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The Digger :Your Metal Detecting Newsletter
May 02, 2021

Sorry, the April edition of “The Digger” is a few days late.

Chicken and Biscuits, Rhubarb Pie, and Much, Much More

I received a phone call from a kind, elderly woman seeking an answer that she and her daughters had wondered about since the passing of their father and husband.

Nellie was a eighty-eight-year-old woman that lived alone in the old farmhouse that once belonged to her grandparents. My name was given to her by a relative that lived in a town not far from Nellie. I was asked by the relative to search for a treasure that may have been hidden somewhere on the property. Although nothing was found, I must have made a good impression because my name was passed on to Nellie. After speaking for a few minutes on the phone, Nellie asked if I would search for a possible treasure buried on her property by her late husband. Fortunately, I lived a half-hour away from her, and because she sounded honest and passionate about a treasure, I decided to visit her to find out more before I decided to help her.

When I arrived at Nellie’s home she was sitting on the front porch. The farmhouse was colonial style. It was built in 1891. The barn was in need of repairs, and Nellie told me she might sell the barn to a builder that wanted to use the barn wood in his work. The farm consisted of 110 acres but had not been cultivated in years. Nellie told me her husband died two years ago. After a few minutes, her calm attitude abruptly changed to anger. Her voice turned from a relaxed to a harsh tone. She said, “my husband never gave me any money and never bought the kids anything. He worked the farm hard for years, and I know he did well. But the son-of-a-bitch never gave us a cent. My three girls and I believe the son-of-a-bitch hid his money somewhere on this farm. I need your help in finding it. Now come inside and have some fresh apple pie I just baked.”

Not wanting to turn down that pie and wanting to know more about the treasure that Nellie and her daughters believed was hidden on the farm, I followed her into the kitchen.

After being with Nellie for a few hours and getting to know her and her daughters that arrived while I was finishing that pie, I told Nellie that I would gladly search her farm. I asked her if I could bring two of my knowledgeable treasure hunting friends to help. She told me that if I trusted them to be quiet about the search, it would be okay with her to help. The following weekend the three of us began searching Nellie's property.

My search began in Nellies home. She told me her husband did some remodeling on the farmhouse years ago. I searched the areas that he remodeled, looking for clues that may lead me to a secret hiding place. I searched the basement concentrating on the stone walls and between and above the old log timber ceiling joists. I searched the dirt floor in the old cellar with my metal detector. The last area of the home I searched was in the attic. After searching the attic for about an hour and not finding anything inside the home, I began my search outside.

One of my friends was searching behind the barn. The other had started metal detecting the front and side yards. I began to search the backyard behind the home and the area up to the barn. I then went into the barn and did a quick check to see if anything out of the ordinary could lead me to think that Nellie’s husband cached any money inside the barn. I found no evidence of that.

By late afternoon we had found no treasure on the property but did find a few Mercury Dimes, a Barber Quarter, old square nails, and rusted junk, lot’s of it. But there was still a large area behind the barn that was densely populated with trees and would be a good place to hide a treasure of any kind. But we had no time left on that day to search that area. I went inside the old farmhouse to speak with Nellie.

As usual, she was in the kitchen and cooking a meal and baking bread.

“Bring you’re friends in here and sit down. I cooked you a meal,” She told me.

I told Nellie that I was sorry, but my wife was cooking dinner, and that one of my friends had a commitment and had to leave shortly. She seemed broken-hearted after I mentioned this to her. By now, my two friends entered the kitchen. I told them what Nellie said. My friend that had the prior commitment stared at the meal Nellie just made, smelled it’s aroma, and said, “my appointment can be changed.”

Feeling that I should eat the meal that Nellie cooked, I called my wife and told her that I would be eating dinner at Nellie’s. My wife understood and said she had not started our dinner yet anyway. It could wait until tomorrow.

Nellie’s smile returned as we sat down for a home-cooked meal of chicken and biscuits. A rhubarb pie that Nellie made was our dessert.

I told Nellie that although we did not find any treasure hidden by her late husband, we would be back the next day to continue our search. Nellie’s docile demeanor changed again as she said, “thank you Frank and boys. I know that cheap son-of-a-bitch hid money somewhere on this farm. Like I said. He never gave us a dime.”

The next day was a Sunday. We were back at Nellie’s home early morning. When we arrived, Nellie was once again in her kitchen getting ready to cook a breakfast of pancakes, breakfast sausage, and fried potatoes.

“Sit down and eat,” she told us.

“But Nellie, we just left a diner and had breakfast,” I told her.

“Now you boys are going to eat some of this, or else,” she said. I wasn’t quite sure what she meant by “or else,” but we three treasure hunters looked at each other and decided we should force down her breakfast, or else.

By the time we were finished eating, we were so full, we felt like just sitting on her front porch, drinking coffee and admiring the beautiful scenery around the farm. But we knew the best thing to do was to begin metal detecting her property and start burning off all those breakfast calories.

After two hours of searching, we found just a few clad coins, more iron junk, and an old railroad lock. We decided to end our search because our belief was that Nellie’s husband did not hide a treasure, or he hid it in an area that we missed searching. I walked into Nellie’s kitchen to tell her that we were sorry for not finding anything that her husband had hidden.

Nellie was upset that we could not locate any cache. Then she became quiet, and her demeanor was a look of sadness. I felt sorry for her. I knew she was struggling financially to keep her home. One of her daughters had mentioned that to me. The daughters wanted Nellie to sell the farm and move in with one of them. But Nellie told them that she wasn’t going anywhere and that she was going to die in her home.

Seeing her that way I decided to give a search of the property one more try. If there was anything hid by her husband, she deserved to have it. Financially, maybe, it could help to keep her in her home.

Not wanting to leave the property now, I asked Nellie. “Where did your husband spend most of the time when he was not working the farm?”

“Oh, that’s easy,” she answered. “He was always in the barn.”

Although I searched the barn by looking around to see if there was any place Nellie’s husband could hide a cache, I never metal detected over the wooden floor of the barn. Seeing a wood floor in an old barn is rare. Most barns were built directly on the ground. I noticed the wooden floor and was somewhat surprised but gave it a passing glance and moved on. But now, after Nellie told me her husband spent a lot of time in the barn, I decided to swing my metal detector over the floor.

There was iron junk on the floor everywhere. As I was detecting, I was kicking aside old tractor parts, broken metal barrel straps, broken tools, nails, and items that I had no idea what they were used for.

When I reached the back of the barn, my metal detector sang out like it was performing in front of a grand audience. I knew I was not picking up the square nails that were used to fasten the floor to the joists below it. I also noticed that the floorboards in this area were not nailed down. As my heart raced with excitement, I set my detector aside and reached down to see if I could pry open one board. After removing the first board, I noticed there was a twenty-inch deep space beneath the board. As my excitement grew, I quickly pulled up a second board. That’s when I saw a large, very old, metal fishing tackle box. For about a minute, I just stared at the box. I knew what it was and why it was there. But I was consumed with not only excitement but also mental exhaustion. I really wanted to find that treasure for Nellie. And as I stared at the box, all I wanted to do was enjoy the moment before opening it.

Inside the tackle box was a burlap bag filled with both Morgan and Peace-type silver dollars. There was another burlap bag filled with Liberty Half dollars, Barber Dimes and Quarters, and Mercury Dimes. In another burlap bag were wraps of one hundred, fifty, and twenty-dollar bills. There were old stamps, stock certificates, and a few gold coins. Nellie’s late husband was obviously a coin collector, and yet neither she nor her daughters had known.

I showed my two treasure hunting friends what I found. They were both excited for Nellie. I carried the old tackle box filled with that treasure into Nellie’s kitchen. She was standing over the stove. Once again, getting ready to either bake a pie or cook a meal. That was a moment that has left my memory bank and was replaced by Nellie’s response when I set the open tackle box on her kitchen counter.

I didn’t have to say anything. She looked at the treasure, and immediately sat down at the kitchen table. She said nothing as she stared at the tackle box. Then she began to cry.

I asked her if she was okay. She nodded yes and reached into her apron for a Kleenex, and wiped her eyes. And then she said.

“Dear Lord, thank you, Frank and you boys.” And then, “That son-of-a-bitch never liked fishing.

Fast Eddie

I had a metal detecting friend who used to walk so fast while he detected that he was almost running. He would swing his detector back and forth like he was cutting down wheat with a scythe. He constantly complained that he never found anything good. Those of us who detected with him called him “Fast Eddie.” “Fast Eddie” did everything fast.

There were times that I would walk slowly behind Fast Eddie, swinging my detector without hurry and finding items he was missing. I’d yell out. “Hey, “Fast Eddie.” Look what you missed.” I would hold up the item, like a Merc Dime, and watch Fast Eddie moan and groan because he missed it.

“I wanna find stuff like that to,” he would say.

At the end of the metal detecting day, we would show our finds. I would place my coins, old buttons, bottle caps, and nails, on the ground. And “Fast Eddie” would show his ball-peen hammerhead, broken cast iron pipe, aluminum siding, rusted tools, broken metal fencing, and one time an entire long-handled shovel.

“Fast Eddie” rarely found a coin, not even a clad coin. I tried to explain that he needed to slow his swing way down and get his coil closer to the ground. But “Fast Eddie” never was the one to pay attention. His attention span was less than a young child.

A few years ago, “Fast Eddie” quit the hobby. His fourth wife divorced him, and was is in the process of cleaning out his home before he sold it. I stopped by to say hello as the large dumpster he rented was being filled with his junk finds.

“You know you’re throwing away money,” I told him. “You should take it to a recycler. They’ll pay you for this scrap metal.”

Fast Eddie” looked at me and smiled. “Good idea,” he answered. But he never did follow through on my idea.

“Fast Eddie” moved away, found another love of his life, and, last I heard, was in the process of marrying again.

Anyway, the moral of this story is to go slow while detecting and as you move through life. Otherwise, you’ll end up with lots of unnecessary junk.

A Piece From The Past

In 1980 treasure hunters recovered a glass jar containing $300 in half dollars dating to the 1920s. They found the coins on an old farmhouse in ruins near Atchinson, Kansas.

In 1965, in Guthrie County, Iowa, boys playing in an area where an old corn crib once stood on the property of an abandoned farm home, found $11,585.51 in old currency and silver coins. The money was inside jars and canisters. In 1890, Dennis Burchett found a silver bar 8 x 2x 1 inch while digging a well near Smokey Creek, in Kentucky.

Credit, Thomas P. Terry

Metal Detectorists From Several States Hunt for History in Boyertown

“The Boyertown Area Historical Society invited the community to its Come Out Swinging Metal at Camp Cannon Hill in Boyertown on April 24 and 25.” Metal Detectorists From Several States

Iron Age treasure: Man's Metal Detector to be Destroyed Over Coin Theft

“A man who found more than 900 Iron Age coins will have his metal detector destroyed as punishment for keeping 23 of them as a "memento". Iron Age Treasure

Fascinating Finds Keep Metal Detectorist Searching for Hidden Treasures

"MCDOWELL COUNTY, N.C. (WLOS) — Stephen Patterson admits he's easily distracted by shiny objects." Fascinating Finds

Stewartville Teacher's New Hobby Leads To Discovery Of Southeastern Minn Sports History

“Whether it’s a family heirloom that’s been passed down for generations or a brand new engagement ring, losing a treasured piece of jewelry can feel like losing a piece of yourself.” Stewartville Teacher

We Want Your Stories and Pictures

One of the excitements we get from metal detecting is seeing what kind of “stuff” others are finding. Not only do we enjoy seeing the items found, but many of us like to hear the stories about how those finds were located. So, let’s see your “stuff.”

Many have posted pictures and brief stories of their finds at my website. It’s easy to do. You basically create your own webpage with a picture or pictures, and a brief story of how you found the items. Once your page is posted, others will be able to view your page, and make comments. You will also have your own url link to the webpage you built. Use that link to post to Facebook, Twitter, or Pintrest and share with others.

So show your “stuff.” We want to see the goodies! Stories About Your Finds

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