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Hunting a 1732 house with history involving Jefferson, Franklin and Meriwether Lewis, a PHENOMINAL 3 days!

I was up in Charlottesville Va to watch my sister-in-law’s animals while she was out of town and planned to do a little hunting while I was there. I was planning on scouting out some spots down by the river and had contacted a friend of ours regarding hunting their farm (now an AWESOME vineyard) further out in the Blue Ridge Mountains, it was once a hog farm and has a nice older home there. Our friends weren’t going to be out on the farm while I was there but they asked if I might be interested in checking out their parents’ house which was local and built in 1732? Are you kidding me? Wow!

But wait, It gets better……..Not only is it an OLD house/farm it was actually lived in by Dr William Basche, grandson of Benjamin Franklin, son of his daughter Sara Franklin. The house was later lived in by Meriwether Lewis when he was the personal secretary of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson had arranged a system of signal flags between his house at Monticello and this house so that Lewis would know when he was needed, I guess the precursor to texting but I’m pretty sure Jefferson didn’t have a “LOL” flag! The main house has had some additions and one of the servant’s quarters was also joined to the house. There are several outbuildings and many acres of property that was once mostly farm fields.

When I heard all of this I couldn’t believe my luck! Of course you KNOW I jumped at the chance and was happy just to have an opportunity to see the place and get the guided tour! Our friend’s parents are the nicest people and were very generous to open their home and property to me. They explained when each section was built or added to the property and showed me some windows that actually came out of Monticello when it was being renovated and added to this house. I was also given the outside tour pointing out where different things are or were and where they believe some of the slave/servant quarters may have been (possibly, and unfortunately, on an adjacent property). Armed with the history of the place and the current owners as interested in what was out there as I was I set into finding what was there.
I had three days of hunting all over the place and while I ranged far and wide just to scout around, I ended up spending much of my time in and around the front and side yards which seemed to have the most interesting targets.

Day 1:

Just recently, I had dug my oldest coin to date (1854 Large Cent) and this day I surpassed that by around ½ century. The coin came out in pretty good shape to the point that I could see that it was a Draped Bust Large Cent (1797-1807) but, while the date is unreadable, the woman’s profile on the front and the detail on the obverse side is pretty good.

The 1899 Indian head penny is in better shape than many of the others I have found so far and has that great green patina.

A large flat button with loop missing and worn smooth.

Day 2:

I pulled out another Large Cent, not too far from where the first one was, but it was in much worse condition than the previous one> It’s the same size and weight but it’s too far gone to really say what variety it is.

This was an interesting one…..while I was digging what turned out to be some small aluminum, this thing comes out of the hole. At first I thought it was what I was digging (found the pull tab next to it) but it is made of clay. I’m pretty sure, and others have said so as well, that it’s an old clay marble. I did some checking online about them but I’m not quite sure how to date this one. It looks pretty rough and possibly handmade but I don’t know enough about them to say. Anyone here know more about them?
The possibilities I came up with are that because of its rough exterior I’m wondering if it could have been the toy of a servant’s child, some kind of Native American game piece, or just some geofact that was formed naturally?

This two piece button is almost impossible to see any real detail as it looks like it was crushed/plow struck. I’ve tried to match it to different designs I have seen before and I’m wondering if it may be a variety of Virginia State Seal button with the “sic semper tyrannis” on it but it’s really far gone.

Day 3:

On my last day there I roamed around to a couple different spots that I hadn’t spent much time in but ended up coming back to the yard around the house and again I was not disappointed.
The two piece button was the first cool find of the day, it was only a few inches down and was in great shape. (oh and let me say all of the stuff all 3 days was 6” or less down, there are a lot of small rocks in the soil that must keep things from going too deep). It has an “M” over an “S” with “HORSTMAN””PHILDAELPHIA” on the reverse. It’s a two piece button that was ID’d by a friend of Max’s as being from the The Miller School of Albemarle. It was a post war co-ed boarding school that was founded in 1878 for orphaned children. Based on its back marks, this button would have been made between 1893-1935.

This pin kind of surprised me, thought it might be kind of old and was hoping it wasn’t a souvenir pin from somebody’s ski trip. I have spent time in Norway and recognized the flag. I had sent pictures to our friends and they found that it is the royal coat of arms for Norway and was used between 1844-1905.

King Oscar I (r. 1844—1859) King Charles IV (r. 1859—1872) King Oscar II (r. 1872—1905)

In the vicinity of where the old outdoor kitchen used to be(it burnt down long ago) I found lots of iron, nails, a small iron spoon bowl, some charred wood and a really nice spoon handle with hallmarks. It is made of nickel and once silver plated. Using the hallmarks on it I found that it is from a company named “Yates” and would have been from the mid 1800’s

This thing was interesting and I’m not sure exactly what it is but it looks like ½ of something and it is stamped “CARPENTERS” and just next to it on the same side what looks like part of the word “PATENT”. There is an etched number on the other side. Anyone know what it is?

This one is another intriguing one. At first I thought it was just some scrap metal but when got it home and cleaned it off, it had a really cool stamped design on it. It’s bronze/copper and looks like it was silver plated at one time. It had a flower motif on it and one end has a punched hole while the other end is bent up and has flowers on it. Some sort of decorative hanging piece or something off of a carriage? (It wasn’t far from one of the carriage stones near the house). I want to straighten it out more but am afraid of breaking it. Suggestions?

Lastly, and this was another dirt covered item that didn’t reveal itself until clean up. I thought it might be part of some of the oil lamp pieces I had dug but it’s not. It’s brass/copper and has beautiful colors. Some kind of Asian dragon on it and it’s either hand pained or enamel but I’m not really sure. It looks really old though. Thoughts?

Final Group Cleanup Photos:

I’ll let all the other pieces speak for themselves, and there are plenty of them here. There are a few hand forged iron pieces I guessing off of farm machinery or horse and buggy parts and lots of other things. If you see something you are curious about then ask me and I’ll get more photos or info and if there is something that you can ID then feel free to share!

I know it was a lot of photos and info but there was just so much (and why it took me so long to post all of it) that I wanted to document as much as I could. Thanks for taking the time to look at all of it and any comments you may have.
To the property owners and their family, I’d like to thank you all once again for the opportunity to come to your house and your offer for me to return for future hunts. I will certainly come see you guys again and Ms J, we can drop a magnet down the old well like we had discussed and see what might be down there! I really look forward to seeing you guys again and getting out to the vineyard as well!

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