June  2004


The Collector
A General Manager Learns that Research is a Big Time Saver
by Samantha Carpenter

Most people have seen the Civil War through the eyes of characters in movies like “Gone With the Wind” or “Cold Mountain,” but without civil war memorabilia collectors like Ed Travis, general manager of Precision Millworks of Cumming, Ga., these stories would never come to life.

“If you were to look at any of the publications of the Civil War, every reference book that has been written on the Civil War has come from a Civil War collector, not an archeologist. The Civil War collectors that really take it to heart go out and research the records and they write their reference books. The collector has done more for the preservation and the tracing of the history and development of things during the war than the archeologists,” Travis said.

Travis became interested in collecting Civil War artifacts in the 1970s when one of his uncle’s friends introduced him to the hobby.

To find artifacts, Travis’ main method is to use a metal detector. There is a lot of land development going on in his area near Kennesaw Mountain. The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain was fought there, just before the Battle of Atlanta.

According to Travis, his most interesting Civil War artifacts are personal items, such as rings. 

“You often have to wonder what was going through that person’s mind. Did they realize they lost it? Did they throw it away? Sometimes you have to imagine what might have been the story behind it,” he said.

He said most of what is found at development sites are bullets that were either fired or dropped, buttons, buckles, artillery shells or cannon balls.

None of Travis’ family currently hunts for artifacts with him, but he says that they are very supportive of his hobby. His wife, Elissa, helps out at different club functions. Travis belongs to both the North Georgia Relic Hunters Association and the Georgia Research and Recovery Club.

Travis said that his hobby has taught him that research can save countless hours in the field and that has saved him quite a bit of time at work. 

“I have also learned that patience and thoroughness in that research will pay off in the long run. Just like designing a new window product, a lot of time and money will be saved by doing your homework prior to physically starting,” he said.

As you would expect with a Civil War buff, Travis says the Civil War movies he likes to watch are not necessarily what you would see at the theater. 

“I enjoy watching the various documentaries that PBS puts on, which actually go back and do the true research,” he said.


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