It’s been a rough winter on the east coast. Too many inches of snow to count, and frozen grounds left behind from the winter chill. Finally a day came where the temps were above freezing and I managed to take advantage of the few hours I had. I had gained permission to hunt a church ground about 20 minutes north of me. The church itself isn’t very old, but I was anxious to see what was hidden beneath it’s soils.
As I drove not to far north, my heart sunk as I saw snow. This town still had snow on a lot of the lawns. I hadn’t accounted for that! Luckily, when I got to the church, about 80% of the grass was visible, and 90% of it was diggable. So I went to work!
My very first dig of the day I at first thought was garbage. Just some foil never properly thrown away. But as I cleaned off the dirt I noticed a design! Not certain what it was (and I’m still not certain) I noticed the design was quite intricate, so in my good finds pouch it went.
From there I went on to find a LOT of wheat pennies. The oldest dates back to 1918. A good sign indeed.
But no older coins surfaced. I moved from the side yard of the rectory to the front lawn. The ground here was a little firmer, but not frozen solid. After a few junk finds I unearthed this beautiful crucifix:
It’s not jewelry, and the backside is plain. After showing it to the monsignor and a few nuns, the best guess we have is that it once adorned the side of a casket. But it’s just a guess. If you look closely, the design is composed of the stations of the cross.
Exhausting the rectory lawn, I turned my focus the front lawn of the church itself. My very first dig was a button, and it wouldn’t be until later till I realized that I had a rare one!
After being unable to find any other examples of this button, I reached out to a couple very knowledgeable button experts. According to Harry Ridgeway of relicman.com, “The plain face button could be either an early militia button or a civilian button. Either way it is early and relatively rare.” Thanks also to Larry Hockman who helped date the button to between 1820-1840.
If you look closely at the backside, you’ll notice there’s still cloth beneath the shank. Somehow it’s survived all these years!
This hunt was definitely worth the wait. Now that spring is coming, I hope to save a lot of other relics and coins from an eternal burial. Stay tuned!