and nudging up as close to the found locally at the time had been an 1899 Barber dime.  Re-
grass clumps as possible, I began to pick up a few interesting sisting the urge to get too excited, I began spritzing it with
finds: pieces of a harmonica reed, a suspender clip, and water as it sat on the plug, and there it was, the wreath and
even a couple of small musket balls.  Although I wasn’t the words, “Half Dime.”  At that point the shaking started.  I
exactly knocking it out of the park just yet, the abundance picked it up, flipped it over and began to pour the water to it. 
of good targets as compared to the yard was solidifying in As the dirt washed away a worn Lady Liberty began to come
my mind a tactic that I now employ as standard operating through, and below her seat, “1840.”  Not only was I now
procedure.  Conditions that discourage hunting are exactly holding a coin that was minted four years before El Dorado,
the conditions I should be searching out.   Arkansas became a city, but I’d blown past my oldest coin by
thirteen years! 
As I continued,  I worked up against a tangle of vines
Although that was, and still is, the highlight of the trea-
sures I’ve pulled from that site, I was able to dig several more
relics from there over several trips that helped date its occu-
pation to well before the Civil War.  I found pieces of a small
spur, flat buttons, toe taps, heel plates, and various other brass
and ornamental pieces.  I even dug a Federal staff officer’s coat
button with a “Steele & Johnson” backmark that lent a bit of
credibility to the stories I’d heard about the property having
been a Union outpost.  

Since that experience, I’ve become a glutton for punish-
ment in terms of detecting locations.  If research shows some-
thing existed at a site one hundred years ago I’ll hunt whatever
ground I find there, including the gravel path laid through it
forty years ago.  I’ll still hunt the easy ground for sure, but I
won’t hesitate to spend five minutes chipping through three
inches of clay and gravel for a solid tone.  The fact that many
won’t go to these lengths makes that signal even more likely
to be something interesting, because the area has likely been
avoided by most detectorists.  So, the next time you hunt a
place that appears “hunted out,” be prepared to work a little
harder and search the ground that isn’t as much fun, because,
often, the reward will be worth it!  And always remember, the
real treasure is the experience.

Jeff Stinson lives in El Dorado, Arkansas and works as
a criminal investigator. Most of his metal detecting is
done with a Minelab Equinox 600.

30 American Digger® Vol. 16, Issue 1


January-February 2020 American Digger® 31

Stone’s River
Relic Rescue

By Josh Tyree

Although the Stone’s River National Battlefield Park
itself is in no immediate danger, just outside of its
boundaries history is under attack from progress.
Thankfully, at least a few artifacts from the awful

battle were saved this relic hunters.

My daughter Peyton and I love to walk the
paths at the Stones River National Battle-
field. Every fall we look forward to hitting
the trails for our journey back in time to late 1862 and early
1863. Peyton (Boo) has such a great imagination. We each
find a stick, which become our swords, and we whack weeds
and such as we fight our way through the woods in the heat
of the battle. We have been walking these trails each fall for
the past several years. We see deer, rabbits, owls, spiders,
praying mantises, and all sorts of other things on our jour-
neys. We see all types of plants, fungi, and mushrooms along
the trails. I showed her a milkweed; you break off a leaf and and I played on the rocks awhile longer, ducking behind
it looks like milk running down the stalk of the plant. Pey- them to stay out of sight of imaginary enemies. 
ton was fascinated by that. 
Years prior a tornado passed through the park. On a In mid-September of 2017 Peyton and I headed back to
sign that said, “Be aware of overhead hazards caused by tor- walk the trails. I drove down by Wilkinson Pike and right
nado” was a huge walking stick insect that Peyton almost across from the Slaughter Pen they had started a construc-
touched. Her reaction was priceless.  tion site to build a new hospital. The site looked to be a few
We took the long trail and went all the way to the acres in size. I had never hunted a construction site but
Slaughter Pen, an area of huge rock outcrops. This trail heard of others doing great at them. Peyton and I headed on
ends at Wilkinson Pike. One Confederate to hit the trails, and Peyton found a rock someone had paint-
soldier, Sam Watkins of the 1st Tennessee
infantry, wrote, “I cannot remember now ed, and had left it to be found by someone
of ever seeing more dead men, horses, else and placed elsewhere. We found two
and captured cannon all jumbled together, good sticks for swords, and we were Civil
than the scene of blood and carnage…on War soldiers again. You never get too old
the (Wilkinson) Turnpike.” The ground to have an imagination and be a kid again
was covered with dead bluecoats. All three and just have fun. On this day, we checked
of Sheridan’s brigade commanders were out several cool mushrooms growing on
killed or mortally wounded, and many and around old logs. It was a beautiful
Federal units lost more than one-third of
their men. Many Confederate units fared _________
little better. The Union soldiers recalled Above, Peyton holds a dropped Williams
that the carnage looked like slaughter pens Cleaner she had just dug. Also shown is
in Chicago, and the name stuck. Peyton a dropped three-ring Minié protruding
from a bulldozer track. At left, a walking
stick tries to hide in plain view.

32 American Digger® Vol. 16, Issue 1

Above, the construction site (in the distance) was
directly across from the battlefield (foreground).
At right, David Jones holds a freshly excavated
cannonball he had found just seconds earlier.


day, and quite warm, and the James Pastor’s finds from the construction site to the construction site. Upon
mosquitoes were out in full included bullets and cannister shot fired during arriving, I saw there were three
force. We had to cut our ad- the bloody battle. other trucks there; their owners
venture short, as they were were nearby, talking. I introduced
getting the best of us.  myself to these relic hunters and
started talking to one gentleman,
The following Friday I David Jones. David said they start-
talked with Larry Hicklen at ed hunting the site the previous
Middle Tennessee Civil War Sunday when Peyton and I had
Relics. He told me some local noticed it. They had found sev-
metal detectorists had been eral bullets and other relics. David
pulling good relics out at the had dug a 12-pound Confederate
construction site on Wilkin- polygonal cavity cannonball and
son Pike that Peyton and I another guy had found a shell. Jon
had seen on Sunday. I discov- Todd, whom I had seen in Larry’s
ered that anyone could detect shop earlier, pulled up. This was
there as long as  they waited his first night at the site also. We
until the construction crew would become good friends and
was done for the day. I loaded talk often about metal detecting. 
up my detector and headed

January-February 2020 American Digger® 33

“I had not gone ten feet when I dug a dropped pistol
ball. Then a few more feet and a dropped .69 round
ball with a large sprue still attached.”

I met another fellow there, James Pastor, who, like me, Minié. Then, lying right in the dozer tracks, was a .69 round
uses a Fisher F75. Around 6:30 PM the construction ball. We decided to call it a night, as it was getting late. But we’d
crew called it a day and we entered the treasure zone of had a great night of digging. 
freshly moved dirt as far as the eye could see. I had not gone We returned the next evening. Jon was there, as was anoth-
ten feet when I dug a dropped pistol ball. Then a few more feet er friend, Aaron Lowe. It wasn’t long until Peyton and I popped
and a dropped .69 round ball with a out a fired .58 three-ringer with a nice
large sprue still attached. I called Pey- ramrod mark on the end of the bullet.
ton and had her mom bring her to the We then got a mushroomed .69 three-
construction site, for I did not want ringer. We also dug lots of aluminum
her to miss out on this!  and scrap iron. 
I then got a pretty good signal We soon had another fired .58
and pulled out a fired Enfield bullet. three-ringer. Then I got a pretty good
Later at home, when I cleaned it, I dis- signal. I could not find the target so
covered an “L” in the plug base. This it had to be small. I got out my pin-
was the first “L” base Enfield I’d ever pointer and retrieved three
found. I was digging bullets that were percussion caps. Then, two
fired in the Battle of Stones River! This Dropped .57 Enfield bullet feet away, another fired .58
is something I’d imagined doing while with an “L” in the cavity. It three-ringer. 
Peyton and I were walking the trails. is thought that these were When I popped out a
Peyton arrived and I showed her my made at the Ludlow Arsenal good signal still encased in
bullets. It wasn’t long until I got anoth- in England. A wooden plug a dirt clod, I called Peyton
er bullet signal. I called Peyton over to filled the cavity. over to break it out. It was

retrieve the bullet, a fired three-ring a perfect dropped Williams
Minié. Then we got a fired .69 three-ringer. Peyton and I were Cleaner. Then a few feet away, yet another fired .58 three-ring
having a blast. We hunted until around 7:30, when we quit be- Minié. Then I looked down and saw a .69 three-ringer in the
cause I had no headlamp and it was too dark to continue.   dozer track. I decided to leave it because my friend Patrick
Peyton and I returned the next night after I got off work, Stewart was on his way to try to dig a few bullets. When Pat-
and this time I had my headlamp. The first target I got was a rick arrived, I took him to the .69 in the dozer track and let
large, round lead canister shot. The night was off to a good him retrieve it; he now had a bullet from Stones River. I also
start. Peyton used a pin-pointer to locate the next signal, and met a guy named Stan Hutson who actually eyeballed a Wil-
out popped a beautiful dropped Enfield. I could not believe liams Cleaner bullet in a mountain of dirt, with no detector!
it; this one also turned out to have an “L” in its base. We dug Patrick, Peyton, and I hunted until dark and found a few more
another fired Enfield with a flattened-out base. Then we got a buckshot balls that went with the round .69 ball to make buck
target and Peyton retrieved a dropped Williams Cleaner bullet. and ball. We had some melted lead and I got one iron canister
It wasn’t long until we had a dropped .58 and a dropped .54 shot. It was another good day at this site. The construction

34 American Digger® Vol. 16, Issue 1

Due to having to detect after construction work was halt-
ed for the day, night hunting was a must at times. Above,
a three-ring Minié comes into the glare of a headlamp; at

right, Patrick Stewart chases a target in the dark.

company was putting a fence around the location and we all perfectly mushroomed Enfield with a “57” in its base. It was
thought this would be our last night to hunt. Jon and the oth- so muddy that Stan and I decided to call it a day. 
ers went on to find several more bullets and at least one shell About a week later, after work, I returned to the site for a
fragment that night.  few minutes and dug a fired .58 and a .69 three-ringer. I also
On October 13th Peyton and I returned to walk the trails dug lots of iron, hoping to find some cannonball fragments, but
at the battlefield, hiking back to the Slaughter Pen and see- had no luck. Still, I had a couple of more bullets and was happy. 
ing several deer along the way. You could smell fall in the air. I was back the next afternoon. It wasn’t long until I had
We jumped from rock to rock and swung our stick swords. I a fired .69 three-ringer. I was off to another good start. Then
could see the construction site across the road and wished I I got a .58 bullet mixed in with a lot of trash. Patrick came
could hunt it one more time. by and we hit the large mountain of dirt. We found lots of
Stan called me about a week later and confirmed they modern trash, can slaw, pull tabs and bottle caps. We dug one
had put up a fence but said we would still be allowed to hunt more fired .58 bullet, and that was about it for the night. We
the location, so I returned to the site. Peyton was not feeling had a few relics and didn’t get skunked. 
well, so she did not go with me. My When I returned again about a
first signal was a plain horse rosette.  week later I saw that Stan and another
Not long afterward I got a .69 three- gentleman were already detecting. It
ringer and a dropped .58 three- was muddy from rain a night prior.
ringer. Black clouds were rolling in as My first good target was a .69 three
I dug another fired .58 three-ringer. ring Minié; only a couple feet away
Then the bottom fell out and by the was a dropped Sharps Carbine bullet,
time I got to the truck I was soaked. the first I’d found at this location. The
I took home some food to Peyton, gentleman with Stan had a dropped
hoping it would make her feel better. Enfield and a fired .58 three-ringer.
The sun later popped back out and I My shoes were heavy from all the
decided to go back and hunt. It was mud, but I still plugged along. Even-
so muddy that my shoes must have tually I found another fired .58 bullet,
weighed 100 pounds. Stan passed and then a perfect dropped .69 round
by and joined me in the mud. I dug A Civil War-era bridle rosette, the first ball. I was worn out from the mud
an iron horse harness clasp, then a target on one of the last hunts there. and decided to call it a night. 

January-February 2020 American Digger® 35

“My last target
of the night was
a fired .58 three-
ringer with a nice
ramrod mark.
Happy that I had

rescued a few
more relics from

here, I headed

Peyton and I returned to the battlefield soon after to
again walk its trails. We had our sword sticks and jumped
from rock to rock. The acorns were falling nonstop, and
squirrels were everywhere getting ready for winter. Sud-
denly the squirrels all vanished, so I knew a predator
must be close. I looked up and there sat a huge owl on
a limb. I showed Peyton the owl; we started making owl
noises and he would look down at us and turn his head
sideways. Finally, the owl had enough and flew off. He
Some of Josh and Peyton’s finds at the Stone’s River was huge.
construction site. These artifacts were saved from As we were leaving I saw a few people at the con-
oblivion in a race against time and progress. struction site and Peyton and I pulled in to talk to them.
__________ It was Stan, David, and James getting ready to hunt, and

On Halloween I took Peyton trick-or-treating my daughter and I decided to join them for a few min-
and afterwards decided to drive by the site. The utes. The five of us managed to find several more bullets.
guys in Murfreesboro, having finished their This was my first construction site hunt and it was a

great experience! This site produced a good quantity of
club meeting, had gone to the site. I decided to hunt with relics directly related to the Battle of Stones River. I was
them for a few minutes, and saw that the construction glad I got to share it with Peyton. I hope she will tell her
crew had moved some of the dirt own children of this experience,
pile. It wasn’t long until I got a and I hope she continues to love
bullet signal. I turned on my head history as much as I do.  
lamp and on top of the dirt was
a dropped .69 round ball. Sev-
eral trash signals and many holes
later, I got another. About eight
people were hunting the dirt pile;
I knew David, James, and Stan.
It wasn’t long until David had
a .69 round ball and a dropped
Williams Cleaner. I got a good
signal and popped it out, then I As a kid in Tennessee, Josh Tyree
enjoyed picking up arrowheads
got excited. It was a large brown and fossils. He became serious
coin but on closer examination it
proved to be a modern quarter. about detecting in 2009. You can
see his digs on You-
My last target of the night was a Tube at https://you-
fired .58 three-ringer with a nice
ramrod mark. Happy that I had
rescued a few more relics from A William’s Cleaner Type III peeks from or by scanning the
here, I headed home.  a clod of sacred soil, exposed by heavy QR code.

equipment at Stone’s River.

36 American Digger® Vol. 16, Issue 1

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A Family

Three generations come together to
explore the world below the surface.

By Tessie Schoff

38 American Digger® Vol. 16, Issue 1

How did I end up five feet down in a hole
that was once used for discarding waste?
You could say the family obsession with
finding old bottles started about half a century ago,
with a teenager riding his bike to another town in
order to dig up someone’s garbage that he consid-
ered to be treasure. And luckily for my husband
and I, this teenager’s hobby didn’t end there. In later
years, my father-in-law, Edward Schoff, would go
on to instill an interest in digging up history’s hid-
den treasures, in the understanding that someone
else’s trash could indeed be something special. He
shared his knowledge of bottle digging and metal Above, the author and daughter Lydia during the early stages
of the dig. On the opposite page, from left to right are Lydia,
detecting with his sons.  Tessie (with only her arm showing from the hole), Justin, and
Fast forward a few decades, and you’ll find
me and my husband, Justin, in the backyard of Edward. At the top are the better bottles from the dig.
one of my father-in-law’s properties, searching for
lost relics We started dirt fishing a few years ago,
led by Edward and his forty-year-old White’s Coin Master. I Edward knew right where we should dig first. 
still remember being surprised by my husband’s interest in Up above my father-in-law’s home there is an old stone
the hobby, but I certainly got swept away in his excitement.  foundation, a covered stone well, and un-hit ground just sitting
We began by watching YouTubers who were sharing there for the last two hundred years, waiting to be remembered.
their techniques and finds with the world. In some ways it’s We found a small ring, a skeleton key between two trees that
an awesome time to start metal detecting, because there is frame the entrance to the property, a few buttons, and the glass
so much information to be found by simply searching the shards of a bottle dump just above a deep ravine. These were
web. We had our favorite channels and diggers, we observed the treasures that awaited us and that we were lucky enough
varying techniques, found out where to look, downloaded to uncover. Together, Justin and I would take turns with our
the oldest maps of our county we could find, and read our first detector, a Garrett Ace 300, the shovel, and the pinpointer,
county’s historical papers. We couldn’t wait to start, and each of us in awe as we pulled up relics from the ground that

January-February 2020 American Digger® 39

had once been in some way significant to someone’s else’s life. Father and son working the pit together. A tent helped
There was one hitch in our newfound hobby. We were also provide some shade, as shown in the top photo.
new parents of a little girl named Lydia, and climbing around
ravines and digging near old stone wells wasn’t exactly where I never should have doubted my husband, and this is the
we wanted to have our toddler—not yet anyway. When my hus- one time I’ll admit it.
band and I began digging together we would, as often as we
could, get someone to watch Lydia, so that we could detect new With permission from Edward, plenty of gear including
or familiar permission sites. We preferred this activity over go- tarps, buckets, an empty plastic coffee tub, the privy rod, and
ing to a nice restaurant. Justin’s confidence in full tact, we loaded up our family’s truck,

Fast forward to a few years later, and now we’re bringing
Lydia along with us, bringing up a third generation ready to
metal detect, dirt fish, and find bottles. We were about to go on
our first privy dig, and I’ll admit to being a skeptic about the
chances of our success. 

We had witnessed one successful privy dig at Edward’s
early nineteenth-century home, and since that experience, Jus-
tin could think of and plan for nothing else in his spare time.
He ordered a book, The Essentials of Privy Digging, by Eddie
Brater, to learn more. He also ordered a privy rod from Old
West Bottles, in California. Once again, we watched the You-
Tubers, gaining knowledge and inspiration from their videos.
Justin was asking me how many bottles I thought we’d find, and
I was trying not to get my hopes up. 

Over the past several years, I’ve found a few bottles. One of
my first was an amber side-strap whiskey, but a lot of my finds
had been surface finds. And until recently, most of the glass I’d
pulled from digs was broken. I’d become disheartened after re-
peated digs and no finds. Had I recently watched two experi-
enced men dig up a rare historical flask from my father-in-law’s
yard? Yes, but did I think we could do it? I wasn’t so sure. 
40 American Digger® Vol. 16, Issue 1

After about two hours, my
husband finally found what
he’d been hoping for: an old
bottle! Not just any old bottle
either, but an aqua ink bottle...

Lydia too this time, and headed out on our first privy digging Above: Aqua ink and medicine bottle found
adventure behind a house built in the 1850s.  by Justin. Bottom left: This 14K gold ring was

I’d love to tell you that it was as easy as can be. You use the completely unexpected.
privy rod, you find the spot, you dig, and boom: bottles! But it ____________
was nothing like that. We had an idea that the privy would, of
course, be behind the house and during a previous metal de- in the location by the slate, and we began to dig a patch that we
tecting “date” Justin had noticed slate sidewalk off of the back felt confident about being the location of the privy. That’s when
of this house. He felt fairly certain that this back sidewalk might Edward showed up. He agreed that we were in a likely spot,
indeed lead to the privy.  and should keep digging. Jared thought the dirt below him was
previously disturbed and different from the other areas we had
We took turns with the privy rod. Mostly I let him lead dug up. I was helping move sod onto our tarp, and Lydia was
the way. After all, he had done all of the research. I helped him beginning to get bored. 
dig plugs, test the soil, and eventually I pulled up a plug with
a 14K gold ring! I should have been ecstatic, but I was oddly I should mention that it was about 85 degrees and humid
disappointed. I hadn’t even been metal detecting, it had been up here in western New York during our first dig. I decided
sheer luck, and even though the soil had been loose in that spot, that maybe it was time for Lydia to get out of the sun, and for
I wasn’t finding any glass. Little did I know just how close we me to pick us all up some lunch. With that, I left the men to it,
were getting. and Lydia and I headed for a local sub shop. The whole time we
were gone, I kept waiting for a text from Justin. I wondered if
That’s when my brother-in-law, Jared, showed up. Jared he’d find a bottle while I was gone, and then I thought if he had,
was also raised in the ways of his father: If you look for treasure, he might not text, because he’d be busy with the bottles. At the
you just might find it. He knew a lot about digging for bottles same time, I knew he’d send me a picture if he found one, so I
and how to date them. Jared helped us start probing some dirt felt a little disappointed when no such text came, no picture to
support our endeavor. Lydia and I returned with food and we
all took a break to eat and hydrate. 

Revitalized, we took to our work once again. I was ready
to dig, and so we four adults—father, sons, and daughter-in-
law—continued to dig out an 1800s privy. Lydia was joining in

January-February 2020 American Digger® 41

Some of the better complete bottles dug, along with the bottle probe that helped locate them.

now too, picking up a small shovel and occasionally facing rep- bottles, a “John F. Henry’s Pure” bottle, and a few other slicks.
rimand as she would “accidentally” dump a scoop of dirt on the We experienced moments that will no doubt last us a lifetime.
person currently deepest in the hole.  Moments that were shared with three generations, who were in-
spired by one man, who led us into an experience not many are
After about two hours, my husband finally found what he’d lucky enough to share. This might have been this generation’s
been hoping for: an old bottle! Not just any old bottle either, first privy dig, but it won’t be our last.
but an aqua ink bottle that was oddly shaped. Edward said he Tessie Schoff is a wife, mom, and middle school English teach-
hadn’t really seen one like it before. Suddenly our enthusiasm er. When she isn’t cooking, playing, or reading, she enjoys tak-
was restored, our gusto rejuvenated, and now we were vying for ing her metal detector and a shovel out with her husband on
who would get to dig in the privy hole next.  an historical adventure. 

And what a hole! We were getting deep now, probably over
three and a half feet down, around four and a half feet by the
end. You could see rings of ash, pieces of brick and old wood
that might have once lined the hole, shards of broken china, and
even some pieces with writing on the dishes,
which enabled us to look up the maker online
when one of us wasn’t digging. 

Perhaps the best find of the day, and cer-
tainly the most exciting for my father-in-law,
would be a small aqua pontil bottle. We were
worried he’d break it getting it out, because he
was so eager to bring up his find! One by one
we took turns digging, and we each felt joy in
bringing some of those little treasures back up
above the ground. 

The nearby creek, gurgling behind us,
made the perfect place for washing up the
bottles, and Lydia decided that was a chore
for her. Bottle brush in hand, she followed her
Uncle Jared’s lead, and the little bottles cleaned
up nicely! “Dr. Pierce and Dr. Sage” medicine

42 American Digger® Vol. 16, Issue 1





TDI January-February 2020 American Digger® 43


for more info visit us @

Pound the
Ground 2019

By Allyson Cohen

It was the most anticipated USA event
in recent memory, with a huge number
of attendees, support from most major
detecting entities, detecting test
gardens, food, and twelve hundred
acres of historical property to search.

Pound the Ground, one of the most highly anticipated out to Lake Champlain, and it was thrilling knowing this was
hunts in the metal detecting community in recent going to be the playground for our restless and ambitious group
memory, and hosted by Rhode Island Relics, took of hunters over the next two days.
place on October 5th and 6th, 2019, in Chazy, New York. The
event was held on 1,200 acres of farm fields along historic Lake All the major detector manufacturers were in attendance,
Champlain and the Chazy River. The views were breathtaking, and they came well prepared. Most of them had test gardens
and the turnout was fantastic. Over 1,000 enthusiastic hunters and experts on hand. There was someone available from every
from all over the United States showed up to participate in what manufacturer to answer your questions, give advice, and, if you
was touted to be one of the largest organized detecting events had a problem, to take a look at your machine. All the manu-
ever in the United States. facturers were very generous with their giveaways and swag.
Most who attended went home with a bagful of goodies; Fish-
Driving into the venue was exciting in itself. You could see er/Teknetics Metal Detectors was even giving away pink logo
the line of trucks and cars in front of you, and feel the excite- hats in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness. Way to go!
ment in the air before even getting out of your vehicle. Once
inside, you were greeted not only by a sea of hundreds of like- There was plenty of time to visit the tents and socialize be-
minded detectorists, but also by a center stage, surrounded by fore the day one (natural hunt) got underway, which started
the manufacturers, club and vendor tents, along with food and out with the rules, and then raffles and giveaways. In between
beer trucks and, thankfully, an adequate number of port-a-pot- all this, you would hear the occasional, deep male voice shout-
ties. A glance around the perimeter, and there were farm fields, ing out low, but loud, “Pound the Groouunnd...”, which was fol-
as far as you could see. The natural hunt perimeter extended lowed by the cheers of the crowd. The enthusiasm was conta-
gious, and it gave one chills to be a part of it all.
44 American Digger® Vol. 16, Issue 1

Cannon fire signaled the start of the hunt, and suddenly Andrew Marxen dug
the crowd dispersed, with everyone off in all different direc- this sacred heart cross
tions to seek out what treasures and relics they could find. during the natural hunt.
It likely dates to the
Members of The Clinton County Historical Association mid-1850s.
were on hand photographing and recording all the finds that
folks brought up to their table, their intention being to make __________
a photographic display from the hunt at their Society. Having
your finds cataloged and photographed was voluntary, but it
wasn’t long before the finds started coming in, the line got lon-
ger, and these lovely ladies were quite busy at their task.

During the day, XP held a skill school at their tent, with
Gary Blackwell giving tips and instruction on the XP Deus.
This was followed by the St. Andrews Pipe Band out of Ver-
mont, marching in while playing their bagpipes. It was some-
thing you didn’t expect, but it was neat, entertaining, and
seemed a perfect fit for the event.

Television personalities KG and Ringy from the “Diggin’
with KG and Ringy” show were at the Garrett tent signing
autographs, giving out swag, and posing for photos. At the
White’s tent, the White’s Field Team had a meet and greet with
Dave Wise, Shawn “SGT Whitey” Sherrill, and D.J. Yost. In
keeping with the history of the area, the organizers also invited
Revolutionary War re-enactors from the McGinnis Company,
New York Provincials. The group had a Revolutionary War
encampment set up, held demonstrations, and walked around

While hunting one of At age five, Liam
several early house Hoosock is getting an
sites on the property, early start in the metal
Jason Kelly found this detecting hobby. His best
silver 1760 2-reale. find of the weekend was
this crotal bell.
January-February 2020 American Digger® 45

This freshly cut cornfield produced several War of 1812 buttons. U.S. and
British troops skirmished and camped in the area where the hunt took place.

Peter Macken recovered this Tony Camillieri found this Brit-
War of 1812-era U.S. Artillery ish Royal Regiment of Artillery
Regiment button. The one-piece button along the Little Chazy
brass button has an “USA” back- River. Several War of 1812-
mark and is in excellent shape era military buttons were found
even though it has been in the there, in what is believed to
ground for over 200 years. have been a small camp.
46 American Digger® Vol. 16, Issue 1

Detector manufacturers attending
the event included XP (Deus),

First Texas, Minelab, White’s, and
Garrett, where TV personalities
Tim “Ringy” Saylor and George
“KG” Wyatt met with fans.

answering questions, and demonstrating their gear. Before the seeded hunt, there were more giveaways
There was also a surprise singing appearance on stage and raffles on the main stage, followed by the start
and scramble to find the coins, tokens, and even gold
by Akoda Ocean, one of the organizer’s daughters. She nuggets hidden in the field. The coins and gold were yours
had a lovely voice, and sang some beautiful songs that just to keep, but any tokens found could be turned in for prizes
seemed to flow with the mood of the day. In addition to the at the various vendors. One lucky person, Bruce Noland
fun, friendship, and camaraderie that one gets from partici- from Connecticut, found a token for the new Minelab Van-
pating in such an event, there was definitely a lot going on, quish machine.
should you want to take a break from the hunt and relax for
a while. After the seeded hunt, you were free to hunt the site
and fields all day, but in between, they had more scheduled
The end of the day was a virtual show and tell, with events, including “Tips & Tricks” over at the Minelab tent,
folks returning from the fields with U.S. and Canadian large and a “Meet & Greet” with KG, Ringy, and the Hoover Boys
cents, Canadian Bank tokens, state coppers, modern silver, at the Garrett tent.
old silver, buttons, relics, and more. It was a huge area and
patience plus a lot of swinging paid off for many people. It was a full day, and it ended with more raffles for metal
detectors, gear, American Digger® magazine subscriptions,
If you wanted to get up super early for day two, you and a lot more giveaways.
could begin hunting the fields at 7 AM, and hunt all day,
unless, of course, you wanted to participate in the seeded Overall, Pound the Ground was a success, and made
hunt which began at 9 AM. you want to be a part of it. It was fun, the hunt area was

Right: Julie Dowd and Helen Nerska of the Clinton County Historical Association
were set up to help record and catalogue finds made during the hunt. According to
Ms. Nerska, “The community on the Little Chazy River, located on the property where
the event took place, was Suckortown. It was settled around 1820 and lasted until
a little after 1916. The authors of A History of the Town of Chazy described Suck-
ortown as a ‘hamlet of fair size’. They went on to say ‘It had several mills and about
25 families and was also known as Factoryville’. The community name was clearly
Suckortown but the newspapers refer to it as Suckertown. The fish it was named
after were suckers who came up from Lake Champlain to spawn in the spring.

“The artifacts brought to our table for recording were of a wide variety—coins
(Canadian, American, and British), buttons (mainly War of 1812 time period), belt
buckles, pieces of farm implements, shot, jewelry, horseshoes of every size including
the Clydesdale, shoes for oxen, projectile points, sleigh bells, cutlery, and pottery.”

January-February 2020 American Digger® 47

Above, ruins of a power dam built by William H. Miner in 1911 on the Little Chazy River, which provided a boundary for one of
the hunt fields. The village of Suckortown was nearby, which produced numerous good finds during the hunt.
huge, and there were great finds made. It was also well at-
tended by the movers and shakers of the hobby, and pro-
vided an all-around fun time. It was not just a hunt, it was
a major detecting event, and it would be great to see more
like it in the future.

American Digger® Videogra- Allyson Cohen started out hunting schoolyards with her
pher Riley Bryant dug these dad, and has been at it now for over a decade.  Her passion
artifacts. The engraved sil- for the hobby led her to create the blog  DetectingDiva.
ver sleeve contains a small com, with the intent of promoting women metal detect-
glass perfume vial and dates ing, and to share a female point of view of the
between 1870 and 1880. Ce- hobby. She was recently added as Northeast-
leste Laware lived in Chazy ern Field Rep for American Digger®. Visit her
from 1849 to 1932 in a house blog by scanning the QR code shown here.
very near where it was found
almost a century and a half
later. The coin is a 1787
Connecticut copper.

48 American Digger® Vol. 16, Issue 1

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