"Treasure Fever"

The Daily Times, Sat. Sept. 24, 2005, p. 11

By Brice Stump

SALISBURY - Silver pieces of eight, gold coins, rings, silver coins, watches, jewelry and unusual artifacts from the 17th century to the present are just some of the goodies being routinely found by treasure hunters on Delmarva.

There's plenty to be found, said Andy Nunez, author of "Treasures Of The Eastern Shore," a how-to book that tells where to look and the stories behind some of the discoveries made over the years.

The 106-page book of text and pictures details the discoveries made by Nunez and others using metal detectors.

Metal detecting enthusiasts have even helped police find bullets at a crime scene. Bill Draper, of the Shore Seekers Artifact and Recovery Club, once found a gold and diamond ring for Eddie "Hot Shot" Mayo who played for the Detroit Tigers and helped them win the 1945 World Series. He lost the World Series Championship ring four years before asking for help at his then home in Ocean Pines.

Treasure sites

There are thousands of coins and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of treasure on display at DiscoverSea Museum in Fenwick Island, found by treasure hunter, Dale Clifton. From copper coins to yards and yards of heavy gold chain, bullion, gold and silver coins and even emeralds - and much of it found locally - discovered by Clifton, are on display.

There's Coin Beach, a legendary site near Indian River Inlet that's long been a favorite with collectors and metal detector fans for the thousands of coins that have washed, and are still being washed ashore, from the Faithful Steward, a ship that sank in 1785.

Nunez and others have found coins at the site of the Great Pocomoke Fair in Pocomoke City, at church yards, school yards, fairgrounds and the site of old houses and commercial buildings. There have been early 18th century buttons found and lead bullets from the 18th century and from the Civil War years, like those found around the site of a school in Pungoteague. Nunez and club members have found copper and silver coins at the site of an old hotel in Mardela Springs. Just about any place people congregated can be a potential gold mine.

Nunez's book contains the teasing tale of pirate treasure to be found, owned by none other than the infamous pirate Blackbeard. Nunez said the pirate may have been ambushed between Watts and Tangier islands and that a chest of his treasure was buried somewhere in the area.

When the 18th-century pirate Charles Wilson was captured by the British, he wrote a letter to his brother revealing the location of his buried treasure - said to be worth more than $10 million - hidden somewhere between Chincoteague and Ocean City. Nunez and the club searched in vain for even a telltale coin, and found none, but the promise of finding the treasure hasn't lost its allure.

Even Greenbrier Swamp in Dorchester County, near the former home of famous slave and "underground conductor," Harriet Tubman, holds the lore of undiscovered riches. Here the hoard is guarded by supernatural forces. It is one of the oldest tales on the Shore, and captivates the curious and daring.

Near Reliance that borders the Maryland-Delaware line, Nunez relates the tale of two farmhands who discovered a cache of coins in a field near the Patty Cannon House, who sold their ill-gotten find for $12,000.

In "Treasures Of the Eastern Shore," stories abound with places to look for, and find, treasures of the past. Books are available through Barnes and Noble and Henrietta's Attic in Salisbury, Alice's Bookship in Snow Hill, Never On Tuesday in Cambridge, DiscoverSea Museum in Fenwick Island, Mason's New and Used Books in Ocean City and Atlantic Collectibles near Assateague.

The book retails for $19.95.