The Hunt

30/03/13 11:52 AM

Last Saturday, we allowed someone to come to the plantation to do a little metal detecting. We don’t normally allow this, but because we are about to grade the grounds, we were worried we would lose or even damage priceless artifacts.
We do have a “No Trespass” rule for metal detectors on any parts of the 694 acres. We fear by allowing others to come, we would lose valuable artifacts and wouldn’t know where they came from. 
We didn’t know what we would find and the individual we allowed on the plantation agreed to leave all the items with us.
What an adventure it turned out to be!
We have asked him to please write a guest blog for us talking about his adventures in Virginia.
We hope you enjoy!
Saturday was the continuation of my three state relic hunting expedition.
Now, before I go any further I am going to put out this disclaimer to all.
This relic hunt was a one time deal. The only reason that I  mention the location is because they will posting a similar post on their blog site. The property is clearly marked “No Trespassing” and the proprietors do not, and will not permit, anyone to access the grounds for relic hunting purposes. I was provided this one time opportunity to relic hunt here only to provide the home with relics for them to display to guests that will visit there. I repeat: The proprietors do not, and will not, permit anyone to access the grounds for relic hunting purposes. Please respect their wishes.
Okay, back to the day’s hunt.
Mama Bear had done a lot of leg work and communication with the proprietors of the Belle Grove Plantation in Port Conway, VA ), which was the birth place of James Madison. I cannot thank my wife enough for what she did to make this happen. The plantation house has been converted into a guest house of sorts and I was more than happy to help them in their quest to find relics related to the plantation.

Upon arriving, I met with the proprietors, Michelle, Brett and their son Tyler. Both Michelle and Brett had been in the military so we chatted about our experiences. Brett was retired from the military and, like myself, did not miss it. Michelle took me for a two hour tour of the house and grounds, to include the slave quarters, smoke house and ice house. I will come back to these three buildings later. While it may seem like a long time, it actually flew by. I was shown area’s that guests will never see. It was an amazing tour to be given and I am very grateful for the experience.

After my education into the history of the plantation I was free to hunt the grounds. Now back in the 1980’s this place was an abandoned property and, from the large number of 40oz beer bottle screw caps I was digging up at first, it showed. I moved to the area between the slave quarters and ice house and things started looking up…
I dug up this flattened thimble at about 6 inches deep.
Caly Marble
Shortly afterwards, in the same area, I found this clay marble. Okay, I can hear the questions. How did I find a clay marble with a metal detector? Actually I was digging a signal and sitting on top of a piece of rusty iron was this marble. To think that a child, who likely grew up to adulthood and has long passed, was most likely the last one to touch this marble really brings a personal touch to this hobby.
I moved to the area in front of the plantation house and found more relics.
The old folding knife still had part of the wood furniture on it.
Minie Balls
I found two Civil War era Minie Balls. The one on the right was found less than a foot from the steps to the front of the plantation house. For Michelle, this really reenforced her belief that the Union forces used the house as a headquarters during the Civil War.
And now the best for last….
Large Cent
A 1817 Large Cent with 15 Stars ( . The signal on this was a solid tone and I knew instantly I was not on any trash. I dug the plug out and it was sitting at about 4 inches down. When I saw the coin I made enough of an exclamation that Brett, who was working on a project on the front steps, came running over to see what I had found. We soon had Michelle out there. The date and stars were only visible when the coin was wet and viewed at a sharp angle. The really cool thing about this coin was that James Madison was President in 1817.
Total finds
All in all, the day ended up being a success! I also found some period pottery shards, square nails and part of a period garden hoe. Michelle, Brett and Tyler were all very thankful for the service I had provided, for which I was very thankful to have given the opportunity to provide such a service.
I was glad to have helped them in finding some relic to display.
Slave Qtrs
Slave Quarters
Now back to the Slave Quarters ( that I mentioned earlier. While the plantation house is to be a guest house, there is nothing budgeted by the investors for the preservation of the three outbuildings. Michelle and Brett are both hoping to turn the biggest of the three outbuildings into a walk in museum for guests and visitors, while preserving and restoring the other two buildings back to what they looked like 200 years ago. In the top left of their blogsite is a donate button. All donations go to the cost of restoring of these buildings. If you believe in preserving as I do, then I ask that you make a donation.
Thank you. PB
Brett and I would like to thank Papa Bear for all his hard work and for this wonderful post!
And to thank Mama Bear for reaching out to us from our blog to arrange it for him!
We will soon have more pictures for our day of hunting on Facebook!

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Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Belle Grove History, Darnell History | 38 Comments »

38 Comments on “The Hunt”

  1. John Says:

    Excellent finds! So fascinating. A peak back in time.

  2. Thank you! More to come I am sure!

  3. How cool! And what a nice experience to start your new adventure off with. I bet there will be more. ~Mary

  4. Thank you Mary! I bet there will be!

  5. David Says:

    Very exciting finds, especially finding the 1817 coin. Also, I didn’t realize how close the outbuildings are to the main plantation house. If you’re able to preserve them, they would certainly add to the historical value of Belle Grove and the property itself.

  6. Thank you! The coin was hands down the coolest find! To think that James Madison was serving as President when it was made gives me chills!

    Yes, they are very close to the house. You will see them as you drive up when you come to visit.

  7. terry1954 Says:

    fascinating and so exciting. Congratulations on your finds through the hunt!

  8. Thank you! Sorry, nothing shiny 😉

  9. terry1954 Says:

    but relics are better!!!!

  10. That is true!

  11. chr1 Says:

    That coin is something. Sounds like a good day.

  12. Thank you! Yes, it was the best find of the day!

  13. Very cool finds. Happy Easter to you all!

  14. Happy Easter! Thank you!

  15. I hope you will turn one of the outhouse into museum. It would be an educational as well as a nice vacation for your guests! I know every place has a history but nothing connect the history to the place stronger than actual relics found on location. You have a gem there.

  16. We are planing on turning the Summer Kitchen into a small museum. That is why we are working so hard to do fund raisers to get the funds together to restore them.

    Thank you!

  17. tucsonmike Says:

    Amazing. I would have enjoyed being in on it. You should set up a museum with the items. I will help and get help to catalog it. 🙂 (I was a librarian in a past life and helped in the local railroad museum in Tucson). I know a retired librarian in Virginia Beach from when I was a librarian in Virginia.

  18. Thank you! We are working with Ferry Farms to help us catalog them and date them. We hope to turn the Small Kitchen into a small museum.

  19. Papa Bear Says:

    Michelle and Bret,
    I am glad to have helped out in recovering some relics for you, though I wish I had found more. Here is a video I made of the trip:

    Every one, I ask you to please donate something to help get those buildings rescued and restored. They are part of all of ours history, no matter where we reside today.

    Best wishes,
    Papa Bear

  20. Thank you so much Papa Bear!! Hugs to Mama Bear and wishing you wonderful Easter!

  21. This is just awesome!!!! I love it!!! So glad he found some treasures for you!

  22. Thank you! There will be more for sure!

  23. Jen Says:

    Wow, what great finds—especially a coin from the era when Madison was President. You must have all been thrilled to pieces, it’s so amazing! To think, it has been sitting there for all of these years. What a perfect thing to display!

    The thimble does excite me, too. As a seamstress I kind of can’t help it. 😉

  24. Thank you! Yes they were all great thrills every time he would dig!

  25. What a neat experience for both you and your metal detector friend! Fabulous finds – that coin is amazing! I like the thimble a lot too – can’t wait to hear if they can date it at Ferry Farm.

  26. I will be going to Ferry Farm tomorrow for the review! Results soon!

  27. Lynda Says:

    Well this was certainly fun and exciting! Plus, you have given me an idea… 😉

  28. Thank you! Oh really! What’s the idea?

  29. Lynda Says:

    Well, we have bid in on a property with a house that started 175 years ago as a log cabin in the mountains. It was updated in the early 1900’s and sits on 23 acres. If our bid is taken, I am going to invest in a metal detector.

  30. Yes!! Let me know how it goes!!

  31. How fascinating! I always wondered about how much people can find with metal detectors. About how deep do they detect?

  32. Not to far! And we have barely scratched the surface!

  33. […] The Hunt and Artifacts Results are in! […]

  34. Thank you so much for sharing our blog with your readers! It really means a lot to us!

  35. Nativegrl77 Says:

    Thanks for all the likes ! Wow …great information … history! wonder if there are more coins and artifacts to be found !!!! the adventure !!!

  36. You are welcome! I don’t know. We are removing trees today so maybe we will find something!

  37. Excellent article! I love metal detecting also. A great and rewarding hobby. I think you did the right thing allowing the place to be searched by a responsible artifact hunter. It’s definitely better than letting the artifacts rust away and never to be remembered. So often, these relics can help tell the history of a property.

  38. This is so true! Also long as we can control the hunt we don’t mind. Thank you!