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July 16, 2024

Fossil Man

Eustace Winn enjoys 

searching for historical finds

by Mark H. Stowers

The Bolivar Bullet

The Mississippi River has long been a fossil treasure hunter’s dream come true. With the recent all time low levels on the big muddy, fossil hunters uncovered a wave of treasures never seen before. One such hunter, Eustace Winn has been walking the banks of the river for decades and has a verified collection of ancient history. The Delta area farmer grew up in Greenville, but lives in Bolivar County raising, soybeans, corn and pecans which he also custom harvests. 

While Winn makes his living from the Delta dirt, he also enjoys putting his toes in the sand and water up and down the Mississippi River to uncover relics from the past.  He recalls his first venture out into the fields to look for hidden treasure. 

“When I was a little boy, my grandfather, Hilliard Lawler from Rosedale, took my cousin and me out on the river and told us to go look for fossils and I “think” I found one that day!” said Winn. 

After graduating from college Winn really got into searching for artifacts with the help of another fossil hunter, John “Puddin’” Moore. 

“He told me about his methods and showed me his vast collection. Also, Lonnie Looper, who has a big collection that is housed at Delta State, gave me a lot of pointers and told me where the best places are to search,” said Winn. 

George Phillips, the Paleontologist at Mississippi Museum of Natural History in Jackson has helped Winn identify the items he has discovered over the years and has verified his collection. 

“Phillips uses a comparative analysis system to identify your items and can pinpoint the approximate historical dates connected to your finds,” said Winn. 

Winn uses a 21-foot, aluminum cab boat, that he named The Wild Rebel, to help him maneuver around the river from sand bar to sand bar, on his hunts.

“We’ve typically put in at Rosedale and when we see gravel at the edge of the river, we pull in to investigate. Generally, the fossils are mixed in with the gravel. I probably have over 500 fossils total and about 60 of them are the cool ones. We find petrified wood out there, real cool driftwood. I had a friend one time find an arrowhead, but I’ve never found any.”

Winn has a display of his collection at his family owned Baby Doll House in Benoit, the oldest home in Bolivar County. 

“I have a small museum set up upstairs, and I will do tours by appointment,” he said.

His adventures haven’t turned up any Civil War cache, but the Merigold treasure hunter continues to keep his eyes peeled for fossils and whatever else he can turn up. 

“Pecans and fossils.  Those are really my two favorite things!