Thursday, February 23, 2017

2/23/17 Report - Research Tips For Locating Good Old Sites. Stuff Found In Walls. Increasing Surf.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exlcusive use of

I was looking back at some old posts and noticed some that I think should be posted again.  I forgot about them and suspect many other readers did too.  Newer blog readers probably never read them.  I will post some of those that I think are worth rereading even if you might have read them years ago.

James F. consistently submitted pictures of great old finds.  He made fantastic finds while many others were complaining that there were no good places left to hunt.  I asked James if he would give some tips on how to conduct research that leads to the kind of  finds that he was always making.  

One of the things he said is that although the internet helps, the overwhelming majority of historical information, .maps, narratives, and photographs still exist only in hardcopy form.  I suspect that is still true today but perhaps to a lesser extent.

Here is  what James said.

The first thing I did to locate the steamboat artifact was a quick on-line search looking for generalities like major areas of steamboat activity in Florida. On-line sources indicated the St. Johns River (which flows northward, by the way) and the chain of lakes it includes (Lake Jesup, Mullet Lake, Lake Monroe, Lake Poinsett, et al) where almost teeming with steamboat traffic for almost 80 years ago, all the way from Jacksonville to Rockledge (Cocoa Beach) Florida. With this general data, I went to my local library and specifically searched for information about 19th century steamboat activity within my region...Sanford, Geneva, Oveido, Lake Mary etc. I then looked for historic facts specifically targeting those town's level of involvement with steamboat operations; Fruit and vegetable shipments, cargo and passenger operations, Seminole and Civil War materials and troops movements by steamboat, etc. It is all readily publicly available information using a few keywords like steamboat, shipping and check the index in the back of hardcover books. Once I identified the towns involved, I narrowed the focus down even further, by selecting a specific town or area to hunt.

One of my favorite sources of research material in this regard is best obtained from small local museums or historical societies. Many of these little (or not so little) organizations have some very specific resources available to you, you cannot find anywhere else; self-published books on the local area, old maps on display, people who can tell you, through family history, of certain things or places not found in a book. It was from a couple of these organizations I discovered information regarding several close-by areas where steamboat traffic and operations were very prevalent in the mid-19th Century. Using this information...old maps, photographs, drawings and other facts, I managed to piece together a promising site. A quick look on-line of aerial map views through either Google or Bing Bird's Eye (I like Bing best for this sort of search as it has very, very clear aerials that get within 25 feet of the ground) will yield current information about the site before your actual recon of the physical place. This gives you site coordinates that you will use to navigate to the location; nearby roads, landmarks and GPS information, etc.

From there, I find the online website of the local tax assessor and locate the property plat, which also gets me the name and address (sometimes even the phone number) of the owner. Again, all publicly available information. I then make a cursory visit to the site, and if it looks searchable (i.e. not swampy or too snake infested) I'll call or visit the owner and try to get permission. I always offer something in return: a free 2-hour metal detection search anytime in the future if they or someone they know loses a valuable item, or I ask if they would like to accompany me while I hunt and have their pick of the items recovered. It is their land. If you have any people skills at all, you should be able to get on site, and maybe even an invitation to come back by the landowner. That's it in a nutshell...remember to look out for snakes!

There it is. Some great tips that work. Thanks again James!

Let me repeat and summarize a few of the main points.

1. Do a preliminary search to become more familiar with the topic, identify important key words that can lead to other resources, and iteratively refine your search.

2. Check with local museums and historical societies.

3. Talk to people who may have personal knowledge.

4. Use the internet but go beyond that.

Your research will become more productive as you accumulate a depth of knowledge and variety resources on specific locales and topics.


Once you start digging — whether excavating long-populated urban land for a commercial project or tearing down the walls of a house — you never know what you’ll find. It might be a ritual object placed there to ward off evil spirits 300 years ago, or a few decades ago. It might have been put there on purpose or left by accident. Unless it’s a time capsule with a note enclosed, you’ll never know for sure.
Every building carries history within its walls, ceilings, floors and foundations. The very wood, plaster and stone can contain powerful secrets, even talismans, some of which were placed there for future inhabitants to find — a thread linking past and future...
That is the beginning of an interesting article.

Here is the link for the rest of the article.

Thanks to Doug for the link.


Today the surf was something like 2 - 4 feet.  Expect 4 - 6 feet tomorrow.  I'd like to see the beaches get stirred up.  Unfortunately the tides won't be high.

Happy hunting,