Every time David and I plow the gardens, it’s a buried treasure hunt. Since moving to Powder Springs 13 years ago, we have accumulated quite a collection of Indian arrow heads, quartz crystals and antique glass bottles. We have not been fortunate enough to unearth any Civil War relics of yet, but not so long ago, we did stumble upon two very unusual objects of interest to us here at My Dad & Me Family Farm.
The two items found were identical in shape and size and constructed of some type of heavy metal. The medallions formed a perfect oval approximately 1/8 of an inch thick, 3″ long and 2″ inches wide with a 3/8″ hole at one end. Best we could decipher these plates would have hung freely from something perhaps from a chain.
We hurried them over to the hose bib and carefully washed them off. With the years of caked dirt removed, it revealed three numbers stamped into each disc. Our first piece bore the digits 191 and our second piece 222. The cleaning also gave us a clue that the metal was most likely copper or perhaps brass. Further research would be needed. A myriad of questions began racing through our minds.
How old were these pieces? What were the engraved numbers all about? Do they have any intrinsic value? How did they manage to end up here?
We took to the internet for answers, and here is what we discovered. The plates that we found date back to the early days of the 20th century and are forged of solid brass. Their value to a collector that appreciates their historical significance is estimated to be around $10 each. And there are some folks that still use them for their intended purpose.
The obvious question is, “What are they and what is their intended purpose?” Well, I am glad you asked. But before I answer that question, let’s take a look at the history of our area and see if it offers any clues to this mystery.
Back in the early 1900’s, McEachern Farms was a thriving 1,000 acre farm with its pastures encompassing what is now My Dad & Me Family Farm. Dairy cows likely grazed freely over the vast acreage. It was customary for farmers to outfit their milk cows with leather belts around their necks and from that leather belt attach an identifying metal tag.
This enabled the farmer to keep track of his extensive stock with individual numbers. Production stats, health issues, as well as breeding schedules could be easily accessed simply by looking up the cow’s herd number in the farmer’s record book.
The brass tags that David and I discovered are some of those cow identification plates used by McEachern Farms many, many years ago. Since David and I milk Jersey dairy cows for a living, it seems quite coincidental that we found them. Most likely, some lonesome milch cows got their tags caught on something while out grazing, and to their owners dismay, lost them.
The old saying “til the cows come home” seems fitting to this story. For y’all city folks that have not been around cows, this figure of speech means “an endlessly long time.” This is because cows left to themselves will take their own sweet time about coming home in spite of their farmer’s desires.
Can you imagine losing two small metal tags on 1,000 acres. You talk about a needle in a hay stack! Chances are those lost tags weren’t going to be found for a very, very long time!
Well, it has taken more than a half century, but the cows have returned home to McEachern Farm. My Dad & Me Family Farm brought them. And in the process we have uncovered these treasures from the past that were lost, “til the cows come home”.