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Stewart discovers find of a lifetime

Local resident Patrick Stewart, recently found his biggest find yet on a trip to South Carolina. Stewart, who has done metal detecting since 2008, discovered a Washington Inaugural flat button. Stewart says finding the button was like finding a needle in a haystack. However, he did not do it alone. Stewart discovered the button on Saturday, January 14. On Wednesday, January 11, Stewart’s longtime friend David Kilgore had passed away. To Stewart, Kilgore was more than just a friend, he was also the person who initially got him into searching for historical artifacts through metal detecting. Stewart explained that one day Kilgore came into Big C, and as they were talking about history Kilgore asked him if he was interested in metal detecting for Civil War artifacts. Kilgore let Stewart borrow his metal detector and they went on a hunt. He said Kilgore taught him how to use the metal detector and taught him the proper way to dig the ground and proper etiquette on hunting for artifacts. Over time, Kilgore also taught him how to look for civil war camps, wagon trails and other things. Kilgore actually drew a map for Stewart, he used that map the first time he took his children, and his daughter, Chloe, found her first piece of treasure.

Kilgore told Stewart, the Friday prior to his death, that he wanted to go hunting with him again soon. Stewart says, “And he did. There’s no doubt he was with me that day.” He further stated, “I’ve always loved history. I can remember being young, walking through fields and looking for arrow heads. Kilgore rekindled that love for me. In collecting historical artifacts, especially letters written by soldiers, it’s amazing to read how 100 percent of them talk about their love for Jesus and missing their families. These were 17-18 year old boys, away from home fighting wars, seeing death and destruction. The last thing Kilgore said to me was that he wanted to go help me find bullets to build crosses, as he walked out the door pretending he was metal detecting, with a smile.” Stewart said another special aspect to his find is that he spent his summers with his grandparent’s approximately 20 miles from where he found the button, in Due West, South Carolina. He said as they were driving to the hunt, he drove through the town where his grandparents lived, and drove back there to have his picture taken with the flat button.

Stewart says that the South Carolina Dirt Diggers Association had hosted the hunt he attended, just south of Shappells, South Carolina. The land owner knew there was an old town on his 5,000 acres, which included an old gristmill. None of the history was written. Stewart says he researched for two months about the history of the revolutionary war in the area where the hunt was hosted. Stewart said on the first day, they searched for the gristmill and the old home site. The second day, Stewart says they found the gristmill, after hiking in close to five miles. He further explained that he and a friend were hunting, after taking a break, and trying to imagine what the property looked like in the 1700’s. Stewart stood back up to hunt. He says that he didn’t walk more than ten feet when he received a good signal with his metal detector. When he picked up a dirt clot, he noticed a green wad in the clot. Stewart said he immediately knew he had found a flat button, but had no clue exactly what he had. Stewart continued hunting the entire day, carrying the button in his pocket. Later in the day, Stewart says the Association held a raffle. As they were standing around, a newcomer asked to see the button. As he began to clean the button off, he noticed the letters “INGTON,” Stewart says that he honestly thought the man was just messing with him. He said the man told him, there should be an Eagle on the bottom, and identified it immediately as a Washington Inaugural Button. Stewart said people immediately flocked to the area where he was standing. Stewart said they knew the Colonial Revolutionary War had been through there, but never dreamed that they would find such a treasure.

Stewart says he loves this hobby because people who are interested are constantly passing down the history to new comers. For now, Stewart says his button will remain locked in a lock box at the bank. Eventually, he hopes to use it to teach children about the history of the United States.


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