Locating a Home Site That No Longer Exists

Locating a Home Site That No Longer Exists

It is always astonishing to me to think that a place where a family lived, slept, ate, and grew old is now gone with little or no trace.  Most have subtle clues to their location even 100-200 years later.  If you know what to look for, you can find the site of the house fairly easily.

To locate a Home Site that you have been told about, located on a map or via other research in the real world, look for:

1) Large old trees, especially Cedar and Magnolia.   Usually loggers and others leave the old trees on a homesite, perhaps out of respect for the family that once lived there.  I'm not sure.

2) Consult a topographical map. I use TopoPoint on my iPad. Most home sites I am looking for I find are on the highest flat elevation in the general area that the house is supposed to be in.  Makes sense.

3) I also use TopoPoint to mark spots that would make sense for the house to be, like highest elevations and large flat spaces. It will tell me the GPS coordinates and I use a wrist GPS like the Garmin Fortrex to walk right to the spot.

Click this to see pricing and details on a Fortrex

4)  I look for depressions in ground that may be all that remains of the houses original well;

5)  I look for the big foundation rocks that once held the house up. Often this is the only reason I found the spot.  They may be partially buried.  Often they will have been moved out of a field that was later farmed.  If you find a pile of them along a property line, this may not be where the house was.  You should be fairly close however.  You might check the nearest high elevations.

6)  I look for a mound that, on closer observation, may be a pile of bricks from the fallen chimney.

7)  Look for spots where the vegetation is different from the typical vegetation in the surrounding area. Often, even over 100 years later, hedges and garden plants that were in the old house's yard still thrive. I like looking for tough home sites in the spring because often flowers will betray the location.

Once I find something above, I swing the detector to verify the site by finding the nail-bed!

Final Thoughts
Some old home sites in fields subsequently farmed are extremely difficult to find and there are no traces left.   These can be very challenging to find.   Again, check the highest elevations in the general area with your detector.  That is your best best to find them.

Good luck!


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