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You are here: Home Community Lifestyle In search of bounty beneath the ground, these hobby hunters also dig up history

In search of bounty beneath the ground, these hobby hunters also dig up history

History buffs and treasure seekers with metal detectors in Halifax County now have an “informal” club to join. 

Terry Bram of South Boston is president of the Halifax Coin and Relic Club. 

He has been involved in metal detecting for many years and says he has always been interested in history. 

Prior to becoming club president, Bram resided in Virginia Beach where he was part of a similar club whose members spent some of their time assisting the Virginia Beach Police Department. 

 “Sometimes they would call us, and we would hunt down evidence,” said Bram.  

Since returning to Halifax, Bram has enjoyed spending time with his members venturing out into the community to see what artifacts they can detect and dig up before researching to see which part it played in history. 

Metal detectors used range anywhere from $200 to $2,000. 

“For example, we’ll come across this [a bullet], did it hit a rock or did it hit a soldier? What happened to him? Did he survive?” Bram said.

Some local areas where they’ve found items include Main Street, Fenton Street, Virgilina and Roxboro, NC.  

Members include Club Vice President Bill Quackenbush, Noel Bowling, Billy Deal, Carl Thompson and Tom Hundley.  

“For me, it’s all about finding something, taking it home to clean it up and then researching to find as much about it as I can,” said Quackenbush. “You can really find some interesting treasures.”

Bram said, “The purpose of the club is to give you a chance to hunt with somebody and make the hobby more exciting.  Members provide information about equipment and give tips on hunting.” 

The group has found too many items to count in the past four years when they first formed. 

Their collection includes items such as a 1940 Tim Daly ring, which is a superman collection ring for children, a model of a Derringer pistol, buffalo nickels, wheat pennies and Spanish coins.  

They also have found an Olympic medal, dog tags — one dating back to 1973, and a 1993 class ring from Halifax County High School with the name “Jennifer” visible. 

These artifacts not only have given the men a sense of history but also have provided some stories they’ll never forget. 

Earlier this year Quackenbush said he received a call from his neighbor, Margaret Glass, who had lost her wedding ring. 

“She was in a bit of a panic,” he said.  

After 62 years of marriage, Quackenbush said it seemed like the loss of the ring was breaking her heart. Knowing that metal detecting was his hobby of choice, Glass asked him to search for it. 

“Not 10 minutes into the search, I walked into Margaret’s home and told her that I had found several interesting items, including a very shiny gold wedding ring,” said Quackenbush. 

“She and her husband were extremely excited and emotional, while I was blessed with a feeling of tremendous satisfaction in the knowledge that my metal detecting hobby had allowed me to bring great joy to a friend and neighbor.  It is a perfect example of the true spirit of the hobby.” 

Bram and Quackenbush both shared stories of finding items that included initials or names that they either returned to the owner or attempted to return. 

“Any time we think we know who the owner is we attempt to return it,” said Bram, “It’s nice to see the smiles on their faces.”  

Each member of the club also follows the ethics of the Federation of Metal Detector and Archaeological Club Inc.  

Ultimately, they use the mindset of “treat the property as if it were my own.” 

To protect the integrity of the land, the two members said they try to dig only as much as necessary, all the dirt is kept in a plastic bag to be returned to fill the hole, and any trash that can be carried is picked up. 

“And permission is always requested beforehand,” said Bram. 

“If someone does not want us to dig on their property, I tell the men to say thank you very much and go on about their business.” 

Both men pointed out there usually isn’t much opposition to the digging. 

All who are interested in joining the club are welcome. The group meets on the second Tuesday of every other month at Roma’s restaurant at 6:30 p.m. to share their findings or to discuss where to dig next.  

“If membership increases, we would like to increase the meetings to once a month,” said Bram. 

Those interested in more information may call Bram at 434-572-8447.