Passion, Care, and Integrity
North Carolina relic hunter Robert Braswell, Jr. wanted to dig Civil War relics and was determined to do it properly by first obtaining landowner permission and by leaving the disrupted ground as if no one had ever been there. Early in his life, he was guided by his father and best friend, Robert Braswell Sr., to do just that. In the early 1980s his father bought two Nautilus Silver King metal detectors which were designed more for detecting coins than Civil War relics. Prior to Robert Jr’s serious Civil War relic detecting days, he and his father hunted for bottles, arrowheads, and coins. His father had more interest in coins than Civil War relics, so it was the yards of old home sites and churchyards that they did their digging and always, with permission. With a bricklayer's trowel and paper plates, Robert Jr. was taught to carefully remove the turf that it could be placed upon the paper plate, preserving its shape and residual soil. Once the metal treasure was recovered, the turf and soil could easily be placed back in the hole leaving the ground with the appearance of being undisturbed.
What led Robert to Civil War relic hunting was partially due to the fact that his father’s family was from Jackson, NC., the site of the Battle of Boon's (or Boone's) Mill Pond. His Great, Great Grandfather Wilson Braswell, and his brother Henry, enlisted in June of 1861 into the 1st North Carolina Cavalry in Rich Square in the town of Jackson. Wilson Braswell was wounded July 3rd, 1863 in Gettysburg, PA. Robert also had another Great, Great Grandfather Emery A. Vaughan in the 2nd North Carolina Cavalry. Clearly Civil War history was in his DNA, literally.
Robert and his father continuously hunted coins and relics until about 1988 when he decided to shift gears into serious fishing. Over the next 10 years he entered numerous Bass tournaments all over the states of NC and VA, taking a break from relic hunting. During this time however, he never lost the passion for detecting that he and his father shared. In 1999 he put down his fishing pole and he picked up his detector once again. Sadly, in 2000 his father was diagnosed with cancer and passed away. As one might expect, Robert was heartbroken and very depressed. To help keep his mind off the loss of his father, Robert went relic hunting when he could, but this time without his hunting buddy. Hunting alone was a new concept to Robert and certainly not what he had been accustomed to. On one of his precious days off from his work at the local paper mill, Robert went to look for relics in an area near Petersburg where he had permission to hunt. While he was hunting he was approached by a fellow who advised Robert that the property was no longer available for relic hunting and instructed him to leave. At that point, Robert didn’t quite know what to do as this was the only place he knew he could hunt. Alone and somewhat aimless he left the area and drove down one of the country roads adjacent to property he had always wanted to hunt, but never had permission to do so. At about that moment, he came upon a home where in the yard was an older fellow sipping on a can of Budweiser. Robert pulled up and introduced himself to a friendly fellow named Fred. After some casual conversation, he asked permission to look for Civil War relics in the woods behind his house. Robert assured Fred that all holes would be filled in he would check in once he was done. Fred agreed to let him hunt and off Robert went. Robert was excited to find various Federal Civil War relics behind the home and even more excited to have made a new friend. Robert made several trips back to Fred’s property to relic hunt, each time quietly checking in by leaving a 12 pack of Budweiser at Fred’s door, just to let Fred know that he was there. Eventually, Fred picked up a detector and began hunting with Robert. Fred introduced Robert to his friend Bill, who also detected, and the three of them formed a great friendship. They received permission to hunt multiple locations in the Petersburg/Dinwiddie area recovering many, many relics. Interestingly, they were only recovering Federal relics.
The association with these two men was very important to Robert as he now had trusted buddies to hunt with. While they would never replace the buddy he started with, they did help fill the void that Robert had experienced and, at this point in his life, he could not have been happier.
Where were the Confederates relics?
Robert had received permission to hunt a North Carolina site which was producing primarily Confederate Civil War relics where he would take Fred and Bill. This proved to be an excellent arrangement of three friends recovering not only Union relics in Virginia but also now recovering Confederate relics in North Carolina. Robert felt very good about being able to share this relic spot with his buddies who had shared so much with him.
Time moves on, as do friends.
By 2013, both Bill and Fred had passed away from cancer. Robert, feeling the pain of losing his relic hunting buddies, decided it was time to let his passion go and hung up his detector for the final time.
Over a 30+ year period, Robert amassed quite a collection of relics which, in 2018, he decided to part with. The one thing he stressed was that he wanted his relics to be passed along to others that shared his same passion and care for the history that they represent.
Many of these relics will be listed on this website.