By Rick Houser –
Growing up and living on a farm and in the country was a part of my life I will never regret. Many of my best memories come from that period in my life. I got to experience and see such a wide variety of what our world has to offer and it was right there at my feet in most cases.
One memory was the good fortune when we worked the earth and found treasures from the past. One such treasure was any kind of Indian artifact, things such as arrowheads, pieces of stoneware, and items that were made from flint. Flint is a type of stone and isn’t typical to this area, yet it could be found. Historians claim that it was transported in from as far away as Michigan in large pieces and then made into the necessary tools. Arrow heads are from flint and as a boy I would find one from time to time and put it in my pocket and take it home.
An arrowhead can be made in different sizes, ranging from very small, used for hunting fish and rabbits, to very large, which more than likely was on the end of a spear. A good condition arrowhead will still display the burrs on the sides that are designed to be difficult to remove after it entered its target. Also, if one looks at the arrowhead, the design from the point to the end that attached to the arrow was designed to twist gradually so as to be riffled the same as a bullet, giving the arrowhead the ability to twist as it is entering the target. With the burrs and the spiraling ability, it made that weapon much more dangerous than it looked at first glance.
For some reason I had a knack at finding arrowheads. I noticed that when I spotted little chips of flint, the odds of finding an arrowhead were very good. I recall one day when I was picking corn that I found three arrowheads, They were in the same area and each time I passed over one that spot I would see fragments of flint and “bingo”, then I would see the arrowhead. Seeing them from a tractor seat is almost unheard of but they were just lying on the bare ground and with the sun shining on them they were easy to spot.
It seemed that my luck at discovery was greater when I was in a tobacco patch. With tobacco the patch was kept weed-free and the surface clean. We would cultivate the land and that kind of sifted the top soil, which allowed any foreign substances to appear. I must say that finding artifacts like these did help me enjoy a little of the labors we were stuck with, kind of an added bonus.
Along with the arrowheads and other Indian items I found I also would see something shining and pick up an old coin from time to time. I have found coins of Spanish background or pre-Civil War American and once I found a Portuguese quarter dated 1772. I think I had my eyes trained to see objects that just weren’t supposed to be in the ground. Finding items like this added a little incentive to be there, other than just the hard work. That was never the incentive, hard work that is.
Over the years when I was working the soil and finding these treasures, I would stop and think about what I had just picked up. In my hand I held a piece of history that had to have been overlooked for literally hundreds of years. Just think, a settler or a pioneer had to have dropped that coin and the arrowheads had been used by a warrior and had fallen to the ground and were overlooked until I happened to pick it up. At that moment I was holding a piece of history and I was the first to hold it. If time allowed, I would observe where I was at and try to imagine what things must have looked like at the time that particular treasure was lost. I don’t think I was good at the imagining part, but it was fun trying.
I have seen other people’s collections of Indian artifacts and many are awesome and cause mine to pale in comparison, but those men excelled at finding past treasures. Not everyone is good at seeing and finding lost items. I know that on my cousins Jim Jennings’ farm, I found several arrowheads and even a Spanish coin. They had tobacco patches in creek bottoms and there I found the small arrowheads that I can only assume were to hunt fish and small game.
On two occasions I was plowing a field to plant corn in when I plowed up a tomahawk head and another time I plowed up a stone knife. Since these weren’t made of flint and were not shiny I don’t know just how I spotted them, but I was fortunate enough to see them and retrieve them. The stone knife is more of a sand stone texture that dates it much older. When I look at it, I think of ancient men like I had seen in my history books and about man’s beginnings and maybe even a woolly mammoth. This is very doubtful but when you discover a treasure like that, the imagination goes wild.
As I said, I was raised a farm boy and here was one extra bonus for that distinction. To work the earth and learn about the past all in one trip was something very few were able to do. I have kept my treasures to show those less fortunate that there were tribes of Indians and frontiersman who walked in the very same place as we are walking now, but they did so way before man as we know him appeared. I don’t know about you, but as for me I am still dumb founded, History at our feet! Kind of comes as a surprise now doesn’t it?
Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.