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Fields of History: Punxsutawney, PA

By: Mick S.


Just fifteen miles north or the famous town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania sits a forgotten town of less than 500 people. As a young boy growing up in this town I had heard hundreds of stories of what used to be. One story that stuck with me was about the Shawnee tribes that called the creek that split this town in half their home. "Every kid in town had a coffee can full of arrowheads" one elder would tell me. Although I gave it many tries I was far short of that incredible number of artifacts. The small farm the bordered town was and still is owned by some wonderful people who were more than happy to point me the direction of my next artifact hot spot. Jumping ahead about twenty years and I happen to see the map maker in the county tax office using map software overlays when he caught my attention. The example he was using came from an 1866 map of this same farm, however this time I saw something unexpected. Three boarding houses from the 1866 map once stood in what was now a cornfield. I anticipated that fall harvest like a child counting down the days until summer vacation starts. That corn no sooner hit the ground when the coil of my AT Pro joined it. First l located the iron. Then the buttons. Then the coins. Over the next two years of metal detecting that field I had found more than sixty buttons, fifteen large cents, an 1853 Seated Liberty quarter, numerous Indian Head Cents, three cent pieces and other desirable items. I was able to pull three Hutchinson bottles from a nearby dump as well as a notable addition of Native American artifacts. I walked that field until I could no longer pay to get a signal. The Covid 19 Pandemic struck the world and like many others it left me doing my job alone with plenty of time on my hands. That allowed me to do more detecting and more local research than ever before. I had finally learned who had owned the boarding houses in that cornfield; Gentlemen named Osborn, Ditty, and Jacox. One day I had been detecting an area of that cornfield that I ignored due to it being part of a farm lane. Several buttons and a large cent resulted from that hunt and the life of my story also began that day. Two Civil War era Riflemen Eagle buttons as well as a three ring bullet were located in that lane and I quickly began to question how they ended up here. There wasn't a battle for hundreds of miles in any direction and the Civil War wasn't ever mentioned in local history lessons. I went back to the notes and research I had been doing and soon found out that two men from this town of less than 500 residents had been sharpshooters in Company C 2nd Regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteers. William and Leroy Jacox. Having discovered that I might have made a direct connection to Civil War Era artifacts to possible owners I of course told everyone who would listen. It's when I told my own mother that I found the best treasure in my hunt. "You know they would be your 4th great uncles, right?", my mother had asked when I told her about the Jacox brothers. My mother is very good at keeping track of our ancestors and soon I was shown my family tree. Right there on my maternal tree was my 4th great grandmother Roxanne Jacox, sister to William and Leroy. I will never know for sure how those buttons ended up in that cornfield. It could have been the town dump or some former soldier staying in the boarding house. I could also be spot on. Regardless, I am the proud owner of Civil War era artifacts and some great family knowledge as a result of this rewarding hobby.

Finds Laid out in a grid-like pattern with coins, bayonet pieces, shards of pottery, brooches, belt buckles and much more all covered in oxidation and dirt laying on white background Image of three ring bullet with Civil War Era buttons laid around it on wood grain background. Lots of coins, some milled, and other finds including horseshoes and keys and bayonet pieces laid out on wooden table. Lots of Finds including several horse shoes and other pieces of metal laid on a wooden background with a large chain on the right side and smaller coins and buckles and pottery shards on the lower half of the image.