Treasure Hunting in Appalachia

tipper and Paul

Paul and me on one of our treasure hunting trips up the creek. I don’t know which is worse-my knee socks or my Dorothy Hamel haircut-but isn’t Paul a cutie pie.

Over the years I’ve collected treasure from the area surrounding my house. I only wish I had written down exactly where I found each one. I’ve found plate pieces in the creek that runs through our holler or along the trails and road beds that criss-cross this area.

I have buttons that came from old house places-one from an old house Pap lived in when he was about 10 years old. It was where he lived when his only sister was just a baby. One day Pap was left in charge of watching her while his mother worked in the fields-only he didn’t do a good job- she ate some rocks which resulted in Pap getting a good whipping.

Many of my treasures came by way of Paul. He is an avid arrowhead hunter and always brings me any buttons or glass bottles he finds.

Arrowheads and canning lids

These are a few arrowheads The Deer Hunter or I have found over the years, along with more plate and canning lid pieces. I just love to think about the Indian who made the arrowheads and what he was shooting at when he lost them.

The pieces of plate and canning lids-I can just see the little ladies who used them. What did they can? What did they serve their family to eat? I don’t know-but I do know those pieces were used with love for the very survival of their families. That line of thinking always brings me back to wondering what happened to the folks in the end-where did they go and why did so many fragments of their lives end up in the sandy creek bed?

Chatter and Chitter are obsessed with finding bits of old treasure-just like their Momma.

Some of their latest finds-a piece of barbwire, glass bits, plates shards and an old bottle.

Over the years I’ve collected other bits and pieces, I wish I knew why I kept them. A few I remember-the piece of pink beaded necklace made by Granny, a pink butterfly off one of my Mamaw’s dresses (she died when I was in 5th grade), the letters from my baby bracelet, an old pin from Fontana Dam, and 2 nickels cut by Steve, my oldest brother.

All my treasures are worthless in a monetary sense-but are priceless to me. Bits and pieces that make up my life, make up who I am.

What treasures have you found on your journey?



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  • Reply
    June 21, 2008 at 10:05 am

    This so much reminds me of my brother who used to spend entire days in the summer doing what we termed “dump digging”. There were many old long gone homesteads that used to have dump piles that they used to throw their waste in (before landfills). He has a huge collection of glass bottles of all colors and makes. I collect heart shaped rocks and my oldest granddaughter finds them for me now as well. I will also bring back from the Oregon coast shells and interesting little bits of driftwood each time I visit.

  • Reply
    June 20, 2008 at 10:12 am

    My brother and I used to follow the plow and pick up arrowheads and pieces of native pottery. Our area is rich in Native culture and they were here long before the European settlers came.
    On Grandpa’s farm there was a Native burial ground. We found pipes, pottery and all kind of items that the natives used in their daily lives.
    I too am a treasure hunter. We don’t have too many places left to search for treasure. This region is too build up, but thanks for the memories.

  • Reply
    Granny Sue
    June 19, 2008 at 11:26 pm

    Boy, we are kindred souls here. I have beads and bits of glass, arrowheads, buttons, old cards and letters–I’ve collected stuff like this since I was a kid. I’ve occasionally had cleaning-out fits so I don’t have it all and that’s a good thing. But I will pick up shards of glass, rocks, buttons–you name it.
    A bit of trivia–recently when I was telling stories beside a creek I spied a piece of light purple glass. I picked it up and kept it. I had learned only days previously that glass made prior to 1915 will turn purple in direct sunlight because it contains manganese. So that piece I found was pretty old. What was it part of? I don’t know, but I’ll keep that piece just to remember the day and the place.

  • Reply
    Mrs. Hillbilly
    June 19, 2008 at 11:00 am

    I wonder if hunting for arrowheads is a southern thing, cause I know so many people who do it or did as a hobby that it’s crazy. My own Momma loved to hunt arrowheads and used to go down to the river bottoms in the Spring after the fields were plowed and hunt them for hours and hours. She got hawk eyed with them, and to where she could see them from so far away I thought she had some kind of superpower!

  • Reply
    June 18, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    Does it count that when I was 5 years old and swimming in the creek with my rubber boats on, that when I took it off there was a craw daddy inside of it? I screamed so loud they heard me in the next county I’m sure. That was one thing I didn’t keep for my collection.
    Or how about the time we lived next door to church, as we walked across the parking lot to mass, I found a $20 dollar bill. That was in 1970, that bought us a week’s worth of groceries back then.
    We now live on the bluffs above the Osage River, where the indians had to of traveled. I am always on the look out for some relics.

  • Reply
    Sandra Evertson
    June 18, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Wow, I LOVE your treasures! Just the sorts of things I collect! I just did a post a few weeks back on some of the very same things, marbles, rusty keys, pretty flint and arrowheads! Just Wonderful!
    Sandra Evertson

  • Reply
    cathy nash
    June 18, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    I love trying to imagine the stories behind the things we find on our little farm. Our house is over 200 years old–we moved it to its current location. We’ve found so many interesting things!
    Another great post!

  • Reply
    June 18, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    Hi Tipper
    I collect old found bottles, seashells by the hundreds and rocks. I can’t think of anything else, but I’m sure I will as soon as I hit the post button.

  • Reply
    Dina in Jerusalem
    June 18, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Tipper wow, this is great. You and your kids and your commenters and I are all kindred souls in this!
    Maybe Chitter and Chatter can come to Israel as volunteers at an excavation when they finish high school.
    Just think, I get paid to dig in the dirt and find ancient stuff.
    But wherever I go, I am on the lookout for treasures such as yours.
    Thanks SO MUCH for sharing this!

  • Reply
    June 18, 2008 at 7:41 am

    My kids love to collect rocks.. They pick them up everywhere we go. We have some interesting ones. Me on the other hand, I collect buttons.. I love buttons! New, old it doesn’t matter I just want them for whatever project might come up when I would need them. Missed stopping by.. glad to be back over here!

  • Reply
    The Texican
    June 18, 2008 at 7:21 am

    It’s not the treasures I’ve collected that cause me pause, it’s the one’s I let slip through my hands. I used to make arrows out of the many points we found and shoot them from bows I made. I listened to a lot of history from my granddad, but I had no notion of recording it. We played with old bottles and other items when we were kids that I see in antique stores today. I do have the old bull whip my granddad made with a connecting device he invented using some old military brass. Good memories. Pappy

  • Reply
    June 18, 2008 at 12:17 am

    I also used to have alot of momentos I collected on walks when I was younger, but my mom didn’t appreciate my collection and threw it out at some point. 😉
    I’m always keeping my eyes glued to the ground when hiking or walking, waiting for that treasure to appear ’round the next bend. 🙂

  • Reply
    June 17, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    I just clicked over from Park Wife, a blogging pal of mine. When i saw this post, I instantly knew I would read on at your page. I have old mason jars of antique buttons from my Grandma and Paps house. I also would go on treasure hunts and find old bottles between their property and ours. This post really touched me. Can’t wait to read on at your blog. I am book marking you for sure. Enjoyed this tremendously!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy-Black Mountain, NC
    June 17, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    What a great post! I have collected many found treasures over the years. I guess my favorites have been rocks and bones. I have both all over my house. I love the energy I can feel from them. I wonder where they have been and what road brought them to me.
    Today I was going through some of my old books. They were full of cards from people I love (some dead now), articles that were important to me at some time, notes to myself, and quotes that had meaning to me at some past time. My bookcase is a treasure hunt all by itself!
    Thanks for the warm hearted memories.

  • Reply
    Jennifer in OR
    June 17, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    LOVE this! Like Paul, I’m an avid arrowhead hunter. Our property that I talk about alot was Pauite land, and we are actually the first people since them to live on it. Well, we’re not living there full time yet, but will be in a few months (God willing, the house will be done!). But we’re there every day.
    Me and the kids first discovered a special spot a few months back where the Indians must have sat and have their little “arrowhead making factory.” It’s littered with hundreds of chips of obsidian, which isn’t native to this piece of land. So anything black and shiny we grab! Funny how no matter how often we find an arrowhead chip, we get so excited! I found a nearly complete arrowhead recently, along one of the deer trails there. It’s crazy how we don’t even have to dig for these – after a rain, they just come to the surface and make themselves known! It’s such a dry, desert climate here that things are very well preserved.
    Aside from arrowheads, I have collections of bits and pieces. Foreign coins, old postcards, a piece of the Berlin Wall. And the deer sheds are so fun to hunt for.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    I love all of the great things you have collected! I love finding things, and one of my favorite things to do when I was a kid was browsing around in the creek close to our house.

  • Reply
    Carolyn A.
    June 17, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    I have bits and pieces of so many things, but my main collection consists of foreign coins that my Dad and I have collected together. We’d find them buried in the ground, by the river, at the seashore and on the road. One we found was smaller than a dime. That one is Dad’s favorite.
    Tipper, I will send you a picture of my bulletin board at work. People bring me back things from places they’ve travelled to … I even have a voodoo doll straight from Louisiana. xxoo

  • Reply
    June 17, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    Love this post. Being a science teacher for many, many years, I love to search for treasures such as rocks, shells, skulls, etc.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    That’s a great collection. My grandma has one like it that she keeps stored in canning jars on the window. Over the years I’ve collected odds and ends– mainly rocks and and pieces from traveling– and kept them for years but I’ve always eventually thrown them out. I really have to or my house would be taken over by the little bits.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    Wow! You’ve taken me back several years, rather decades! I used to collect trinkets from gumball machines. I’d do anything to have them still but I’ve no idea what happened to them. I think your pieces would look really cool on display somehow ~ maybe in a clear glass lamp base, or under a glass-topped table, or in a printer’s box hung on the wall. I just LOVE old things, especially when they hold personal memories …

  • Reply
    June 17, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    ooo, good question. Here in the south we look for sharks teeth. Every once in a while, we’ll find some colored glass. Of course all the seashells are great and we make them into windchimes.
    Up north, we look for rocks, pinecones, a tree with the maple syrup funnel still stuck in there, old boards, fishing bobbers, etc.
    All bring back good memories. 🙂

  • Reply
    June 17, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    I love to peek in on your blog….When my son started kindergarden, he would pick up any and everything he saw and stuff it in his pockets….I started keeping a shoe box near the washer, so i could save all of his “Pocket Treasures”….he is now 17 and I love to look in that box and remember my sweet little boy…..

  • Reply
    June 17, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    I loved this post Tipper. It reminds me of so many things I too have tucked around the house. I just moved here late last summer and some of your thoughts ran through my head when I packed seemingly worthless things – sentimental little pieces no one would recognize – a coin, a chewing gum paper chain,buttons,rocks, and I wish like you I had wrote down where and maybe organized it somehow.
    My Dad loved old bottles. He gave me quite a few. Two small medicine ones that I especially treasure.
    I think us folks who love the “country life” have an appreciation others don’t understand.
    Loved this post today.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Hey Tipper,
    Oh, this takes me back. My grandfather and dad both worked in the mines and they were always unearthing these beautiful bottles…I loved them all especially the blue ones. Mom has promised that I get them someday.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    Pretty fun! I once found an antique compact w/ rouge in it in a creek bed. Wish I knew what happened to it!
    I’m hosting a blog fest called “It’s Real Life” on Thursday. Hope you can come play!

  • Reply
    June 17, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    What a fun collection! A few years back my mom took some of her collection and plastered them to a bunch flower pots. She gave one to each of us kids – I don’t use it but I have it in a special spot. Bits and pieces from years gone by. . .

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    June 17, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Tipper: I actually have a collection of beat up coins that I have found through the years. I carry that group of coins while fishing as a lucky charm. I like to have them with me on the lake.
    I used to collect frog things and had a good collection but quit doing it. I used to get them as presents from people.
    I also recently have collected all the new state quarters to date and put them in a book.

  • Reply
    Razor Family Farms
    June 17, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    I love these collections! The old bottles are terrific! I like old chemist bottles and beakers, too. They come is such fabulous shapes! I collected arrowhead as a child. They vanished in one of our many moves but they would unearth themselves whenever we tilled the garden.

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