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Historians: Area full of finds

April 27, 2011
By Jody Murphy - , Parkersburg News and Sentinel

PARKERSBURG - Nearly 150 years after the Civil War, local historians and amateur archaeologists say the area remains filled with artifacts - if you know where to look.

Many old sites of long-gone Civil War camps and battle sites have been combed over by metal-detecting hunters searching for relics. Other sites have been paved or developed into office buildings, roads and housing developments.

Some have been converted into cemeteries and parks and do not permit artifact hunters.

Article Photos

Terry McVey, left, and Brian Kesterson with a stone carved by a Union soldier stationed at Fort Boreman. They found the stone several years ago while looking for paw paws.

But there are still plenty of undiscovered treasures, local historians Brian Kesterson and Bob Enoch said.

"If you want to do the research and find them, it's out there," Kesterson said.

Kesterson, an author and amateur historian, said with the coming of the Civil War sesquicentennial interest in artifacts is growing. And he expects the search for lost tidbits of the war to continue.

Kesterson is among those who enjoys tracking down old campsites and battlefields looking for relics. And because of that he's reluctant to provide locations of his favorite spots, but he said the sites can be found with a little research.

Kesterson recommended starting at the county courthouse, looking at city maps from the 1860s. He said camps sites were located anywhere from 2 to 5 miles outside the city, not far off the old roads.

Kesterson also said H.L. Matheny's book on the Civil War in Wood County is another good source. Along with the West Virginia State Archives

Camps near Marrtown, the southside Wal-Mart, DeSales Heights and Quincy Hill were all once Civil War camps sites that have either been picked through or developed over, according to Kesterson. There are also the undiscovered sites as well.

Kesterson said there are also records of a skirmish in Parkersburg in 1862, but the site remains undiscovered.

"It's just a little blurb in the official record," he said. "We are unsure of where it was or even what it consisted of."

Last summer, a Walker man unearthed a Civil War medal while tilling the garden near his home.

Enoch, president of the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society, said he's not much for metal detecting.

"I get as much of a thrill going out to an old dump and finding stuff no one has dug into yet."

"With metal detecting, all you find in metal. You probably go over a lot of bottles."

Enoch said new construction sites are also good places to find old items. The Avery Court development, Point Park and newest Bureau of Public Debit building have all produced artifacts. Treasure hunters at Avery Court discovered a slew of medicine bottles from the late 1800s.

Kesterson said Wood County is one of many in the area containing potential sites for artifacts.

"There were campsites in Wirt, Calhoun, Jackson. Confederate and Yankees would sometimes use the same camp over and over."

He recommended finding old picnic grounds, churches and graveyards, particularly those in use prior to 1865.

Kesterson said hunters can find items from practically any time period.

"It is not uncommon to find stone tools, arrowheads or frontier stuff," he said. "The area has a vast amount of fossils, petrified wood, flint mines, a treasure trove of things."



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