As seen in the January 2004 edition of W&ET Magazine
George Lesche: Tool Designer/Relic Hunter
By: Ed Fedory
"If you're going to do the job, you'd better have the right tools."
Metal detecting and relic hunting is a family thing in the Lesche household. Both George and his wife, Pam, believe that relic hunting has given their children a greater appreciation for the past.
And from those many years in the past, my father's words guided me through the project: "A slow job is a good job... measure three times, cut once... take pride in your work... any job worth doing, is worth doing right." I guess it's pretty much what we try to get through to children today... as parents... as teachers.
One of George's favorite Civil War sites is a section of the Bermuda Hundred where General Benjamin Butler's Federal troops were bottled up. Shown here are some of the Federal earthworks constructed in that area during the Civil War. (Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.)
There's that other old saying, which is kind of suspect when it comes to making your own digging tools: "If you want the job done right, do it yourself." It sounds pretty neat, conceptually; but in terms of being practical, it usually doesn't work out. I don't enjoy looking under the hood of my truck very much anymore... too many vacuum hoses, sensors, and wires, for me. And when was the last time you practiced dentistry on yourself? Right, you pulled out a baby tooth once. I mean as an adult. No, some things are just better left to the pros.
Digging into the past is one of George's favorite pastimes when he's not designing new Predator Tools for the metal detecting industry.
The key thing is, George started building his digging tools for himself. Then his digging buddies wanted some, and according to George it all just began snowballing, up to the point where he and his wife, Pam, now own and operate their own manufacturing company- Predator Tools.
With nearly 30,000 Federal troops stalled at the Bermuda Hundred, it should come as no surprise that it is a history laden and relic rich area. In this 1864 picture a work party is constructing a defensive line of mortar emplacements. (Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.)
For myself, I never thought anything would interrupt my desire to hunt French & Indian War and Revolutionary War sites. Then I went to Virginia! To be honest, I didn't find a bag full of relics, but I did manage to find enough to plant this little nagging seed of a thought that keeps telling me that I have to go back there and do some more digging. There wasn't much of what I would call "easy digging"- you really earned what you found- but I guess it was just the feeling that came up from the ground and through your boots that you were walking on historic soil with each footstep you took. It was easy for me to understand what George was saying... been there... done that... have to do it again.
On May 20, 1864, Beauregard mounted an attack against the Bermuda Hundred line. He drove back all of the advance pickets and then constructed a series of strongly fortified entrenchments called the Howlett Line which bottled up the Federal troops on the peninsula.
Living in New Jersey gives George and his family the opportunity to search many Colonial sites yielding King George coppers, shoe buckles, and buttons. He is also within a relatively short distance of numerous Civil War sites.
According to George, "This is the only place I've ever relic hunted where I could also find arrowheads, fossil shark teeth up to 5" in length, and relics from the War of 1812, as well as the Civil War. It's just a super site! You're still able to see the trenches and gun emplacements, and when you walk through the woods you can see the depressions in the ground caused by heavy naval artillery fire from ships on the James River 140 years ago!
"You can never tell just what is going to come out of the ground at The Hundred," says George. "Minie balls are expected, as are buttons, but you can never tell when that piece of "Big Iron" is going to ring out!"
"We've dug up numerous Minie balls and buttons on the site, but the fascination of holding a piece of history in your hand is incredible. You're the first person to touch the object since its original owner lost or dropped it all those years ago."