Here's an article that my wife wrote for a magazine.
By Elizabeth McFadden
Who knew that rusted old stuff is treasure and not trash? Who knew that guys in camouflage tromped through the
countryside armed with metal detectors and shovels? Who knew history could be so interesting? Most shockingly -
who knew Sherman was a great general and someone to be admired? Clyde McFadden, a.k.a. Carolina Clyde, knew. I,
however, was absolutely clueless until I met and married him. Formerly my only experience with history was in dull
classes with professors droning on about dates and battles and dry old generals who seemed like one-dimensional
cardboard cut-outs. Now, thanks to Clyde, history is alive with interesting characters and as tangible as the old bullets
and buttons that I can hold in my hand.
His father, Buster McFadden, lit the spark that kindled Clyde’s inborn appetite for history. Buster had a keen interest in
history and relished hunting for Indian arrowheads and the rusted, discarded iron implements he found lying on the
ground. When Clyde was just a little boy, Buster took him along to hunt for arrowheads. Developing an eye for
discerning the chips and arrowheads from the surrounding rocks, Clyde learned to love finding arrowheads. He still
remembers his first relic, a broken arrowhead. And he also still remembers how good it felt when his father praised him
for that first find. Buster McFadden passed away a few years ago but his influence on Clyde remains strong. In addition
to his love for history, Buster provided Clyde with a solid example of how to live a life of integrity. Clyde is grateful to his
father for instilling in him the love of history and the foundation for living a wholesome life. He still misses him deeply.
If you ever meet Clyde, you will find in the first few minutes that he has a deep appreciation of history. If you dig deeper,
you will find even more (pun intended) – a lifetime of learning and experience. He grew up in a time when he had access
to the people who still remembered the old stories. He grew up in a place where he had access to all the places in those
old stories. The time was the 1960’s and the place was in rural Fairfield County, South Carolina.
His father managed the sharecroppers and the forestry business in the area near their home. When the sharecroppers
spun their yarns Clyde was spellbound. He soaked up the stories passed down from generation to generation about the
American Revolution and “The War of Northern Aggression.” What young boy wouldn’t be tantalized by tales of pots of
gold buried in secret places to outsmart the British and Yankee armies? Throughout the years he has searched for and
found many of the places from the old stories – an Indian trading post dating back to the early 1700’s, a Spanish/Indian
fort on the banks of the Wateree river, and an old plantation with slave whipping posts fashioned from stone. And
although he has not found a gold cache himself, he has verified that a survey crew in the 1900’s did indeed find a cache
of gold buried in an old black pot right behind the house where he grew up.
Clyde has not given up looking for a pot of gold and he has been looking for quite some time now. He started when he
was about fourteen years old with his first metal detector, a Radio Shack model. He had his sights set on the gold and
silver lost by the early settlers and plantation owners. Hunting the old plantation sites burned by Sherman’s invading
army, he found lots of old brass, bullets, and buttons – pretty good finds by any standard much less a fourteen-year-old
with a Radio Shack detector. The problem was (ahem) he would just toss those old bullets and buttons (probably
hundreds of them) over his shoulder and keep looking for coins. Eventually he did start to bring home some of the neat
old bullets and buttons, but he confesses that it was due more to being tired of coming home empty-handed than due to
any realization of the historical significance of the finds.
While honing his skills finding sites and swinging that Radio Shack detector, he was completely on his own and totally
self-taught. During that time someone once asked him if he was a treasure hunter. He says he told them “No, I’m not
sure what you’d call it but it’s certainly not treasure.” That was a bit of a fib but he did not realize it at the time. He had not
yet seen, nor heard of, nor met anyone else who metal detected. That did not change until a few years later.
One day at a mall in Columbia, he entered a book store to browse through the history section. Strolling by the magazine
racks something caught his eye. He stood for a moment in stunned disbelief. There, on the shelf, was a magazine
devoted to people who metal detect. He could not believe it. Until then, he did not know that this was a bona fide hobby.
He did not know there were other people who shared his passion for digging. He bought the magazine and read it cover
to cover and over and over until dog-eared and worn, it finally disintegrated.
After that epiphany he began a quest in earnest to seek out and connect with other relic hunters. He learned that there
was a metal detector dealer in Columbia, SC, named Leo Redmond. Eagerly anticipating getting a better machine and
actually talking with someone else who was also a relic hunter, he walked into Leo’s shop for the first time. What a sight
that was – display cases filled with buttons, bullets and relics of all sorts. What a disappointment it was when he realized
that he could not afford any of the detectors in the shop. Leo, being the good guy that he is, gave Clyde a lead on a used
Fisher 1260. Clyde, being the good bargainer that he is, was able to work a deal to buy the used 1260. Clyde and Leo are
still good friends today.
After upgrading to the Fisher 1260, Clyde increased both the quality and the quantity of his finds. He found his first belt
plate, his first revolutionary war cannon ball, and his first confederate button. (Well, maybe it was his first confederate
button. He may have thrown any number of them over his shoulder as a boy - ouch). Still not recognizing that there was
any other value to the relics than the one he cherishes most – their historical value – he donated most of those finds to
museums whose collections were sparse. One of his cousins who is a re-enactor still has that first confederate belt plate.
Over the years his understanding grew as he interacted with guys who were digging in South Carolina. He learned that
the practitioners of the art more often call it relic hunting rather than metal detecting. He was delighted to find that the
majority of relic hunters are the most genuine, down-to-earth people you will ever meet. He was disappointed to
encounter a few guys who would sneak back to hunt out the sites he shared with them. He was lucky to befriend one of
the most knowledgeable fellows he has ever met - his Jamaican hunting buddy, Arthur Cox. Arthur can most accurately
be described as a metal detector geek and having access to Arthur’s expertise over the past twenty years has been
The internet boon really opened doors to the world of relic hunting. “Googling” for information yields more detailed
information about products, services, and fellow hunters than could ever be contained in the pages of that first
magazine he stumbled upon. One of his best finds on the internet is the Treasure Depot. In 2001 he attended his first
organized hunt sponsored by the Depot and has been attending them ever since. If you are interested in good finds and
forming lifelong friendships with fellow hunters, Clyde recommends signing up for these hunts. The hunts are also a
wholesome way to bond with your children. He is particularly grateful that relic hunting and attending the Treasure
Depot hunts has brought him closer to his oldest son, J.C.
Given his penchant for the people involved and the hobby itself, it was a natural progression for him to become a dealer.
In 2006 he started Relic Hunter Supply (relichuntersupply.com) and draws personal satisfaction from everything about
the business – the customers, the suppliers, the manufacturers, and other dealers as well.
Thank you for taking the time to read Carolina Clyde’s personal story. In closing, I would like to share with you some of
the basics he has learned thus far. He is still learning and would welcome the opportunity to learn from your insight and
Through trial and error and hours and hours in the field, Clyde has learned that to be a successful relic hunter you must:
Develop a love and appreciation of history.
Successful relic hunting requires the commitment to spending a great deal of time and energy. The desire required for
making and keeping that commitment springs from the love of history. If you do not have a passion for history, you will
not have the staying power required to find it and dig it up.
Do your research.
Supplement publications like books and magazines with soldiers’ diaries, slave narratives, old maps, and military
records. Know the local geography of your hunt areas, particularly old road beds and waterways. Seek out and
interview local residents, the older the better, as there is much information to be learned that was never published. Be
aware that the written historical record can be inaccurate. To discern the real facts, compare and contrast historical
records one with the other and with the anecdotal information you have gathered from local residents.
Buy the right equipment and learn to use it properly.
Work with your dealer and fellow hunters to determine the best machine for your situation. Know the ground properties
of the soil in the areas you hunt most and how the detector you are purchasing performs in that type of soil. Once you
have purchased a machine, take the time to learn it thoroughly. Before setting out to hunt, become fluent with your
machine’s settings by burying known targets in different types of soil and practicing listening for them.
Get permission to hunt.
Aside from the fact that you could go to jail if you do not, it is good for the hobby. Finding good sites is already
challenging enough without the negative consequences a few unscrupulous hunters can create for everyone else.
Avoid giving the hobby a bad reputation. Do not succumb to the temptation of trespassing on private property.
Prepare mentally and physically before you hunt.
Concentration is the key to successful hunting and mental or physical distractions can mean the difference between
coming home with good finds or empty pockets. Decide to ignore worries about problems at work or at home during the
hunt. Focus your mind on the task at hand. Ensure that you have an ample supply of insect spray, snacks, water, and
extra batteries. Wear comfortable clothing and dress for the weather. If you are in an area with venomous snakes, wear
snake chaps or snake boots. Minimizing mental and physical distractions is a key way to achieve focus and
CarolinaClyde on the forums. I live at Lake Wateree, South Carolina
(just north of Columbia.) I have a wonderful wife named Beth. She
gives me her support when it comes to relic hunting.
I have been a relic hunter ever since I could walk, following my father
through the fields hunting for Indian arrowheads as a boy. I got my
first metal detector when I was about ten years old. It was a radio
shack model, but I did manage to find a few things with it. I have been
in the woods ever since digging holes and making recoveries. I have
tried and owned just about every brand of detector that has ever been
made. I feel really connected with history when I can research a site
and then go out and dig a relic associated with my research. I am a
member of the Palmetto Relic Hunters Club in Columbia, SC.
My mission here is to give you the very best relic hunting equipment at
the very best price possible. All of my items are tried and true for relic
hunting. If you need something that you don’t see here, please use the
contact button below or email us and we’ll get it for you! There are new
and exciting items in the works that we will be carrying in the near
future. I look forward to earning your business and thanks so much for
visiting our site!!
Email Address Clyde@RelicHunterSupply.com
Phone: (803) 427-5464