Local Treasure hunter

AMHERST – Four years ago, Michael Warren’s young son came home to tell him about a cellar hole not far from their Mont Vernon house.

Intrigued, Warren asked permission of the landowner, rented a metal detector and scoured the area.

At first all he found were nails, scrap metal and pieces of barrel bands. Then he uncovered a button, did some research and learned it dated from the mid-1700s.

Warren was hooked. He bought his own metal detector, and has been pursuing his hobby ever since.

Now it is a full-time project dedicated to colonial history.

Warren is president of the Granite State Treasure Hunters Club for Historical Preservation and has spent more than 700 hours sweeping his detector over promising historical areas and many more hours researching his collection of finds.

Last summer, Western & Eastern Treasures Magazine called Warren one of the country’s top hobbyists because of his extensive preparation and the amount of time he devotes to his searches.

On Jan. 12, he spoke to dozens of people at the Amherst Town Library about his ongoing journey into Amherst’s past (and Mont Vernon’s past; Mont Vernon was part of Amherst until 1803).

Without digging far underground, he has found coins, shoe buckles, buttons and other items from the earliest European settlers.

One of the most exciting finds was a silver spoon made from melted colonial coins. Research showed it was made by Amos Doolittle, a silversmith from New Haven, Conn., who served under Benedict Arnold during the Revolutionary War and that it was probably purchased as a dowry item, Warren said.

He also has the first coin issued by the Continental Congress, designed by Benjamin Franklin.

This is a hobby that appeals to a certain kind of personality – one that loves history and has a tremendous amount of patience.

"I am very, very, persistent," he said. "You’ll find a lot of pull-tabs for every" item of value.

There is also extensive preparation involved, finding the right spots to look.

Just learning to read the signals on his metal detector took 100 or more hours.

But there are big rewards that go way beyond the acquisition of items, because the search feeds the imagination and makes history come alive.

For example, in 1741, there were only 14 families in Amherst, descendants of Massachusetts veterans of King Philip’s War who had been promised wilderness land in payment for their services. What were their lives like?

"Imagine this community with 14 families," Warren said. "Imagine how they might have gathered."

Or imagine what life was like in Upper Flanders, the area of town that seems to have the greatest concentration of artifacts.

Just north of the common, Upper Flanders was the center of town for a short while until about 1755.

Warren has found many artifacts concentrated in that area, which extends from the southern end of Mack Hill Road and goes north to Jones Road.

"Makes you wonder what else is going on here," Warren said. "Could it have been a field where people had after-church picnics by the river?"

Later, Amherst became a "shire town," a busy center of court activity for southern New Hampshire, full of lawyers – including Daniel Webster, who gave his first presentation in front of a jury here.

There was also a lot of gambling going on at some point, because many gambling tokens were found.

Warren admits to being obsessive, and that’s a useful trait for a hobby that means spending hours slowly moving through fields and woods, often under a hot summer sun.

During the question-and-answer session that followed his talk, one woman said she had given Warren permission to search her property, calling it a "tremendous experience that allows your house to come alive."

People wanted to know what happens to the found items.

"My goal is for them to find a home in a public institution when I’m gone," he said.

The talk, called "Upper Flanders, the Original Downtown Amherst, N.H.: Discoveries Made and Stories Told by a Metal Detecting Hobbyist," is part of a series for adults about Amherst history.

The library will feature many of Warren’s finds in a display case throughout January.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.

Local Treasure hunter

AMHERST – Four years ago, Michael Warren’s young son came home to tell him about a cellar hole not far from their Mont Vernon house.

Intrigued, Warren asked permission of the landowner, rented a metal detector and scoured the area.

At first all he found were nails, scrap metal and pieces of barrel bands. Then he uncovered a button, did some research and learned it dated from the mid-1700s.

Warren was hooked. He bought his own metal detector, and has been pursuing his hobby ever since.

Now it is a full-time project dedicated to colonial history.

Warren is president of the Granite State Treasure Hunters Club for Historical Preservation and has spent more than 700 hours sweeping his detector over promising historical areas and many more hours researching his collection of finds.

Last summer, Western & Eastern Treasures Magazine called Warren one of the country’s top hobbyists because of his extensive preparation and the amount of time he devotes to his searches.

On Jan. 12, he spoke to dozens of people at the Amherst Town Library about his ongoing journey into Amherst’s past (and Mont Vernon’s past; Mont Vernon was part of Amherst until 1803).

Without digging far underground, he has found coins, shoe buckles, buttons and other items from the earliest European settlers.

One of the most exciting finds was a silver spoon made from melted colonial coins. Research showed it was made by Amos Doolittle, a silversmith from New Haven, Conn., who served under Benedict Arnold during the Revolutionary War and that it was probably purchased as a dowry item, Warren said.

He also has the first coin issued by the Continental Congress, designed by Benjamin Franklin.

This is a hobby that appeals to a certain kind of personality – one that loves history and has a tremendous amount of patience.

"I am very, very, persistent," he said. "You’ll find a lot of pull-tabs for every" item of value.

There is also extensive preparation involved, finding the right spots to look.

Just learning to read the signals on his metal detector took 100 or more hours.

But there are big rewards that go way beyond the acquisition of items, because the search feeds the imagination and makes history come alive.

For example, in 1741, there were only 14 families in Amherst, descendants of Massachusetts veterans of King Philip’s War who had been promised wilderness land in payment for their services. What were their lives like?

"Imagine this community with 14 families," Warren said. "Imagine how they might have gathered."

Or imagine what life was like in Upper Flanders, the area of town that seems to have the greatest concentration of artifacts.

Just north of the common, Upper Flanders was the center of town for a short while until about 1755.

Warren has found many artifacts concentrated in that area, which extends from the southern end of Mack Hill Road and goes north to Jones Road.

"Makes you wonder what else is going on here," Warren said. "Could it have been a field where people had after-church picnics by the river?"

Later, Amherst became a "shire town," a busy center of court activity for southern New Hampshire, full of lawyers – including Daniel Webster, who gave his first presentation in front of a jury here.

There was also a lot of gambling going on at some point, because many gambling tokens were found.

Warren admits to being obsessive, and that’s a useful trait for a hobby that means spending hours slowly moving through fields and woods, often under a hot summer sun.

During the question-and-answer session that followed his talk, one woman said she had given Warren permission to search her property, calling it a "tremendous experience that allows your house to come alive."

People wanted to know what happens to the found items.

"My goal is for them to find a home in a public institution when I’m gone," he said.

The talk, called "Upper Flanders, the Original Downtown Amherst, N.H.: Discoveries Made and Stories Told by a Metal Detecting Hobbyist," is part of a series for adults about Amherst history.

The library will feature many of Warren’s finds in a display case throughout January.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.

Local Treasure hunter

AMHERST – Four years ago, Michael Warren’s young son came home to tell him about a cellar hole not far from their Mont Vernon house.

Intrigued, Warren asked permission of the landowner, rented a metal detector and scoured the area.

At first all he found were nails, scrap metal and pieces of barrel bands. Then he uncovered a button, did some research and learned it dated from the mid-1700s.

Warren was hooked. He bought his own metal detector, and has been pursuing his hobby ever since.

Now it is a full-time project dedicated to colonial history.

Warren is president of the Granite State Treasure Hunters Club for Historical Preservation and has spent more than 700 hours sweeping his detector over promising historical areas and many more hours researching his collection of finds.

Last summer, Western & Eastern Treasures Magazine called Warren one of the country’s top hobbyists because of his extensive preparation and the amount of time he devotes to his searches.

On Jan. 12, he spoke to dozens of people at the Amherst Town Library about his ongoing journey into Amherst’s past (and Mont Vernon’s past; Mont Vernon was part of Amherst until 1803).

Without digging far underground, he has found coins, shoe buckles, buttons and other items from the earliest European settlers.

One of the most exciting finds was a silver spoon made from melted colonial coins. Research showed it was made by Amos Doolittle, a silversmith from New Haven, Conn., who served under Benedict Arnold during the Revolutionary War and that it was probably purchased as a dowry item, Warren said.

He also has the first coin issued by the Continental Congress, designed by Benjamin Franklin.

This is a hobby that appeals to a certain kind of personality – one that loves history and has a tremendous amount of patience.

"I am very, very, persistent," he said. "You’ll find a lot of pull-tabs for every" item of value.

There is also extensive preparation involved, finding the right spots to look.

Just learning to read the signals on his metal detector took 100 or more hours.

But there are big rewards that go way beyond the acquisition of items, because the search feeds the imagination and makes history come alive.

For example, in 1741, there were only 14 families in Amherst, descendants of Massachusetts veterans of King Philip’s War who had been promised wilderness land in payment for their services. What were their lives like?

"Imagine this community with 14 families," Warren said. "Imagine how they might have gathered."

Or imagine what life was like in Upper Flanders, the area of town that seems to have the greatest concentration of artifacts.

Just north of the common, Upper Flanders was the center of town for a short while until about 1755.

Warren has found many artifacts concentrated in that area, which extends from the southern end of Mack Hill Road and goes north to Jones Road.

"Makes you wonder what else is going on here," Warren said. "Could it have been a field where people had after-church picnics by the river?"

Later, Amherst became a "shire town," a busy center of court activity for southern New Hampshire, full of lawyers – including Daniel Webster, who gave his first presentation in front of a jury here.

There was also a lot of gambling going on at some point, because many gambling tokens were found.

Warren admits to being obsessive, and that’s a useful trait for a hobby that means spending hours slowly moving through fields and woods, often under a hot summer sun.

During the question-and-answer session that followed his talk, one woman said she had given Warren permission to search her property, calling it a "tremendous experience that allows your house to come alive."

People wanted to know what happens to the found items.

"My goal is for them to find a home in a public institution when I’m gone," he said.

The talk, called "Upper Flanders, the Original Downtown Amherst, N.H.: Discoveries Made and Stories Told by a Metal Detecting Hobbyist," is part of a series for adults about Amherst history.

The library will feature many of Warren’s finds in a display case throughout January.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.