Reading Required…


All quiet on the home front but feeling somewhat productive. I’ve been hanging out at the Rockwall County Library, taking lots of notes and driving here and there but so far….no cigar. There’s still however a lot more material to read, digest and follow-up on. The library has a great local history section but as you’d expect most of it is not for ‘home’ consumption.

I’ve enjoyed reading the memoirs of the early settlers/pioneers but so far the majority of the leads I’ve found have come from church histories. Of particular interest to me are the mentions of outdoor church suppers, or as they refer to them here in Texas “dinner on the grounds”….a couple of which I was fortunate enough to find and hunt when I was living in New Jersey. As of now I haven’t found a location here but it appears these gatherings happened far more in Texas than back east. Crossing my fingers I can find one or two….

All of this has reminded me that there’s a wealth of information for the treasure hunter at the local library….information you won’t find anywhere else.  Personal memoirs, material from diaries, old photos, maps/plats, mentions of old roads, old schools, churches, businesses, celebrations, gatherings and the only cost is your time….

Old yearbooks can sometimes offer up tips when it comes to outdoor athletics…

I initially started with quick glances at names and subjects looking only for keywords like schools, churches, etc. but I slowed down after reading excerpts from a diary. Sprinkled throughout were comments like “big crowd at the picnic today…number estimated at 7,000.” and “church was an all day affair back then. They would have an early morning service and there would be a big dinner (noon meal)” or “after school we would get together to play ball at the empty lot on the corner of”…. 

A “Then and Now” photo book…

So, while I have yet to stumble on a hoard or a new permission all of this has been a reminder that not everything is in cyberspace and that your local library just might be your next best friend. I also started a dialogue with the reference librarian, giving her one of my cards, telling her exactly why I was there and asking her to put a bug in the ear of any seniors who might show up.

We shall see…

And sometimes a lead fizzles…




…we honor and remember all the brave men and women who gave their lives so we could live free in the greatest country in the world. Thanks to them you will be enjoying that cookout, family get-together, parade, fireworks, whatever.  Let’s not get caught up in all the festivities that we forget the real meaning of Memorial Day.





Filed under Metal Detecting

20 responses to “Reading Required…

  1. Tony

    Dick, first off I also give thanks to the men and women who gave thier lives for our freedoms!

    Now, I enjoyed your article “Reading required”, it is right on in our search for better detecting and casche sites. Funny to me because just last night I started re-reading “How to Research for Treasure Hunting and Metal Detecting” by Otto Von Helsing. He even gives you plenty of credit of the four things that you penned for research, What, Where, When and for How Long.
    Great stuff please keep it up!Best of luck in your research at that library.

    • Tony it’s where I am now…not that many great places to detect and I’m not going to go through the down and up routine for clad. We’re also heading for triple digit heat next week. I need new places and places where OLD is going to happen otherwise I’m retired.

  2. Tony

    Dick, I hear ya! Clad is overrated and boring for sure. I have realized that you and others are right – it’s out there and research is the only tool we really don’t talk enough about or do enough. Spending time on research is smart. Now I understand the phrase – “Time is Money”…. Time in the field should be refined down to better detecting spots.

    • Tony my age as well as my physical limitations play a big role in my efforts now and I just won’t head out in the heat to find the “routine” stuff. Interesting too that a lot of tekkies today are trying to take the “routine” finds and turn them into treasure….a sign of the times.

  3. I feel that what you’ve written is going to come as something of a shock to many Yootoobers! Yep, they’ve got to get off their backsides and work for their finds; then use their two-Grand, all-singing, all-dancing machines, to prove what they have discovered. The next shock comes with the realisation that a machine at less than half the price does the same job!!

    I’ve always found research being the most interesting part of our pastime. It often proves the deal clincher when asking for permission especially when you provide certain historical data previously unknown by the landowner/farmer.

    The man standing extreme left in the first photo seems very familiar…was the food good?

  4. Tony

    What I want to know is who was taking the picture at Uncle Bud Tippett’s tank? Was he in the deep part of the tank? I still am wondering if they went into the water in their Sunday best?
    Those old photo’s really tell terrific stories.

  5. Right on target Dick. I find a great deal of operators who are “addicted” (their term not mine) to the hobby, insomuch as they are human vacuum cleaners razzing the landscape with blurry eyes and not much for looking into things beforehand, are the ones who jump at the latest hysterically-promoted machine.

    We have a great deal of libraries and specialized museums who have research nooks providing an amazing resource in telephone books, maps, old newspapers, et al. I use a museum research source in another county, and they do not charge you for the use of, or even admission to, the museum proper if you are there to take notes and scan old documents. I still pay the $3 admission regardless. One of the curators told me I’m one of only 2 people who has utilized the research nook over the last 7 or 8 months.

    We have an overflow of treasure hunters, but very few that know books don’t need a power source or a software upgrade every month. The material has been an eye-opener for me, even if it does not always put me on a new detecting site, because of the social attitudes of the times, and the way they refer to the social classes in the county back in the day. At any rate, if it ain’t got an HD screen, with stereo sound at the push of a button, you won’t see today’s group bothering to really research much of anything. I always get a kick out of some social posts where somebody says “I’ve done a lot of research on a certain WEBSITE…” or a.k.a the INTERNET. It is estimated that only half a percent of published works have been moved to the internet for “on your arse” viewing, and most of the material is still in hard-copy form in archives, libraries and museums. A good thing for those of use who know better!

    • Honestly Jim I’e gotten lazy too and spending time at the library has at least given me some hope that I can find a few “old” goodies. Back in the 70’s and 80’s I spent a lot of evenings at the library and almost always found something new and worthwhile each trip. Again, all it takes is time and the ability to read which I’ afraid is becoming a thing of the past.

  6. Bob Sickler

    I started using the microfilm and microfiche viewers at my local library in the mid 1970’s specifically to learn about “picnic groves” I interviewed older residents about in my area. These old groves, a few still hidden yet and undiscovered, were a great source of entertainment and revenue for the rural church and its members. My first success at finding a grove had me literally “walking on my knees” facilitated by a shortened pole of my detector… Forty-plus Indian Head cents in the first hour of the first hunt made me a believer in what these people were telling me. Later in the day Seated, Barber and even a stray odd Large Cent were the norm. One very old gentleman (long since passed), 39 years ago, told me his mother took him to a local grove when he was a young child. His memory and testimony of it later put me on the fast track to its not perfectly documented specific location.

    The beauty here is there is no modern refuse in these locations if abandoned early enough. The worst trash I would find in most groves were occasional steel “crown” bottlecaps, square nails from disintegrated vendor stands, and Hutchinson soda bottle stoppers… Ferrous content in targets was not much of a problem for the non-motion discriminating detectors of the day, even at a “zero” disc setting. My detector of choice back then was a beloved “new” Garrett ADS Groundhog. A detector I have recently been re-connected with. These older machines still have some valuable attributes in the right locations and it is fun to re-live the nostalgia of earlier good times.

    Metal detectors then and now all were/are competitive. What makes them work extremely well is knowing how to better research and locate a productive huntsite…. Period!

    • Bob I know exactly what your saying…and yes the no pulltabs. Can you imagine that… I did a couple of earlier blog posts about picnic groves/church suppers and not sure how many detectorists today actually look for them. The best part is that if they’re not paved over permission is not all that difficult.

      Thanks for sharing and hi to everyone back east.

      • Bob’s right! Where there’s old trash, there’s old coins too! I’m not sure that many of today’s generation of Tekkies would recognise ‘old trash’ either in bottle cap form or any other. It’s a pity for them, but one of the benefits of being a ‘wrinklie’ like us.

      • Wrinkle? I might be an beat up wino, but “wrinkle”? Speak for yourself you slovenly souse.

      • Incidentally Bubba Barford just put up his photo! Finally….

    • Bob said “These older machines still have some valuable attributes in the right locations and it is fun to re-live the nostalgia of earlier good times.”

      made me remember….

      “The over-all point is that new technology will not necessarily replace old technology, but it will date it. By definition. Eventually, it will replace it. But it’s like people who had black-and-white TVs when color came out. They eventually decided whether or not the new technology was worth the investment”…. Steve Jobs

  7. Nah, that ain’t Bubba Barford…that one looks far too sophisticated I reckon.

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