Buried Wooden Pipe, Possibly From the 1800’s, Found Near Detroit
What an incredible find!
In the Facebook group, Michigan History, people often post interesting finds, questions about Michigan's past, and so on. Recently, a man named James Stottlemyer shared his incredible discovery: a pipe that's possibly from the 1800's.
The pipe, pictured below, was discovered while James was digging for antique bottles. He doesn't give an exact location but in the caption states that,
The site I found it at was gone in the late 1800’s, and I have found artifacts as old as the late 1700’s there.
Now, James is asking if anyone has information on the maker of this pipe.
The pipe includes some inscriptions that, from what I can tell, read:
- O'Dwyer Bros
James speculated that the 'T.D.' were some sort of initials with the O'Dwyer Bros being the makers of the pipe.
Out of curiosity, as if my luck would be any better than James', I tried a quick google search of the name O'Dwyer Bros along with "pipe". While I didn't find a quick link to who exactly the O'Dwyer Bros were I did find a website auctioning off pipes that are very similar to the one James found.
The auction, currently listed on the website for a company called Cowan's, describes the pipes as being made of clay instead of wood as I had assumed. It would certainly better explain the longevity of the found pipe considering it was underground. Much like the pipe that James found, these also include the inscription of "Detroit" along with the initials "T.D". In their description, Cowan's wrote:
"T.D." is thought to refer to Thomas Dormer, a pipe maker from the mid-1750s to about 1780. These were so widely sold that "T.D." came to refer to a style of pipe and examples with this marking are found well into the 19th century.
Unfortunately, it got me no closer to learning about the O'Dwyer Bros.
So, I turned to the comments of James' post. There are over 200 comments but some of the more helpful ones include:
Kristofer L. who wrote: I noticed it is engraved Dwyer Brothers on the pipe, could be the brothers who founded the Michigan Stove Company. And included a Wiki link for the Michigan Stove Company which you can see here.
Adam M. commented: Dwyer brothers were stove makers and were responsible for Detroit becoming an industrial powerhouse. More than likely this was a promotional idem given away or sold in stores. Sure enough, Detroit Historical Society does have an entire page dedicated to the Dywer Brothers. Read more here.
Gregg F. had a similar find: Very cool, I found one once with TD on it surrounded by 13 stars. I've always wondered about it's origin!
And Rick R. said: Shared with society for clay pipe research. Someone there will probably be able to help you out.
And that's what we know so far!
When I was a child I always though buried treasure meant heaps of gold coins, jewels and other valuable trinkets. While I would not complain about stumbling across a gold-filled chest, this is still a pretty incredible discovery. As James hunts down the origin of this buried clay pipe, he's also hunting down other treasures. You can follow him on Instagram if you'd like to see his other finds.