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A lost treasure we didn't find, a long story.....

JB(MS)

New member
In early 2000 I was browsing the Civil War Official Records and ran across a report that mentioned a regiment of Tennessee calvary had camped at a church on the Pontotoc-Verona road near Palmetto. I went to the USGS online database, got the coordinates for the three churches in the vicinity mentioned in the report, entered them in my GPS and the following Saturday Bob and I went looking for them. We found them without any problems and after talking to the locals we found that only one was in existence during the Civil War so it had to be the one mentioned in the report.

When we got to it we found the church, paved parking lot and cemetery took up most of the space but there was a half acre or so park with a couple of benches on the east side of the church we could easily hunt. A young boy, maybe 12 years old, was mowing the park so I told him we would like to check it out with our detectors and asked about getting permission from the minister. He directed us to his father, who lived right across the road from the church. I asked him about the minister and he told me the people I needed to see were Mr and Mrs Yancy. He said they ran the church, actually they ran the entire community, and whatever they said was the way it was. He gave directions to their home and we headed there.

Mr Yancy was coming out of his house when we pulled up, I introduced us and told him we were directed to him for permission to hunt the park by the church. He said sure, go ahead and hunt it and invited us in to talk and to meet his wife. He told us he was 82, she was 86, that his house was built 50 feet east of where the front door of his ancestors antebellum plantation house stood and that his grandfather was 10 years old when the first yankees came to the plantation during the Civil War. He said the plantation was actually the Edwards Plantation and had passed down to him through his mother.

Mrs. Yancy went in another room and came back with a big stack of papers that covered the history of the church since it was founded in 1852. She told us about it and covered it all, including most if not every minister that had pastored the church. It was evident they really enjoyed talking about the history of the plantation and church and we sat there spellbound for over 3 hours just listening. When we left we not only had permission to hunt the park by the church but also all the land on the old plantation site.

A couple of weeks later we hunted the park by the church but it only gave up newer coins, a couple of nondescript buttons and a 1940's wheatie. Mr. Yancy had suggested we also hunt inside the large cemetery but we declined, cemeteries are off limits.

My next day off we hunted the plantation site for several hours. Mr. Yancy told us he had torn the old house down in 1954 when he built his current house but he didn't mention they obviously threw all the old square nails on the ground. The site is loaded with them, and seemingly every other kind of iron object ever devised. We hunted slow and found a few older buttons, four silver coins from the 1940's and 50's, several wheaties, a couple of Missippippi tax tokens, a Colgate-Palmolive token good for a bar of soap and Bob got an 1831 large cent. A fair day by normal standards but certainly not up to expectations.

Before we left, Mr. Yancy talked to us again about the history of the plantation. He said his grandfather, I mentioned above his grandfather was 10 when the first soldiers came, helped his great grandfather bury the family silverware when they heard the first Union soldiers were in the area. He said there were knives, forks, spoons, silver pitchers, salt and pepper containers and serving dishes. They had rolled the silverware up in blankets, dug a hole and buried it in the garden at a depth of 2 to 3 feet. When the occupation force left a few years after the war ended they went to dig it up but couldn't find it. Mr. Yancy said they dug most of the garden up before they gave up. He also said his present garden was in the same place as the garden had been when the silverware was buried and that about 30 years earlier he had got a man with one of them "geiger counters" to look for it but he couldn't find it either. I told him if it wasn't any deeper than his grandfather told him it was that we could find it if it was still there. He got excited and told me we could keep it if we found it, that he just wanted to see it, but I told him no way would we keep it. If he didn't want it his daughters, one of which lived within shouting distance, surely would.

Two weeks later Bob, Jim and I went back. I took my Garrett Bloodhound two box, it's much faster than a conventional detector, doesn't pick up anything smaller than a coke can and the pitcher and serving dishes would certainly be big enough for the two box to find.

It was an unusually hot day for that time of year but when we got there we started hunting with a purpose. Five hours later we were exhausted from the heat but hadn't found the silverware. I had covered the garden spot, and a lot of extra area in every direction from it, thoroughly with the two box and Bob and Jim covered almost as much with their Fishers. All I found with the two box was two pieces of iron large enough for it to see, one of the pieces looked like part of an old wood burning stove or heater and was over two feet down.

I was disappointed we didn't find it although I had my doubts all along about it being there. Mr. Yancy was also disappointed but perked up a little when I told him we would be back and might just find it next time. As we were putting our equipment in the truck Mr Yancy's son in law walked up. He said he knew we had been hunting for the silverware and wanted to tell us we were wasting our time, that no silverware was there. He said when the war ended and the plantation slaves were freed that some of them slipped back at night and dug the silverware up. The Edwards had given each adult male slave 40 acres of land on the west side of the plantation and some of them had told members of the Edwards family about the other slaves digging it up and selling it. He said that story had been passed down through his wife's family since it happened, but Mr Yancy refused to believe it and swore religiously the silverware was still there. Of course he could have just wanted us to stop hunting it, but I believe he was telling us the truth. I thanked him and we left, but I planned on giving it another try even though I was convinced he was right.

Sadly, Mr Yancy had a stroke and passed away before we got back and we never hunted the site again. I wish we could have found the silverware, but just having the privilege of meeting and listening to the Yancy's was a treasure I'll not forget.

Postscript:

When we went to hunt the park by the church there was a tiny old lady there picking up sticks and putting them in a very small wheelbarrow. She was thin as a rail and dressed in 1800's style clothes, a plain, long sleeved ankle length dress that looked homespun and an old timey bonnet on her head. She walked very, very slowly and when she moved the wheelbarrow every step seemed to take several seconds. I walked over to her and asked if she couldn't get any men to help her. She replied that men were sorry, good for nothing know it all trash and she wanted no truck with them, present company not excluded, but she had a big smile on her face and used more colorful language. I talked to her for quite a long time, her body might have been weak but her mind and wit were sharp as a tack. Turns out she was Mrs Yancy's sister and had been widowed for almost 30 years. She said she would be 91 her next birthday and owned the house and land just east of the small park. She told me to take my "geiger counter" find some money on her place and we would split it or run off together and share it. I have to admit I spent less time detecting than I did following her around. She was an awesome lady.
 

Larry (IL)

Well-known member
Wow what a story. You can meet some very interesting and knowledgeable people if one would just give it a chance. Unfortunately, many detectorists are introverts and shy away from such interaction.
 

mudpuppy

New member
That IS an awesome story JB, from start to finish! Very good flow that just pulls a fellow right in...I agree with Larry, some of the best memories and exciting tales come from spry old folk...going from the stone age into the space age in one lifetime, definitely merits a listen...
 

Nancy-IL

Well-known member
What a story JB(MS), That's a story that's worth more than a few pieces of silver or gold. Thank you for sharing it from the bottom of my heart. HH, Nancy
 

Hank68

Well-known member
Fantastic story!
 

JB(MS)

New member
I was born and grew up within 300 yards of a fairly large country store that was built by John and Will Roberts in 1880 and left to their nephew and niece when they died. The store was a meeting place for old guys in the neighborhood, and except on days it was too cold or rainy there were always from three or four to as many as eight or nine old guys sitting on the two benches on it's porch swapping stories and yarns and talking about old times and old places. When I was nine years old, in 1952, my mother got a job and I was left at home alone, so I began hanging around the store listening to the old guys. In addition to telling tales, they swapped knives, chewed tobacco, cursed and whittled on the benches. Those old guys were responsible for my interest in history, especially local history, and I developed a deep respect for the knowledge they possessed. What I heard and learned from those old guys had a large impact on me and my life. Even though I'm now an "old folk" I still like to listen to old timers talk about old times, old places and old time events. The benches that were on the porch of the store from 1880 until the store closed in the early 1970's are now on the porch of the funeral home here in town and occasionally I stop by, sit on them and it always brings back forgotten memories. The photos shows the benches on the funeral home porch, how the old guys whittled on them, and even some whittling I did on them.

bench2.jpg

bench1.jpg
 

TerraDigger

New member
I would love to meet that 'old woman'. What a treat that would be. Great story. Thanks for sharing....just to know there are people like that still around:)
 

Nancy-IL

Well-known member
So very interesting JB. Life is good! HH, Nancy
 

Larry (IL)

Well-known member
There is a lot of history with those old benches........:thumbup:
 
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