Thursday, October 29, 2015

Searching for History in Ohio

From October 23 - October 25, 2015, over 100 metal detectorists were invited to Carroll County, Ohio for a chance to recover lost history as part of an event called the Civil War Preservation Project of Ohio.

Our mission was to find evidence of military activity that occurred during the Civil War.

When I first heard about it, I was honored to be included and (obviously) pretty excited. Especially when they said that the historical society as well as archaeologists wanted to work with us. This was a great chance to show them first hand how we as a metal detecting community could work together and provide a valuable service. Together, we could make a difference and potentially document history.


Sam Waters is responsible for organizing this event. She took it on herself because she wanted to find and prove the history in her community.

There is some knowledge of Civil War activity in her town, and she got permission from the historical society to detect near the existing monument where a skirmish took place. 

She also became friendly with the homeowner across the street from the monument, who claimed that the battle actually took place in his back yard. She found more items there, which raised many questions and began her quest to seek more documentation of her local history.

It's known that something had occurred there, but she was hoping we could come together to uncover even more information... 

What route did the troops take? Where was their camp? Was there major activity or possibly another skirmish?

So I, along with the White's Focus Team and about 100 respected diggers, traveled to Ohio to help Sam and the historical society find the answers to these questions.

My buddy Ed Cropski and I decided to road trip to Ohio since it was under 8 hours from my house. We drove through the night and arrived at around 4 o'clock on Friday morning. 

We checked in to a beautiful resort and soon it was time for breakfast.

 This was the view from my room.

It was great to see everybody! I caught up with some of my fellow White's Team members: Dom and Mark, Dave, Todd, Bob, and Steve. It was so awesome to talk over coffee and pancakes. We keep in touch online, but it was the first we all got together since our trip to Oregon.  

Team Selfie

Orientation began at 1pm.

The historical society gave a presentation that included known history, 

 maps of the area, 

and a demonstration of authentic Civil War uniforms. 

It was intense and awesome and after orientation we were ALL filled with the hope of possibly saving history.

We had some free time and a chance to meet and mingle with detectorists from all over the US and beyond.

 Danny Koghee came from the Netherlands. 

It was a nice honor to meet him. We sat and talked for a while. We shared stories and he even brought me some relics!

 Awesome relics from the Netherlands. Very kind and thoughtful of Danny.

with Dominique DiSilva

with Josh Kimmel
with Mark Durrant

 with Howard Hewitt
After social and selfie hour (LOL) we headed out to check out the site.  They had given us our location assignment at orientation, so we were excited to have a quick preview of what was to come the next day.

with Jeff Fisher

Jeff Fisher helped to section off the entire site (500 acres total) and they assigned each team of detectorists to a location on the grid. That's where we headed.

some of the White's Team

When we got back to the resort, we had a nice sit down dinner. There was another presentation and entertainment. Howard Hewitt wrote and read an incredible poem dedicated to the mission. 

Lonnie Kimble played guitar. He is a relative of John Morgan who is from Ohio. He was visiting his aunt Sarah Chadwell (who is also Morgan's relative), who traveled from West Virginia to attend this event. Ms. Chadwell had a life long question about the site, and this weekend we were able to answer it for her.

 Howard Hewitt speaking

After dinner there was an auction and raffles with some great prizes, but after only 4 hours of sleep, I had to get to bed.

We were up and ready to go at 6 on Saturday morning. We didn't know what to expect, but you could actually feel the excitement in the air.

100 guys with a passion for history, all geared up and ready for this adventure.

Each team headed out to their assigned location. Ours was D2.

with Dave Wise
The goal was to scour the land looking for evidence like bullets, buttons and other relics that would tell us where the action happened. 

We were hoping to uncover the story, find by find.

Have you ever seen the start of a horse race when they drop the gates and the horses take off? That's exactly what it looked like when it was time to start the hunt. It was a funny sight to see a group of mixed adults, some young, some older, all ready to get out there and get digging!

Our team split up at the start of the day so that we could cover the entire assigned section.

I crossed a creek, went up a little hill, crossed a barbwire fence, ground balanced my machine, and I was off and running...

A good percentage of the property was wooded area which made for easy digging for the most part. Almost all of our section was wooded.

This was the first time I got to hunt with Steve Howard. For those who don't know, to me, he is THE MAN. He is White's Electronics' technical guru. He knows all. He's also a very nice guy and I was excited to hunt with him.

On a site like this, you should run your machine wide open so you can hear the iron signals. With the possibility of finding a cannonball, artillery, or deteriorating guns, it's worth it to check out all the loud grunts.

Once I started swinging, it didn't take long to find the first target. 

I believe it to be an older lead slug from a shotgun shell.

Jeff and Sam set up a system to bag and tag each of our finds. For every object found (not obvious trash) we would complete an information sheet. We would then place the info sheet and the relic into a bag and turn it in to the historical society.

 Like this trime found by Greg Shipley.

I passed by John Ruth as he was digging up horse tack iron buckles.

Over the next few hours, I explored the area and found a few miscellaneous pieces of lead, a buckle cover, and a few modern bullets. 

I also found this flat button.

I love exploring areas like this, it's fun and exciting because you never know what you might stumble upon. 

We found another stone foundation deep in the woods in our section. I found a few items but not enough to determine that Civil War action took place there.

We moved across a dirt path toward a larger, stronger foundation, which also served as the hub for the site. By that time, it was crowded with people hoping to find something.

 with Josh Silva

It was also the first time we took a break and we were able to share our finds and talk with everyone about their morning so far. I got to see a Confederate Einfeld Bullet, a cavalry stirrup, and a few three-ringers that were found throughout the site.

 Cavalry Stirrup found by Josh Silva

The finds were too scattered to determine significant activity, and after a quick lunch we headed back out.

We were able to eliminate sections with no activity and soon everyone was going separate ways to seek out hot spots.

By early afternoon, I had heard that a few other relics had been found, including large cents, seated dimes, and a 3-cent coin found by Greg Shipley. Greg Shipley is another person that I was honored to meet and hunt with.

 Greg's trime.

Other finds included a 2 cent coin, an Indian Head penny, and scattered Civil War relics.

So far, we had lucked out with the weather and the rain held off, but it started to rain around 3:30 - 4:00.

By that time we were exhausted and I headed back to the hotel.

Slowly, everybody returned and we got ready for dinner. After a long day of detecting, we enjoyed another nice pasta meal.

It was a casual night, and it was cool to talk and laugh with everybody.

I got to bed before midnight and was back up and ready to dig at 5:30 Sunday morning. 

We had breakfast as a team and headed off to the site for the second day of detecting.

We weren't assigned the same sections as the day before. This time they'd narrowed it down to where most of the Civil War relics had been found and as a large group, we concentrated on those specific areas.

I had a few theories and after studying the detailed maps Jeff Fisher created, I headed off on my own.

Throughout both days, we surely put in a few miles on our feet, probably closer to ten.

At one point I ran into my teammate Bob Buttafuso and we sat down, took a break, and had a good talk.

People were coming up with good period targets, like bullets and a Civil War scabbard tip and the excitement started to build again.

Right around noon, they sent out a call for everyone to go to a particular section. It just so happened that Ed and I had planned on leaving at noon to head home.

We tracked down Sam, thanked her for her hospitality and everything, and went back to the hub to pack up. I had a good feeling about the rest of the day, I knew they were going to find the hotspot.

 with Sam Waters

We met up with some of the team to say goodbye. Bob Buttafuso came flying up on a golf cart and said, "You guys have to meet someone."

We went to a nearby home and met a man named Gary Heckman. He's an experienced metal detectorist and he owns one of the first White's detectors. He and his wife were so nice to us. They made us homemade waffles, showed us his machines, and we sat and talked about history, the area, and White's Electronics. It was an unexpected pleasure, and the waffles were delicious. 

 Gary Heckman

We hit the road for our journey home and about an hour or two in, I got a message from Sam - they had found the spot. She was so excited! They found a definite Civil War button, a bunch of bullets, and mini balls. They even found a few tent stakes, which confirmed that there was a camp nearby.

The historical society was thrilled. All of the evidence seemed to solve another piece of the puzzle - it determined that the soldiers took a secondary route.

I'm happy to say that they are going to put a new monument in place. 

I'm very proud to have been a part of this event. The metal detecting community worked well together, along with the historical society to really make a difference.

We saved history.

I made some new friends and got a chance to catch up with my team. I even drank a beer. 

 with my finds

It was really neat to see how one person's vision could become reality. I'm happy for the success of the organizers and everyone involved. Because of this event, they'll be able to receive funding, the relics we found will go to a museum, and they will be able to place a marker on the site.

Here are some more of the everyone's finds:

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