Buried Treasure at Adams Farm

Buried Treasure at Adams Farm

Bet you never imagined there was buried treasure at Adams Farm, just waiting to be found. Well, Jim Meaney, FOAF member and treasure hunting aficionado, has! A retired engineer, Jim has been involved in treasure hunting as a hobby for over 30 years. He’s currently the librarian for the Massachusetts Treasure Hunting Association, a group of hobby metal detector enthusiasts based in Newton Highlands, some of whom come from as far away as Cape Cod and New Hampshire to attend monthly meetings.

One of Jim’s finds at the Farm – a colonial or early 19th century “flat button”

Earlier this year Jim got permission from the Adams Farm Committee to explore the property with his metal detector, hoping to unearth some relics of the Farm’s past. Possible finds on old farm properties include metal farm implements, tools, old decorative buttons (see photo), belt and shoe buckles from colonial days to post-Civil War, coins, and musket balls.

Working for several hours, Jim searched the field on the south side of the driveway and discovered a lot of modern trash and rusted iron hardware, as well as a few modern coins. One item of real interest that he turned up was an old lead baling/bag seal (see photo). These seals were used for goods that were sold in bags like flour or seed. The filled bags were cinched closed with wires and sealed with a lead disc crimped with the company seal to guarantee the quantity in the bag.

A lead “baling” or “bag” seal

Treasure hunting requires only minimal equipment – a metal detector, a narrow shovel or trowel with a pointed metal tip, a small ground cloth for dug-up soil, and a carpenter’s apron with pockets to sort found items. Jim also wears roofer’s knee protectors since he spends a lot of time on his hands and knees, and gloves to protect his hands when sifting through the soil.

Using his metal detector to locate an item underground, Jim digs up a soil sample by making a horseshoe-shaped cut in the ground about 3 to 4 inches wide with a hinge of soil at the top. After carefully lifting up the soil, he passes the metal detector over the area again to determine whether the item is in the soil sample or in the hole. Once he’s found an item, he rechecks the hole again for more items until it’s empty. Then he returns the soil to the hole, topping it off with the hinged piece, leaving behind only minimal traces of his activities.

The best places to find things are places where people congregated like fairgrounds, sports fields, beaches, and the sites of religious revivals. Jim always does research on the properties he’s interested in exploring before actually visiting them. It’s important to be aware of local regulations and get permission of the property owner before beginning the search.

One of Jim’s most gratifying finds occurred a few years ago when he recovered a lost wedding ring from a bag of leaves for a woman in West Roxbury who’d been out doing yard work and realized afterwards that her ring was missing. Jim also assisted with the return of a 75th Anniversary Battle of Gettysburg Attendant’s Badge from 1938 that was found in Wakefield, MA, by a fellow treasure hunter. Combining his interests in research and genealogy, Jim was able to identify a Civil War veteran from the Boston area with the same last name as the one on the attendant’s badge. It turned out that the attendant was the Civil War veteran’s grandson. More research led to the grandson’s closest living relative, his first cousin, once removed, living in Georgia to whom they returned the badge.

If you need help locating a lost item or would like to learn more about treasure hunting, you can contact Jim at jpmeaney@comcast.net.

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