By Pat Maurer
Sometimes little pieces of our history can be found buried in the ground in the most unlikely places. It just takes a dedicated treasure seeker to unearth them.
In Clare that person is Matt McCown.
When asked where he finds his “treasures,” Matt said, “Treasure is everywhere if you are looking for it, as far as [the] areas I go, [with a laugh] a good hunter never gives his locations to the masses.”
Matt, whose folks moved north from Romulus in 1990, grew up and graduated from Harrison and now lives in Clare.
He said, “Treasure hunting in general is my passion. I go every chance I get. My brother got me started. I have been metal detecting for over 20 years, but this year I have gotten into antique bottle digging more.”
In fact, Matt recently found a “cathedral pepper sauce bottle that predates the City of Clare,” dated from the 1870s to 1880s.
He had a little help finding this “treasure”. He said, “I found the cathedral pepper sauce bottle in the tailings of where they tore the bridge out last year [on McEwan Street] by Clare Tire. It had eroded out of the ancient soil they dug up there.” He added, “I can’t help but wonder who held this bottle. McEwan perhaps? Doherty perhaps? Hard to say, but it is a great find.”
Now he is “on the hunt” for more. “I’m hoping to find a bottle with Clare embossed on it, [and] I won’t stop ‘til I find one!”
The more than 150-year-old cathedral pepper sauce bottle isn’t his first newsworthy find.
Last year, using a metal detector, he found a Chief Petoskey badge, but even that wasn’t his only special find.
He said, “The finds are endless, I could go on and on, but my most expensive coin is a 1875H Canadian quarter (only 10,000 minted that year). I also found a 1700’s King George coin with a bullet hole through the middle of it.”
When asked what he does with the “treasures” he finds, Matt said, “Metal detecting finds stay in my personal collection, but bottles I have found are starting to go on sale on Facebook Marketplace. I love digging for bottles and if I can make some money off it, why not give the people a good deal right?”
He said the cathedral pepper sauce bottle will definitely go into his personal collection, “because it is beautiful!” He added, “This bottle was used before Clare became a city in 1891. Because it predates Clare as an official city, I always think of who may have used it and how times were [back] then. It is a ‘History buff’ thing.”
Matt and his “beautiful” wife Bobbie have two sons, Justin, 21 and Jayden, 16.
He said, “I invite everyone to check out my bottle sales on Facebook Marketplace. I am finding a lot of stuff from the 1920s and 1930s. He said he would work with anyone who is looking for a certain bottle. He said “Just message me.”
He also asked, “if anyone is willing to lend me information on [where to find] the oldest of dumps, please let me know or give me permission to look. We should all be doing a part in saving our history.”