CSE 04113 Zann Pistol

Pistols found in the front yard.

It is that time of year when the soil gets turned, be it in the garden or the field and often there are surprises that rise to the surface: arrow heads, Civil War bullets and other amazing artifacts. The story below was published a couple of years ago, but was so much fun it was thought to be worth repeating. Enjoy!

Digging in the dirt is a favorite hobby; it could be for veggies and flowers or the hunt for old stuff. Recently I was treated to the best of all opportunities: a friend was helping with a relatively shallow ditch to bury an electric line when out popped a really old thing! My day was made for sure as I hustled off to the kitchen sink to wash the dirt from the treasure.

There was no question that we had the barrel of a pistol and a portion of the trigger and the materials were wood, metal and what appeared to be plastic. Before I turned on the water spigot I was formulating theories gunfights at the OK Corral.

Carefully rinsing the deteriorated object, I saw what might be a maker’s mark or was it my imagination? The quest might benefit from a bit of searching the same spot with a metal detector, so off I went.

Within minutes I had a hit and started sifting through the dirt and then I spied it. It was another piece of metal that also looked like a gun barrel. Well, I could not get to it fast enough and I called for a different digging tool. Wedging the tool beneath the object, the gentle lifting began. I could not readily see the entire relic and was fearful of leaving a portion in the ground.

Minutes later I was holding not a missing piece from the first pistol, but a different one altogether. Geez, was there really a gunfight in the front yard? Did the antagonists both die of mortal wounds leaving their weapons lying where they fell? The mystery was becoming far too intense!

Back to the kitchen sink with what was clearly a double-barreled pistol with trigger intact. Maybe this one would serve up more information.

There it was: a legible maker’s mark. Armed with what I hoped to be a revealing inscription I turned to the Internet.

Before the cyber world, we must have been content with things never to be learned. Now, I question whether there is ever a case of not knowing if one is willing to spend hours searching. However, I did not have to; I had found the second pistol. It is a Parris 5891 Hex Double Barrel Toy Cap Gun made in Savannah, TN.

Part of the mystery is now solved to my satisfaction. Indeed, there was a gunfight in the front yard and I can only guess that when the opponents were called in for supper, they dropped their weapons in their hurry to wash up and get to the dinner table.

Why the weapons were not retrieved we may never know and your end to that story would be as good a guess as mine. For me, my six shooters were a prized possession and would never be left in the dirt!

Until next week, be well.

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Zann Nelson is an award -winning freelance writer specializing in historical investigations and is currently serving as Director of Montpelier’s African American Descendants’ Project. She can be reached at M16439@aol.com.

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