The Treasures Of Mendon
By: Ron Marino
The following inscription can be found on a weather-worn marker on a small triangle of land in the southeastern section of Mendon, Massachusetts:
Near this Spot
The Wife and Son of
The Son of John Rockwood
And Other Inhabitants of Mendon
Were killed by Nipmuck Indians
14 July 1675
Of King Phillip's War
In the Colony of Massachusetts
The murder of these settlers triggered the onslaught of King Phillip's War in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The first meeting house, erected in 1668, and all the other buildings in the settlement were burned by the Indians. Mendon was completely destroyed.
Today, much of historic Mendon still exists as it did then, although in some rural areas the edge of progress appears in the distance. Searching these Colonial home sites with their original fields, I have found Indian arrowheads, musketballs, and artifacts of that era in abundance. To me, the most intriguing of these items would be the numerous varieties of 18th century coins.
Most of the land in Mendon is privately owned, and getting permission to metal detect on its rolling fields and woodlots is a must. (Let's not ruin it for the next guy.) Early fall would be the ideal time for a first-time visitor to experience the aesthetic charm of this small New England town. With miles of stone walls and scenic hillsides dotted with old granite foundations, it's a relic hunter's dream.
With a little research, early Colonial home sites can be easily located, and even a rookie detectorist will have no problem finding early farm implements, pewter utensils, and other artifacts offering a glimpse of the struggle for survival experienced by the first settlers. Occasionally, we have come across what appear to be campsites of Revolutionary War troops, and the level of competition is always intense when we search these areas.
My own experiences in detecting these early home sites have provided me with not only a treasure trove of artifacts but also volumes of knowledge of Colonial times. As mentioned earlier, my interest in early Colonial coins is the driving force that keeps me coming back to this area.
King George coppers and shillings, Spanish reales, and Irish farthings, can all be found in these fields, along with a large assortment of early 1800s U.S. coins. When detecting for these, I use a White's MXT with a Double D #1400 coil. I find this combination works well in both depth and identification, and of course I always make sure I have fresh batteries. It should also be noted that the signals, both audio and visual, from coins at depths of 8-10" are definitely different from those of coins which are found just a few inches below the surface in parks and playgrounds.
It's hard to explain the feeling that you experience the first time you unearth an English coin that has been in the ground for over 250 years, undisturbed. You begin to wonder who held it last, how it was lost, and how it crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a wooden ship centuries ago in someone's pocket. Whose pocket, you wonder... and wonder. You look around, you're alone, and you can feel the warm sun on the back of your neck as you check the date on the coin- 1721- and do some quick math. Wow, 284 years! Then suddenly you feel it... the presence of someone... someone standing very close... yet you're alone. As the sun quickly fades, you feel a chill. You can't explain it, but you know there is someone standing very close. You fill the hole and start back toward the car, taking a quick glance over your shoulder, a few more steps and another quick glance, and think to yourself, "Maybe I'll come back tomorrow and look for more coins... with my hunting buddies."
The following week I was back again, with four of my detecting friends. We stayed the entire day and stopped searching only for a short lunch break. At the end of the day we had a total of 27 Colonial coins, several musketballs, various other items... and no unexpected visitors.
Again detecting at this same field a few days later, I dug up my oldest coin yet, a 1653 Liard de France, my first French coin. Will I be going back? Yes. Alone? I wonder...