top of page


Indian Clays

March 1993

Chief Bowles, or “The Bowl” as he was called, was Chief of the Cherokee Tribe in Northeast Texas whose settlements in Texas were near Nacogdoches. A settlement called “Chief Bowles Tribe” according to the Texas Historical marker just South of Henderson was one of the many sights from this area.

A Mr. E. H. Redding, grandfather to Randy Pope, as a young man around 1920-1930’s plowed his crops in a field where these old Indian mounds were located. Randy’s grandfather picked up many handmade colored Indian Clay marbles and arrow points as he plowed. He kept these for over 75 years. When he died in 1993 these marbles were a part of his estate handed down to Randy.

The Cherokees remained peaceful as long as their friend Sam Houston was president of the Republic. In June 1839 they were ordered from Texas because of raids and intrigues with Mexican Agents. A two-day battle ensued on the Neches River where their chief was killed on the 2nd day of July 1839 in the Ben Wheeler, Texas area. The Cherokee broke ranks and ran. Texas troops followed the fleeting Indians, chasing them most of the distance to Oklahoma; by the famous trail we call “The Cherokee Trace” outside of Gilmer, Texas.

The Indians called these marbles “Mataw” and they were used as a game of chance or gambling. By holding so many in the hand, then letting them fall to the ground, each player had made their bet as to how many marbles would fall. Maybe even what colors. These colors are softened with algae and slime from stagnant water.

The four different colors I have are: Purple, dyed with pokeberry juice; Red with blackberry juice; Blue with Indiago root and perhaps the Green with pokeberry leaves or ferns. The Yellow Tan ones are probably dyed with mustard seed or yellow blooms of the wild plants.

Randy Pope gave these marbles to my friend Keith Wills and Keith gave them to me so I might put them with my collection. Many thanks to both Randy and Keith and Grandpa for saving them this many years.

Virginia Carroll, Gilmer, Texas

P.S. Virginia Carroll passed away in 2003 and I’m sure her wonderful collection of marbles was handed down to one of the family members that will care for them as Virginia did for so many years. We will remember Virginia for the time she took to come to our treasure club over the years and talk to so many of us about marbles she had collected and helped us identify the ones we would find as well.

Keith Wills

My Wife’s First Treasure Hunt

By: Keith Wills

Of course, I had been metal detecting with my father for many years by the time Rebekah and I met and we went on her first treasure hunt. The Fort Worth Club (Cowtown Treasure Hunters) that I’m an honorary member of was having a hunt at an old Ghost and Mining Town of Thurber on Interstate 20 about midway between Fort Worth and Abilene. So we decided this would be the trip to start Rebekah off into the treasure-hunting hobby.

I had been to the Ghost Town several times and it always proved to be a great site for some once in a lifetime finds. I had found some beautiful silver half dimes, seated dimes, Indian head pennies, V nickels, Shield nickels and a lot more. However, what I usually came for was the many different types of tokens the site would give up every time you hunted it. So many different saloon tokens, saw mill tokens, store tokens and a lot of coal tags for the town was a coal-mining town with three nationalities of workers living on the site. So it was always exciting to get permission to get onto the site to hunt.

When Rebekah and I arrived, several folks were already spread out over the hundred acres swinging their detectors. I quickly got Rebekah and I suited up for a day of fun treasure hunting. I gave Rebekah some pointers and sent her in a direction on her own. I started hunting, but knew I better stay fairly close incase she had troubles understanding the detector I gave her to hunt with. Well I made several passes and noticed on the last pass Rebekah was digging in one spot for quit sometime. I came over just as she finally got the object out of the ground. As unbelievable as it was, Rebekah had just dug up a complete Singer Sewing Machine (less the cabinet). It was the complete head of a Singer Sewing machine; the old peddle type my grandmother used before they had electricity. I was amazed and shocked; I have never dug one of those yet myself, can’t sat too many folks have.

I begin to explain to Rebekah that she should be listening for smaller objects like a coin or token. Rebekah took off and walked ten feet only to dig an 1895 Indian Head Cent. At this point I figured there was nothing else to teach her, I didn’t even have a good coin yet myself.

Well, to make a long story short, about an hour had passed and I started looking for Rebekah again. When I found her, she had put up the detector and had a five gallon bucket from my truck that she was loading full of broken colored glass, dishware and pottery that she had found a mound of not far from the truck. Since she does so much crafts at home, it made sense this mound would interest her.

Well I went home with about 6 good tokens, several coal car tags and about three nice seated coins and a few old nickels. I’m sure you guessed that there was an old Singer Sewing machine and several buckets of broken glass and pottery in the back of the truck as well.

Rebekah never really got to interested in treasure hunting to this day, for the treasure in her life is her creativity. She makes beautiful jewelry from beads of all kinds. She has been featured on five national magazine covers and on several television stations for her one-of-a-kind jewelry she makes. She also is contributing editor for Jewelry Crafts magazine, writes many articles, produces several bead shows a year and does many crafts. Even Nieman Marcus stores ask her once to make jewelry for them and she turned them down, for all her jewelry are one-of-a-kind pieces and she does not manufacture jewelry for anyone. To me, she is a smart and creative lady and most definitely the best treasure I have ever found!

Maybe in the next article, I’ll tell you about another trip to Thurber, and about hunting with Darrell Townley (author of several treasure books) and Troy & Linda Galloway owners of the Shadow line of metal detectors. It was a fun trip with a lot of laughs!



Gene Richardson had some great luck on a trip to Jefferson metal detecting recently. His coil happened to swing over this beauty, an 1875-1890 Texas button. What a gem! Way to go Gene!

July 23rd, 2015, one of our members, Joel Barton, happened to be metal detecting at a local park in Kilgore, Texas on Harris Street when he was approached by a young man named, Sean Howell. It seems Mr. Howell was playing at the local park and unfortunately lost his house key in the process. The young Mr. Howell spotted Joel in the park and was brave enough to ask for his assistance in finding his lost house key. Of course, Joel, volunteered to help find the young man's lost house key. After the young lad showed Joel the general location of where it was lost, Joel's metal detector starting going off within a few seconds revealing the location of his lost key. Congratulations to Joel for his successful assistance to a young man in need! Way to go, Joel!

From our President: Recently this April, a local White Oak woman was pushing her son swinging in the backyard. Due to her recent weight loss, her three 14K White Gold/Diamond wedding rings came flying off into the grass. She was able to find two of them but could not find the last one. She borrowed a detector from the school and her husband searched to no avail. A store owner in town who knew I detected gave her my name and number to see if I could help. After calling me, I went over and asked what type of ring it was and about where she lost it. Her husband came out to see if I could find it, being a little skeptical since he couldn’t, while the wife said she felt I could find the ring in less than 30 seconds. I turned on my Garrett AT Pro detector and within 10 seconds got a 54 signal and found her ring. She was most grateful and her husband was a little amazed. It's always good to give back to people and my community. (Great job, Michael!)

bottom of page