by Jim Vokes
Oddly enough this treasure hunt starts at a local garage where I was having my "huntin’ truck" undergo the annual "State Inspection".
As luck would have it, I began a conversation with a friend who was also waiting for some work to be done. In the course of our conversation, I was asked what I was doing with all my time since retirement. That was how the subject of metal detecting entered into the conversation. As I was explaining some of my more exciting recent finds and the types of sites I hunt, my friend mentioned that he had found a large cent in a local farm field where he was working a few years ago. Now I don't have to tell you that my ears perked up and my heartbeat speeded up just a little.
I casually asked if he would be willing to give me a map of exactly where the field was and describe the area in the field that he found the coin. He said of course he would and immediately pulled out a piece of paper and pencil. He began to draw while giving me directions to the field. It was an excellent map, defining roads, creeks and general location in the field. He also gave me the name of the farmer who worked the land.
Within the next week, I drove to the farm field. It was full of ripe corn and the rows were so tight that detecting would not have been sensible, especially during hunting season. So not having had a lot of success in farm fields, I filed the site away as a potential site for later.
As most of you know, there is nothing like the anticipation of a ‘new to you’ detecting site. I am always searching for one of those few "Virgin" sites left to hunt! Well the next spring, I was trying to come up with a new site and remembered my little farm field site. Upon arrival, I found the corn was harvested and the ground was wet from freshly thawed snow. I put on my boots and entered the field. The first thing I saw was that the ground was covered with red brick shards along with some white and blue porcelain pieces. I was later to find through friends on the Internet that this is a major sign that a house had once been there.
Little did I know what was waiting for me under the surface of that ordinary looking cornfield.
Next, I decided to locate the farmer and obtain permission. However, the farmer was not at home. That night I studied my area map from 1868 and discovered that a house had indeed been in that farm field. It even had the name of the Oliver family as the owners at that time.
Don't show anyone this map. It is still my secret site!
The next day, I went to the farmer and did indeed obtain permission. He did not know that a house had ever been located there. It was not part of his immediate farm property but a remote field he had purchased for cultivation. I spent a lot of time explaining our great hobby and the methods of retrieval which were of a concern to him. The farmer was very interested and told me of an old church site and an old school site which are now gone and unrecognizable. This led to even more finds but that is a story for another time. Obtaining new potential sites is a common benefit for those of us who take the time to be friendly and respectful to folks.
Now finally, the actual hunt. I drove to the field early one morning. Armed with my hip mounted Sovereign, the SunRay Meter and S1 Probe, I moved out in the field. Not 15 feet from my "huntin’ truck", the Sovereign told me there was a coin in the ground. Right? Too good to be true, I immediately thought. However, as I dug that first hole gently with my Lesche Digger, I put the S1 probe in the hole and the target was still in there.
OH Boy, that is usually a good sign! Digging even more gently, I suddenly saw silver. With heart pounding, I soon held my first coin from this field, a beautiful 1853 Seated Liberty dime in excellent condition.
You know, I just sat and looked at that coin, hardly breathing. I wondered about the person who lost it, the farmer, his wife or one of their many children out romping in the yard? I will never know but it is a wonderful feeling to unearth such a treasure from long ago.
Even though I was excited and wanted to hunt all of the field in a hurry, I forced myself to get into my practice of mentally staking out a section to detect. I then began to use my grid pattern to cover the ground as thoroughly as possible.
With in a very few minutes, another signal, this time an 1858 Flying Eagle penny. WOW! Unbelievable, I was really on cloud nine! Two 1800s coins in one corn field, Yahoo!
Now my legs were getting weak.
Needless to say, I finally kept going and after finding some house items I again got a nice coin signal. This time, quite shallow, I found the first Large Cent, an 1820 in unusually good condition. Here is what it looked like after some electrolysis.
By the end of the day, I had found a total of 7 Large Cents, 21 colonial buttons, the Seated dime and Flying Eagle penny! I was so tired, I couldn’t hardly walk straight or stand upright. What a day! A once in a lifetime experience.
In the following two years, I have returned to the field to hunt each time the field was plowed. The total to date is now 20 Large Cents, one 1853 Seated dime, one 1857 Flying Eagle penny, a beautiful three cent piece, one 1865 Two Cent Piece, a grand total of 60 plus colonial buttons, many musket balls of various sizes and my favorite find, a 1700’s King George Copper in poor but treasured condition.
Amazingly I have not found a lot of scrap metal but some of that is due to the iron mask feature of the Sovereign. Also, I only found the one silver coin so I have something to look forward to when spring plowing occurs next year. Apparently, the site is too old for Indian Head Pennies, which is kind of interesting. Now that it has been pretty well been picked clean, I can’t wait to see what the new explorer will produce. In addition, I will now start to hunt in "all metal" to see what other treasures I can unearth. In the two years, I have hunted this site, I have never seen any sign that another detectorist has been there.
All in all, it has been one heck of a site! God Bless!
June 2006 Update..
My total now is up to 36 coins no later than 1866 and 70 colonial buttons. Since I last updated in 2002, I have found a beautiful 3 cent piece and just this year I found an 1827 large cent.