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Treasures lost and found at Rose Hill | News

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Treasures lost and found at Rose Hill
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HUGO, OK -- The answers lay somewhere beneath poison ivy roots and the brown earth surrounding the foundations stones of Rose Hill. In the clear light of an October morning, a team of both professional and volunteer archeologists began scraping away the layers burying an antebellum past. "We're trying to find the foundations of the original house because we don't know where it was," says one of the dig leaders Amanda Regnier.

"We're finding a fair amount of burned things. We're finding square nails which would date to the nineteenth century. We're finding a lot of burned glass and ceramics decorated in the kind of way that we would expect to see from 1840 and that's what will really give us the clues," said Regnier.

In 1840, the Rose Hill plantation was Robert Jones' favorite of seven plantation holdings.

He built a house for his third wife worthy of his loft status; 15 rooms, a library, and portrait gallery.

His talent for business was great but his timing poor; Jones lost it all in the Civil War and in the years after.

He died in 1871.

His grave stands next to the cedars he planted in the family plot.

"Sounds like an interesting guy," says an observer. "He would have been a very interesting gentleman to sit down with," agrees John Davis of the Oklahoma HIstorical Society.

The empire divided and dissolved.

The house burned almost a century ago.

The place remained overgrown and forgotten except for spook and treasure hunters.

But the Oklahoma Historical Society purchased the 40 acres surrounding the original site.

They cleared it off and, over a weekend, 3 different Oklahoma organizations began digging.

Brick fragments and broken glass, the first layers reveal the kinds of things you'd find sifting through the ashes of a house fire.

But deeper down treasures start to appear; a wine goblet and medicine bottle lying next to it, an old bell and silverware.

Volunteer Earl White and his young digging partner found good stuff less than a foot down.

Earl joked that the rest of the diggers were jealous, "They're all wanting to dig in my pit," he laughs.

Foundation stones reveal the outline of the old mansion.

But other buildings, detached kitchen, barns and old slave quarters remain hidden in the brush.

Much of the old Rose HIll remains a mystery but slowly a remote corner of the Old South rises again.

The State Historical Society, Oklahoma Anthropological Society and Oklahoma Archeological Society are all hoping to collect enough evidence to place the site on the National Register of Historic Landmarks.

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