As seen in the June 2001 edition of W&ET Magazine
You Can Go Back Home
By: Ed Fedory
For the better part of two centuries the old center-hall Colonial stood on the crossroad, witnessing the progress from rural country lane to asphalt two-lane highway... from farm wagons and horseback riders to SUV's and motorcycles. Toward her latter years, the signs of advanced age became more apparent, and from lack of tender care she swiftly deteriorated beyond repair. Today, she is only a cherished memory for some, or a faded photograph for others.
Recently razed, the old center-hall Colonial had stood on the side of the rural road for two centuries.
It was only a few months ago that her walls were bulldozed into the laid stone foundations and her remnants set afire. When I first visited the site upon which she once stood, smoke was still rising from the soil that had been pushed over her charred remains. For relic hunter Joe Anderson, the old dwelling held a special significance, as it was the home in which his mother had spent a good deal of her youth.
I always feel a certain sadness when I see an old building destroyed. Two stone dwellings from the 1700s have been put beneath the bulldozer's blade in our town in the last decade, and I viewed their demise as one would a giant eraser being drawn across the pages of history. Yet, how much more personally saddened must Joe have felt when he walked across that now vacant lot?
Little remains on the surface today to remind one of the old dwelling which once stood on the grounds. It took a couple of metal detectors in the hands of determined relic hunters to bring the past to light!
"I wasn't feeling in the best of spirits," recalled Joe, "as I walked across the site. I thought about how many times I had driven past the old homestead and never given it too much thought, but now that she was gone, I missed her. I guess that little walk across the grounds was my way of saying, 'Goodbye'... and just perhaps, that large cent sitting on the surface to the side of the bulldozer's tracks was her way of saying, 'Don't be a stranger.'
Searching around the stone foundation of an outbuilding, Joe unearthed a large cent and a Colonial state-issued coin.
Changing his strategy, Joe decided to hunt a side bank that contained the remains of one of the outbuildings. Swinging his coil around the foundation remains, Joe suddenly heard a loud signal running through his headset. "From the reading on my meter, I knew it was probably another copper coin, but I certainly wasn't expecting what I was about to recover!"
The number and wide variety of finds attest to the continual habitation of the dwelling during the last 200 years.
While Joe was digging the large cent, Jimmy was having his own run of luck in the area once occupied by the stables. "It was easy to tell I was working the stable site by the number of harness rivets I was digging. Every time I would get a signal and check the meter, I thought I was going to pull a nice copper coin from the ground, only to find that the recovered target had magically transformed into another rivet... but I really couldn't complain, as it broke the monotony of digging all those horse and ox shoes!"
The Colonial site yielded a wide variety of coins including large cents, Spanish and American silver, Indian Heads, and even a King George copper.
Searching the area of the old orchard resulted in a number of large one-piece buttons, and the oldest coin recovered. "At first, I thought it was another button," said Joe, but it was a lot thicker than the ones I had previously recovered. After a quick field cleaning, I found that I was holding my first King George copper from the site."
Some of the finds dated from the days when Joe's family owned the home, but most were from far earlier times!
It would be several weeks following the series of hunts on the site, before I would hear about the find that meant the most to Joe. It was one of those cool, late November evenings, and I had just finished splitting wood for the campfire. The Hudson had yet to freeze, and the first flights of geese were coming in with the setting sun. Joe broke the companionable silence with a few simple words. "You know which find I liked the best from the hunt at the old Colonial?"
For long minutes, the silence was only punctuated by the crackling campfire and the geese overhead...