The James Wadsworth home at the corner of Higginum Road and Main Street in Durham was full of activity Saturday morning.
About two dozen members of the Yankee Territory Coinshooters methodically walked the fields around the home built in 1709, armed with metal detectors.
Henry Blakeslee has occupied the land for most of his 73 years and stood next to an old red barn that had been uprooted and moved to the property years ago, watching the men slowly move across his land in search of long forgotten treasures.
The YTC, a group comprised of people from all around the Hartford area that have a true love for American History, meets on the second Tuesday of each month at the East Hartford Library.
The consensus from the group is that metal detecting is both relaxing and thrilling at the same time. Each hunt has different outcomes, producing coins or relics.
Roger Moyles suggested that in metal detecting, a relic is anything that’s not a coin and while the crew may go home empty handed, the hunt makes it worth their while.
Common finds include belt buckles, pipes, buttons, hardware, tack, and bullets of various sorts.
The passion for the hobby becomes clear when a YTC member digs-up a three-cent nickel from 1867. Running a small stream of water over the coin reveals its beautiful detail.
Moyles also holds a large cent dating back to 1837 in his dirt-covered hands. The coin stands apart from the others because during the same period, a smaller coin of the same denomination was produced.
Robert Ellis, a specialist in artifact recovery and identification gathered with the men in the field to observe what they had unearthed on this sunny April morning.
During their monthly meetings, YTC members present their newfound treasures unearthed at various outings, allowing them to gain valuable information from each other and look to literary resources for more information on the artifacts.
Ray Dapkus of Colchester huddles with the group to show everyone the Lewis Tomes button he had dug from the soil. The button was likely fabricated between 1820 and 1832, he thinks.
But with many finds, more questions are unanswered. “It’s exciting and you begin to wonder. Was it on his vest? What did it its owner look like? Was he tall or short, friendly or mean? Part of their personality comes out with each find," Dapkus says.
The club works with the state on various searches and even scoured Connecticut's eastern woods, digging to find the historical artifacts of the Mashantucket Pequots for Foxwoods.
But on this day, members are making their second trip to the Wadsworth home. The property has been nicknamed Arnold’s Corner because it is said that Benedict Arnold of Revolutionary War fame trained soldiers in the adjoining fields.
The property's original owner had more than 600 acres of land, a territory that stretched from Haddam Quarter Road all the way to Miller’s pond. Thomas Hooker was said to be an occupant of the territory.
Down in the field, Bill Wright proudly shows his Revolutionary finds for the day. He smiles as he dusts off a musket ball and a lead seal found a few inches below the dirt.
“That artifacts are usually found near the house, but you really never know what you’ll find in the fields," he says.
Treasure hunting is a great for kids and grown-ups alike. Higher end metal detectors range from $750 to $2000, but it doesn’t hurt to send the kids digging with their $25 detectors.
For more information on Yankee Territory Coinshooters and the club’s activities, visit their website at www.yankeeterritorycoinshooters.com.