In a previous entry, I wrote about a property in the southwest, NJ, area that yielded some very interesting history. That property, once the site of a mid-1700s structure and now home to an 1890s farmhouse, sits adjacent to a vast acreage of fields that are farmed from April through November. In late November, when the property owner notified me that the fields were barren (yet ripe for metal detecting) following the annual soybean harvest, I made the 40-minute trek there with excitement as to what history they held.
For privacy reasons, I can’t divulge the specific history behind this immediate area, but I can say that there are colonial structures in very close proximity and that these fields were later part of a well-known South Jersey dairy farm that is now extinct along with the milkman himself.
On my initial outing in the fields, I managed some thrilling finds, including my first draped bust silver dime (1823), a late-1700s French half sol copper coin, a pre-Civil War patriotic button, various early 1800s flat buttons, the bowl portion of a silver spoon, and some musket balls.
Those finds aside, the real “treasure” of this site is the peacefulness it provides. Despite the vast land area to cover, the signals are extremely few and far between. It takes a lot of patience and determination to metal detect here because much of the time is played to a soundtrack of silence. The reward is a lack of modern junk to sift through, so when a good signal is finally encountered, it is usually something noteworthy.
Now, many people don’t like field detecting. You have to deal with various factors not applicable to detecting at a private homesite, like the annoyance of corn or soybean stumps limiting your swings, a whipping wind that always seems to make its presence known, and the imposing threat of late-fall field hunters who might mistake you for a live target (always where bright colors!).
I don’t mind these factors at all, however. There’s something peaceful yet invigorating about being just a small silhouette against a seemingly endless horizon, swinging a machine with equally endless optimism that history will show itself. And, when your hard work results in an interesting 18th or 19th century relic staring back at you, it is quite clear that it is all worth it.
Stay tuned for updates covering subsequent visits to these fields.