The Lesson of Mr. Ploenges Farm
I grew up in the country close to the Indianapolis Indiana area.
In late 1983, when I moved from St. Louis back to Indianapolis,
I was looking forward to meeting old friends and searching for
Indian artifact in my home state. Little did I realize that many
of my best finds would actually be found within a few miles of
where I grew up.
Through the winter of 1983 and the spring of 1984 I traveled throughout the
central Indiana area, sometimes driving for an hour or more to search for fields
to hunt. Finally, after limited success in my wandering, I stumbled across
a suitable field.
I grew up during the 1960s outside of a small town called Cumberland, which
has since been engulfed by the urban sprawl of Indianapolis. Cumberland, until
the growth boom, was a small town with many German farm families in the surrounding
area. As most small boys living in the country, we played in many of the farm
fields both while crops were planted and after harvest. Our families next-door
neighbor was an elderly farmer of German decent, Anton 'Andy' Ploenges, who
was born on his families farm land in a log cabin in 1883. He farmed the land
until he died in 1980.
When I was old enough I took over the job of cutting Mr. Ploenges lawn from
my older brother Greg. Mr. Ploenges was in his early eighties then and like
some small children, I was somewhat frightened of him. He was still active,
butchering cows and hogs, or working on his roof. Even then, Mr. Ploenges was
a sturdy man over six feet tall but the years of farming had taken their toll.
Missing a few fingers, and scaring from sun cancer on the side of his neck
and face, made me leery of staying close to him for very long.
My good friend Mike Hampton's family lived in the Ploenges' hired hands house
which sat across the road from the main farm house. During one of our country
hikes together in later years, Mike gave me a slate full groove ax found by
Mr. Ploenges many years ago. After Andy Ploenges passed away in the mid 1980's
another farmer who lives further up the road purchased the Ploenges farm land.
While visiting him prior to searching for Indian relics, his wife mentioned
during a conversation that Mr. Ploenges had a passion for history and especially
for the history of the Indians who once roamed this area. This was confirmed
by Mike's mother Liz one evening while visiting her for dinner.
In the spring of 1984 my girlfriend, Theresa, and I were driving out by Cumberland
Indiana looking for a location to hunt arrowheads or search for old bottles.
As we drove down the county line road I remembered that there had been an old
barn on the farm which burned to the ground back in the early 1960s. Where
the road was once a dusty gravel road, a nicely paved road now stretched. Where
the barn once stood, now there was a cultivated field with only a few large
trees remaining by the road. We thought there might be an old bottle or two
around the site. Possibly something worth looking for since not too many people
in the area then remembered the barn.
Both of us were skeptical of finding anything yet I pulled the car off of the
road by a large tree and we got out to look around. We stood there talking
for a moment before I started into the field. On my first step into the field,
with one foot still on the road pavement, and the other planted in the moist
dirt, I paused to ask Theresa why she was hanging back. I looked back at her
to see her leaning against the car looking at me while she buttoned her coat.
Without saying a word I looked down by my right foot to the ground and saw
a large corner notched point protruding from the earth.
At less than two feet from the road side, the point was lying flat in the dirt
over eighty percent exposed. Only the extreme tip of the point was covered
with soil. I could not believe it. Here I had come to this spot to hunt for
bottles, and after driving all over mid Indiana, I find my largest point yet
within site of my boyhood home. I pointed to the point and called Theresa over
to look at it before I lifted it from the ground.
As I held it in my hand, I immediately recognized it a Godar type point. The
material is Indiana Hornstone, or Harrison County flint and is semi glossy.
Harrison County flint ranges in hue from a dark blue to black. The cross section
is flattened and has been re-sharpened from both sides. The relic is totally
complete without any damage.
The Godar is an Late Archaic relic dating between 4500 - 3500 B.P. typically
found in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, southern Wisconsin
and Arkansas. Examples typically range in size from 76 mm to 140 mm in length,
are narrow to wide side-notched with parallel sided blade edges when unsharpened..
The type also has straight to rounded side notched base which may or may not
be ground. The basal ears are generally rounded to square. The type was named
by Gregory Perino in 1963 for points he recovered from west central Illinois.
I have found many other points in the same field and fields in close proximity.
My brother Doug found a very nice fully polished slate celt within twenty feet
of where I found the Godar a year later. Three nice Lost Lake points, all made
of Harrison County Flint, have been found in the area by myself since finding
Finding such nice artifacts so close to where I lived for so long just boggles
my mind. I think back upon all the years I roamed the area, including Ploenges
field, I wish I had started hunting when I lived there and was so much younger.
I can look back through all those years, and I can still see my old home from
the spot where I now find so many wonderful Indian artifacts now.
Thursday, October 02, 1997
© 1997 Jeff Anderson