Digging up the past

History keeps surfacing in Angie Hong’s backyard

A Stillwater Gazette press plate from Dec. 31, 1971, shows an advertisement. Stillwater resident Angie Hong dug the plate out of a small mound in the backyard of her Stillwater home recently. (Photo courtesy of Angie Hong)

It seems the more Angie Hong digs in the backyard of her Stillwater home, the more history rises to the surface.

Hong and her husband were digging in a corner of their backyard recently as part of a fence project when Hong spotted the part of a metal object sticking out of the ground. A few tugs and she unearthed an old Stillwater Gazette press plate Dec. 30, 1971.

Hong said the plate was black with tarnish but enough of the original printing was left that she could make out an advertisement.

“The sheet was the size of a full page of the newspaper, but most was too rusted and black to read anything,” she said. “However, I did take a couple of close-up (photos) where you can still read things, including an ad for ads that looks like it could have come out of today’s paper.”

Hong said she has no idea how the plate got buried in her yard. She said the area where she found it was a mound she described as a “back slide that might have been a retaining wall that fell down.”

“I have no idea what was back in the corner,” she added. “Why would a homeowner want something like that. It seems odd why anybody would want something like that.”

The printing plate was the latest item dug out of the backyard of Hong’s century-old Stillwater home. Hong, an educator with the Washington Conservation District and contributor to the Gazette, wrote about three men who found several bottles buried in another part of her yard.

“They were finding things. They said this was an old privy where everybody dumped things,” she said.

How the old Gazette printing plate got buried in Hong’s yard will remain a mystery. She does not know how many people lived in her house before she and her husband bought the residence more than a year ago.

“Our house is very old. Ours was built in 1870 according to the (county) assessor,” she said.

Contact Erik Sandin at [email protected]