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Culpeper Times • July 12-18, 2018
HISTORY The Discovery Bug ZANN’S PLACE Zann Nelson
The guides at Jamestown would be still be telling us that the original fort lies beneath the James River. A dozen or so years ago a portion of the original fort was discovered lying beneath the statue of Captain John Smith. Incredible findings have been revealed and history is literally being rewritten. I placed my quest for discovery on a dark shelf in the pantry on the back porch and pursued more important aspects of life: making a living, raising children and managing a household. But every now and then I would pull that quest for discovery off the shelf and attempt to infect my children. My son Nathan was not yet steady on his feet when I took him on his first house hunt. His older sister, Jessica, already had the affliction and helped me strap her brother into a backpack. It was the first of many adventures the three of us would share. Metal detecting is another love. The truth is, I am not very good at that either, but it is wonderful fun. The children
I once dreamed of being an archaeologist. This was long before the tales of Indiana Jones; nonetheless I pictured myself discovering lost cities, ancient ruins and secret treasures buried within dense jungles or beneath
shifting sands. My brief foray as a volunteer on a local dig convinced me that this line of work required far more patience than I was willing to commit. The idea of spending weeks, months, sometimes years with a spoon scratching at a tiny square in hopes of finding a microscopic piece of charred dirt was beyond me. More power to those with the talents I do not possess. They have my complete admiration and gratitude. If it were not for the archaeologists, history, as we know it would not be, as we know it!
would put up with hours of digging nails, pop-tops and other miscellaneous scrap for the anticipation of something grand. We had our share of significant finds, but keep in mind that significance is relative. After hours of digging junk, finding an old iron trunk lock was a really big hit. For hours it would be a source of speculation; how old was it, who used it and what were they locking away? The quest would ultimately be returned to the shelf beside the accumulating boxes and bags of “artifacts.” We weren’t sure what many of the items were so we threw nothing away. Sometimes, we would get them out again in hopes of figuring out what we had found. And so it went. However, what once was a hobby became a mission. As the case with many discoveries, it isn’t that they were never known but that they have been misplaced or lost to history due to insufficient records. It may be more accurate to define what I do as rediscovery with the added elements of documentation and publication. Documentation will prevent future loss or misplacement, even if destroyed. Publication serves as another form of
recordation and has the added benefit of reaching those who may hold more information. They may be unaware that they possess missing pieces to a fascinating puzzle. Publication fosters vital communication. Before you can find the answers, you must first acknowledge the questions. Once a set of questions is established the investigator is hooked. Of the many types of addictions available to us these days, this one is a keeper. It is cheap, healthy, productive, and can be implemented by one or many. Recently my oldest granddaughter, Marley, experienced her first house hunting. We explored two houses, both believed to be more than 150 years old; before we were done, she was teaching her mother about recognizing chimney ghosts. Perhaps she will be the next great explorer. Until next week, be well. Zann Nelson is a researcher specializing in historical investigations, public speaker and award -winning freelance writer and columnist. She can be reached through the Culpeper Times, at M16439@aol.com or www.facebook.com/ZannsPlace.
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