Chas’s Place – Metal Detecting 1881 Homestead

This is not a story but a true event, an event that involves a real witch doctor and spirits of the dead.  Let me start from the beginning. I am not someone who believes in ghosts and goblins, but with my Christian belief and upbringing, I firmly believe in demons and angels and the afterlife, so the following situation I was in made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

What I am about to tell you all started a year before I ever picked up a metal detector. I am an avid bowhunter and have been since I was 12 years old. This particular year deer hunting was slow, and I knew I had to find a new area to hunt, away from all of my traditional hunting spots near deer camp. I got in my truck and drove a few miles down the road until I came to a forest service road that was gated and closed to vehicles. I parked my truck and went exploring. I came across a really old meadow with crab apple trees, deer love apples, and I saw deer tracks, so I got excited and planned on coming back for an evening hunt.  Before heading back to my truck, I noticed a strange rock not too far from the apple trees. I went over to check it out and noticed it was more than a rock; it was a headstone, an old headstone, a headstone that was so old its name was hand-chiseled, Chas Harris. There were four other gravesites next to Chas. I realized I stumbled upon an old homestead, how cool!

I came back excited to hunt later that evening. The place I picked out was not too far from the deer sign under the apple trees. I knew this was going to be a special night. The downside was I was also close to the gravesite, and that is a little creepy.  Now bowhunting most of my life, I have spent a lot of time in the woods, and I have seen many things. I can handle most things that make others nervous, being face to face with a black bear only a few feet away from me, walking through the woods in the dark to locate my deer stand before daylight, or walking out of the woods after night falls with only a flashlight to guide my way; your mind can play tricks on you if you let it. This particular hunt spooked me.

As I settled in my spot, thoughts of the buck of my dreams filled my mind. I don’t know how long I have been daydreaming, but somehow, I broke out of my trans-like state of mind to come to the realization that something was off. There was nothing; I mean no wind, no birds chirping, no chipmunks or squirrels running around, it was beyond quiet. The best way I can describe it is that I felt like I was in a vacuum tube. I felt as if I was in a trance.

I wanted to leave the area, but I couldn’t; I was bound by this fear, afraid to move and break the silence and give away my presence to whatever was controlling this area. As night began to approach and darkness engulfed the woods around me, I knew I had to leave. I quickly grabbed my gear and took my flashlight out of my pocket, and made quick strides out of that meadow, and I would not look back; I could not look back. I made it to the forest service road, and as I was leaving the area, I noticed the wind blowing through the trees. I heard noises again, natural noises, noises we take for granted every day.

As I am headed toward my truck, I feel a presence behind me. My hair on the back of my neck stands up. I can’t take it anymore. I quickly turn around and shine my flashlight, nothing…. I felt the “nothingness” from the meadow. There was nothing there. I turn back around toward my truck….. my flashlight turned off on me, oh no! I hit the on / off button…. nothing… I start slapping the back of it … nothing … this can’t be happening! I quicken my stride I reach the bend of the road I was walking on. Relief… my flashlight turns on by itself again. A few hundred yards, and I reach my truck. I was safe!  I vowed to never hunt at Chas’s place again.

A year later, I get the itch to start metal detecting. I realize quickly that my interest is not in coins or chasing treasures but rather uncovering history. Who dropped or buried this coin or button? What was life like back then? One day it occurred to me, Chas’s place still holds a lot of mystery to me. Chas was consuming my thoughts. Who was this man? When did he die? What was his homestead like?  After researching “Chas” Charles Harris, I discover that Mr. Harris was Doc Harris from 1881. Chas was not just a regular doctor but a spiritualist Indian doctor. Chas didn’t treat his patients with regular medicine of his time. He used herbs, oils from animal skins, and various reptiles and spells. Chas would reach out and communicate to the spirit realm and incorporate that into his “medical practice” Chas developed a successful practice, and people came from miles around to be treated by Chas. He even said that he had a sanitarium there on his farm and had colonies of patients living there.

It is a very different atmosphere at Chas’s place nowadays, it’s almost as he or something approves of me seeking out clues to discover more about this man they called Chas.  My wife started metal detecting with me she has found the most interesting item to date, a piece of an old metal syringe that was located not too far from the farmhouse on the homestead. I go back and visit Chas a couple times a year, I still hunt at Chas’s place, just not the hunting I thought I’d be doing; I bring my metal detector now not my bow. – And only in broad daylight!

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