‘Immigrant Woods’ Keeps Producing

I’ve found a really hot spot, one I’ve hunted six times since October 10th, in a local park that dates to the mid-1800s.

I was told last year by another local detectorist that the park had been ‘hunted out’; now, I don’t know if he was trying to discourage me from his ‘turf’ but I’ve been there probably fifteen times or more and have always come home with decent finds.

‘Decent’ used to mean Indian Head pennies and the occasional mid-to-late 1800s U.S. coin.

Not so since October 10th.

Now, ‘decent’ finds means multiple 1800s…or OLDER…coins, some of them silver and almost all foreigners. On that day in early October I made a decision to change things up and try something new: I’d go into the woods and try hitting the sides of the ravines, places I was pretty confident hadn’t ever been detected.

It has proven to be the best decision of my fledgeling 3-year metal detecting career, with river and creek hunting a close second.Water hunts have been an adventure to say the least, and a great way to keep cool on those hot summer days here in Ohio. The 1786 reale was a bonus on Labor Day morning, found in the lazy trace of the Mohican River near the old Newville Settlement.

Immigrant Woods beat that coin by over two hundred years.

Thanks to my South Carolina YouTube pal Shannon, who goes by ‘Palmetto Digger’ on the social media video site, I was able to identify a coin I found last week in the park, one which I thought was another reale. I emailed closeup pics of the coin to Shannon, asking if the coin was a reale; he’s a pretty adept detectorist who’s dug more than a few of them in SC’s Low Country, which makes him a pretty solid authority in my book. I received an answer the next day.

It was a shock.

Shannon says my coin is most probably a German States Schwarzburg Spitzgroschen, a coin that was struck in the mid-1500s. MID-FIFTEEN HUNDREDS. Nearly 500 years ago!

Most guys and gals go their entire metal detecting lives without finding something such as a Spitzgroschen…which makes me a very, very fortunate guy. You’ll never hear me refer to myself as an ‘expert’ detectorist; the spot I’ve been finding all the old foreign coins was out of sheer luck, with a side of adventure thown in. Believe me, it is a challenge staying glued to the side of a steep hill covered with wet leaves and mud. I made a quick trip down the side of one of those hills the first day I tried it; I still have a sore spot on my right shin bone reminding me of it daily.

How did those coins get there, you ask? My hunch, backed up by being a retired police officer who spent time as a detective in Special Investigations, is that sometime in the past thirty to forty years someone had a coin collection stolen during an area home burglary; once the thief realized he had a bunch of foreign coins in his possession which were probably of no use to him, he got rid of the evidence by going back in the woods and scattering them across the hill side.

Which was good luck for me.

As an aside, I called the Records Section at the police department and asked if they could research old home burglary reports from 1990 back thirty years, since the newest coin I’ve found to date is from 1966. No word yet, but I’d bet my next pension check that those coins are from a burglary. If Records can find a report where a coin collection was taken, I’ll try to contact the owner or a family member; if they can tell me what some of the coins I’ve found are I fully intend to return all of them.

You can watch a recap of the coins I’ve found on my YouTube channel here:

Advertisements

A Day with the Homicide Unit

Yeah, so yesterday I’m reading email, minding my own business; my cell phone chirps, alerting me to an incoming call. Thus ended my ‘routine’ day, exchanging it for a Day with the Homicide Unit.

For those that aren’t aware, I was a cop for 30-some odd years here in north central Ohio. I’ve forged some pretty solid friendships resultant of those years, ranging from fellow coppers to Chiefs of Police to prosecutors to sitting judges to councilmen to mayors to….well, you get the picture. Since retiring in 2013 I’ve closely followed events surrounding the local law enforcement scene and kept in touch with numerous guys and gals still wearing badges. Yesterday morning at 0808 hours, Captain Shari Robertson decided to give me a call.

“Hey, TC…I know this is kinda out of the blue, but I was wondering if you might be available with your metal detector a little later?”

“Absolutely”, I replied, “what time?” I knew it was gonna be good. When law enforcement needs someone with a metal detector it’s for good reason.

“I’m not sure yet. The detectives are still working the Jones ( not the victim’s real name ) unsolved homicide; Rob ( Det. Lt. Rob Skropits, head of the Major Crimes Unit ) will be calling you a little later, he’ll fill you in.”

“Awesome!”

We chatted a little longer, catching up on events since we last spoke two or three months ago. I was one of Shari’s supervisors when she first hired on at the PD back in the 90s and we’ve remained friends ever since. I’m very proud of Shari’s ascention in rank and what she’s accomplished during her career.

I told my wife Stacy about the call; she knew immediately that I was very excited over the chance to rub elbows once again with my brothers and sisters in blue while at the same time assisting on an investigation.

A little while later Lt. Skropits contacted me, giving me the address of the first location where I’d be needed and telling me we would be searching for a buried firearm which the detectives believed was used in the homicide. They’d obtained a search warrant for the house, located in a run-down section of the city, based on information they’d developed; if the weapon wasn’t located there, we’d be going to another area where it was possibly buried in a wooded lot.

I arrived at the first location an hour later after having checked to make sure I had fresh batteries in my Garrett AT Pro. Police vehicles, both marked and unmarked, lined one side of the short section of street, along with a couple of other cars belonging to the city’s Codes and Permits department. I’d soon learn why they were there.

I met Rob and his guys, along with close friend Doug Noblet, an Administrative Lieutenant whom I’d had in his field training period when Doug had first hired on, in the very small back yard of the house.

The conditions were appalling.

The yard was probably sixty feet by fifteen feet, enclosed by an assortment of fencing and piled with probably 50 trash bags containing rotting garbage. Very little grass existed; metal objects, however, abounded, as did mud. Bicycle parts and frames, pots and pans, tin cans, nuts, bolts, nails, foil…it was all there in abundance. So were the dog droppings; Animal Control officers had removed seven dogs from inside the deplorable conditions of the house.

Not exactly the best conditions in which to metal detect.

We cleared away as much of the metallic refuse as we could with gloved hands and I activated my machine. I set the iron discrimination at 35 but kept the iron audio on; this would give me a clearer ‘picture’ of what I was looking for: a small-caliber rifle.

There was constant, unending chatter in my headphones. I learned during the search that information indicated that the firearm was possibly buried near the fence in a corner; sure enough, a long, narrow iron signal was found in  one of the corners; no joy, though, as it turned out to be an almost a foot-and-a-half long rusting steel rod of some sort.

It didn’t take very long to finish the area. Afterwards, while detectives still worked the inside of the house, Codes and Permits posted a ‘CONDEMNED’ sign on the front door; apparently, conditions were so poor that the house was uninhabitable. Det. Dave Sheurer, with whom I’d worked afternoons in the mid-90s on the streets, asked if I wanted to go inside the house. He’d told me how bad things were, saying that detectives had worn facemasks covering their mouths and noses while searching the upstairs portion of the house due to the smell and unhealthy air. I still can’t understand why people willingly live amid such filth.

I declined; I’d been in enough of those types of houses over the course of my career and I didn’t ever want to be inside another again. Another investigator, Sergeant Ken Carroll, had exited the basement, his pants covered with fleas. It was that bad. Be sure to see the photos of the back yard at the bottom of this entry; you’ll get the picture.

Finishing up, we stopped for lunch at a local Greek restaurant; Rob was gracious enough to pick up my tab. You’re wondering how coppers can eat right after experiencing such filth, right? It comes with the job. You get callous to those issues after enough years on the job.

The second location was in probably the worst area of the city; a wooded section of treeline with heavy underbrush which stood between government housing and a major highway was the target, and was probably five acres overall. Again, trash and metal abounded.

We spent probably two hours in this area, again with no luck. It was just too large an area, too brushy, the proverbial ‘needle-in-a-haystack’ type of thing. Rob indicated they’d try to develop their information further, narrow down an area where the possible murder weapon might be, and call me again.

I can’t wait.

 

You can read more law enforcement-related topics on my other blog, ‘Through An Old Cop’s Eyes’, here : http://mpd135.blogspot.com/

 

Did It Again!

I’m on a roll, to put it mildly.

I found a hot spot that’s produced old coins….old foreign coins…all three times I’ve visited it, the last being Monday.

The most significant one out of the six from Monday is a 1891 British half-crown; its 92.5% pure silver. I also found a 1942 East African 5-cent piece, an 1859 Canadian cent, an undated Japanese coin, a German/Prussian 2 fennige and  a 1964 5 cent coin from the Philippines.

The only coin minted in the United States that I’ve found in that area was a 1920 Mercury dime. That’s baffling.

I went back again today; although I only found 4 more coins and a token, I am happy with them. This day produced a souvenir token from the 1926 Sesquicentennial International Exposition, one which I can’t find anywhere on the internet, a 1857 Canadian half-cent issued by the Bank of Upper Canada, a Hungarian 2 filler coin dated 1926, a 1944 20 centavos coin issued through Ecuador and a 10 cent piece from Malay and British Borneo dated 1961. These were all found in about a twenty-yard radius.

Here’s the video:

A Good Deed

You sometimes find the most unusual thing while out metal detecting. What’s been yours? My most unusual find happened today, and it wasn’t a relic, artifact, jewelry or anything I’d even consider keeping.

I ventured about eight miles to a high school this morning, knowing they’d had a huge crowd at their Friday night home football game; both teams are state ranked and, judging by the amount of food trash scattered on the grounds, I was right.

Fourteen months ago I hunted this same stadium; under the visitor’s side stands I dug a man’s gold wedding band. Maybe I’d have the same kind of luck this day.

Maybe.

It was a little cool as I geared up a hundred yards from the football field. The access gate to the close-in parking area was locked, so I had to make the trek up the hill. That’s ok though, because I can use the added exercise; one of the benefits of our hobby, right?

Let me say this now: at schools or parks, I NEVER hunt athletic fields. Ever, unless they’ve been abandoned, such as Liberty Park’s baseball and soccer fields. I obtained permission to hunt those, even though they haven’t been in use for years, because I would have felt guilty otherwise.

During the two hours I spent there I unearthed all the usual stuff: wadded foil food wrappers, pull tabs, a few nails, a key…all of which went into my waist bag, which I use for trash in addition to holding my hand trowel. My pinpointer’s velcro sleeve is fitted to the outside of it, as is a spring-loaded D-ring that keeps my truck keys secured. I also dug up over $6 dllars in coinage.

The unusual find?

It was something I’d never found before, something I’m sure its owner fretted over when she discovered she’d lost it.

A Citibank credit card, issued just last month. It lay in the last section I checked, partially covered by an oil-stained popcorn bag but sticking out just enough to allow me to see it.

The visiting team was from the next county west of me, and I decided to conduct an internet search of the owner’s name once I got home. Failing that, I’d have to wait until Monday and call the visiting school on the off chance they’d know the owner. Small school districts are like small towns: everyone knows everybody else.

The internet source I checked said the gal lived in a small city in that county; I could have accessed her address and phone number, but I wasn’t gonna anti-up ten bucks to do it. It then dawned on me that the police department there might have the woman’s contact information in their records, so I called them.

Success! The dispatcher told me the woman’s information was in their system; knowing she couldn’t give it to me, I asked that she take my name and number and make contact with the card’s owner, requesting that she call me. A couple of hours later I got a call from the card’s owner, ‘Mary’, who proceeded to thank me profusely. We had a very pleasant conversation, with her telling me she was happy that an honest person had found it, even though she’d cancelled the card Friday night when she realized she’d lost it. I replied that I’d spent 31 years as a police officer and wouldn’t think of anything but returning it to her.

In the end she asked that I destroy the card since a new one would be on its way. ‘Mary’ then asked for my address, saying she’d like to send me something for my kindness.

Her thanks was reward enough for me. I needed nothing else from this nice gal.

After all, isn’t that what we metal detectorists do? Return lost items if we can identify an owner?

It’s a great feeling.

 

Domestic stuff Saturday, but…

We all know that balancing family time with our metal detecting addiction can sometimes get tricky; luckily for me, my wife is a red-headed angel. She doesn’t mind if I have to scratch the itch on her days off. However…

My youngest stepson is getting married in two weeks. I have to go shopping for a new suit tomorrow morning. Now, I’m not the world’s most patient shopper; I know exactly what I want, go in, buy it and leave. Unfortunately, my wife isn’t on the same page as me when it comes to retail browsing, so tomorrow will be…somewhat trying.

She broke the news this morning before she left for work. She also added that she knew I’d want to go detecting, so I’m headed out as soon as we get home.

I’ll be headed back to South Park, into the woody hills and ravines. I went there twice this past week; the first day produced 3 foreign coins, the oldest a German pfennig dated 1810. Yesterday’s hunt produced, among other things, an 1862 Belgian 10 centimes coin and a 1920 Merc, the latter being seven inches down under a pine tree root. Have I said recently how much I love my AT Pro, despite the control box issues this past summer?

I’m not expecting another haul such as this past week, but you never know.

I just hope my wife understands when I tell her I want the first suit I try on….

You can watch the video of my latest hunt here:

Some Things Can’t Be Explained

You’re out metal detecting, enjoying the outdoors and the hobby you love so much. It’s not your best hunt by far, but you’ve recovered a few cool things. You start digging an odd tone, mainly because you want to find out what it is.

And then it happens.

‘What IS this thing?’

That is exactly what happened to me yesterday. I decided to visit South Park again, an area that was once considered the edge of town back in the early 1800s, and was so popular that it had its own trolley stop.

I’d made some very nice finds there: an 1865 2 cent piece, Indian head pennies, a Costa Rican 5 centavos coin, two rings, square nails, an undated V nickle…but this day, I would find a foreign coin…er, coins… one being dated 1810.

South Park has been pounded hard over the years, several times by me even after being told by another local detectorist it was ‘hunted out’. Still it produces, though recently not so much.

Today I’d try a different tactic.

It’s started getting colder during overnight hours here in north central Ohio, causing some of the green brush and viny plants to start withering…mainly my nemesis, poison ivy. If I even look at it, I get it, so I avoid wooded areas with even moderate undergrowth during warmer months. That’s OK, though, because I love hunting in creeks and rivers when it’s hot outside. All that considered, I’d hunt in the park’s woods.

On the sides of the hills in the woods.

Why? Because very, very few detectorists will hunt hillsides with even a moderate slope to them. Being that the park has been so heavily hunted, I figured I might have some luck…and it paid off.

The first find, as well as several others, couldn’t be readily identified because of dirt and lack of sunlight. As the leaves fall the latter will take care of itself; plus, I hadn’t grabbed my cleaning brush ( toothbrush ) out of my truck before entering the woods. Most of my recoveries would remain unknown until I got them back home and cleaned.

Three more foreign coins, an Arabic or Indian, a Prussian and one from Norway, were brought to the surface, with the German/Prussian dated 1810. I was elated to say the least! My hunt was somewhat abbreviated due to my oldest stepson calling to say he was locked out of the house, neccessitating the need for me to leave, but still successful. I’ll be going back there soon; pics of the finds are at the bottom of the page.

You can watch the Youtube video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCkT5Ck46T8

I just wish someone could have gotten some video footage of my 25-foot slide down that steep, bare embankment I attempted to climb. I was reminded, once again, that I’m not as young as my mind thinks I am.

Last Water Hunt of the Year

‘….the high today will be 80 degrees…’.

That’s when I made the decision. I would venture into the water somewhere to metal detect. I couldn’t pass on one last chance to do it because a cold front comes through north central Ohio Friday night that will drop temps by 20 degrees.

But where to go? I didn’t want to have to drive 20 miles to my favorite river spot, mainly because my grandson would be coming in the afternoon; I needed something relatively close to home. Then it hit me.

Charles Mill Lake Park. Five minutes down the road. I hadn’t been there since early March, before the beach area opened for the season; I’d had to walk 400 yards to get to it because the access drive was still chained off at the time. The good part of that trip was that I didn’t have to pay the $5 fee to metal detect in the park.

I stowed my gear in the covered bed of my truck, grabbed a couple water bottles and checked my gear bag to make sure I had fresh batteries, then donned an old pair of jeans shorts and a sleeveless T-shirt.

I was ready.

Arriving at the park office, I chatted with the secretary until the park manager Steve Rice arrived and produced the permit form I needed to fill out. Five minutes and five dollars later I headed to the beach parking area, both sides of the lane sparsely lined with a few campers and numerous winterized pontoon boats; very few people were about.

Perfect.

I dropped the tailgate of my truck, donning my above-the-ankle dive boots. If you ever decide to start detecting in water I strongly urge investing in a pair; if you’re like me, you’ll soon discover that your old pair of tennis shoes will fill with sand and pebbles as you tread the bottom of lakes and streams, interrupting your hunt every hour as you empty your shoes.

Since I only intended to hunt in thigh-deep water or less, I didn’t bother with switching out my AT Pro’s stock headphones in favor of the waterproof ones. Gearing up, I grabbed my sand scoop, extra batteries and a bottle of water. I donned the waist bag I always wear and walked down the hill to the beach.

Dismayed, I saw that some moron had decided to lunch on the beach and not bother picking up his trash. Food wrappers and a crushed waxy cup from Arby’s lay in a shallow hole that had been scooped out of the sand….the nearest trash container a mere tweny yards away.

I spent the next four hours both in the water and on the dry sand, collecting nearly $4 in clad along with some rusty screws and nails I found in the lake. The one good find was a ring that could possibly be silver, a little basket-weave number I scooped at mid-shin depth.

An hour before I quit, one of the park maintenance guys drove up to the area in a cart; he was emptying trash cans and did pick up the Arby’s junk along the way. Just before he left I looked up to where I’d left my water and batteries at the base of a concrete picnic table.

They were gone!

As the man hopped back onto the motorized utility ATV, black garbage bags filling its bed, I stopped him, asking about my items. He explained that he assumed someone had left them behind, emptied the water bottle and threw it away. He did keep the batteries, which he returned, and apologized; no harm, no foul. I had extra water in the truck, parked 40 yards away, so all was well.

I arrived home an hour and a half later, put the clad change in my coin tumbler and started it rolling. The ring I examined more closely under a high-intensity light and magnifier, delighted to see the inside stamped ‘.925’, meaning it was silver.

It was a good day after all! For me, any water hunt including a non-junk ring recovery is a success; I’d gotten some exercise and sun in the process, turning my hairless head as well as my arms a little browner.

As the temps drop and the snow soon flies, I’ll have all winter to think about this one last water detecting venture….

…and dream of the first to come in 2017.

2