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Detecting Treasures

Farmers Union neighbor Adam Branch has been combining his love of history and service to the community, using a metal detector to find unseen artifacts in the local area. He came to the George Henry White Memorial Health and Education Center recently to look for metal objects that might give a peek into the past.

"I found three wheat pennies, from the late 30s and 40s, and one brass valve," he said in a recent interview. "Also some old farm implements."

"I had heard about the Center through word of mouth," he said. "I am motivated to do this to potentially save historical relics that would otherwise never been seen again."

His career as an electrician servicing numerous nuclear power plants enabled him to travel, but it was a friend who introduced him to the exciting world of metal detection.

"I've found wedding rings lost while gardening and jewelry for my mother that was lost for 40 years, from when she was a girl," Adam reported. "Together with a friend, I've located Civil War buttons, musket balls, pocket knives, and currency. My best find was a "half dime" minted in 1853. At that time, the nickel was not in use, instead it was a half dime."

The metal detector's "reach" is about 12 inches straight down, explained Adam, and it can work in water, so it can find objects that were washed away in streams or other waterways. Items found in the area include Prohibition-era stills, pierced coins that were sewn into clothing, or even British currency from the 1740sbefore the American Revolution.

"I've also found a lot of non-metal artifacts," Adam explains, "including Indian arrowheads, clay pipes, or decorated pottery. I've also located turpentine pits, where the distilled turpentine was kept, and a lot of other local historical sites."

What is the primary quality needed for this kind of archeological investigation? "Patience," Adam laughs. "You don't find something every time. Also, I sometimes do research to find a likely site from a colonial era, only to find there's not much there. But then I'll find a lot of stuff in the middle of some farm field. You never know."

Adam would like to give a presentation in the future at the George Henry White Center, showing some of the historical items, and items of interest, that he has unearthed. "We need to find out from our elder citizens about their memories, which can go back to their grandparents, stretching one or two hundred years back. If they go without sharing that knowledge, it is gone forever."

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