Ray Camp holds a bracelet from the remains found in his Wetumpka backyard on Sunday. Contributed photo
Ray Camp holds a bracelet from the remains found in his Wetumpka backyard on Sunday. Contributed photo

Wetumpka man finds possible Indian skeleton

Published 12:15pm Monday, December 16, 2013

Sunday afternoon Ray Camp was testing out his new metal detector near his Wetumpka home when it signaled a hit.

He began to dig and a few inches below the surface encountered remnants of metal.

As he started to remove pieces of two copper bracelets, Camp realized they were attached to bones. Closer inspection revealed beads, teeth and other items.

“He stopped and called me,” said Heath Jones, founder of the Alabama Archeometalology Historical Society of which Camp is a member. “We talked about it and decided he should call the local police immediately in case it was a crime scene.

“Even though we both thought it was an Indian burial site, it’s better to err on the side of caution.”

Officers from the Wetumpka Police Department arrived and agreed that the remains were archaeological rather than criminal.

The next phone call was to the state archaeologist, Jones said.

Stacye Hathorn, state archaeologist with the Alabama Historical Commission, along with Native American representatives, were on site Monday.

“We were told the remains were of a Native American,” said Jordan Fogal, a friend of the property owners. “They said the beads were of European origin.”

The remains were reinterred and will remain undisturbed.

Jones said the discovery was an exciting one for Camp and other members of the AAHS. He said the group’s mission is to go to sites when property owners make contact because they believe there may be something of interest.

“We are not treasure hunters,” said Jones. “We do this to preserve history. Most of the time the things we find are musket balls and artillery from the Civil War or old coins. This is the first time one of us has found human remains.”

Jones, who lives in Heflin, is a retired police officer and currently a political strategist.

“I just moonlight as a metal detector and history researcher,” he said. “We have eight people in our group right now from several areas of the state – Athens, Thomasville, Birmingham, Wetumpka, Hamilton, etc. Most of us are law enforcement, former law enforcement of military. All of us have a high level of integrity and respect.

“The main thing we want to get across is if someone finds anything like this, they should call the proper authorities immediately. We want to make sure finds like this are handled correctly and with respect.

“One of the bad things is when something like this is found, you tend to attract not-so-desirable people who will dig up artifacts intending to try to sell them.”

Jones said the group is trying to “get the word out” about their efforts.

For more information about the group, visit the Alabama Archeometalology Historical Society Facebook page.

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