Two Times the Fun Memorable Memorial Day
May 25 1998 is a very exciting time in Indianapolis, Indiana with the Indy
500 race, Memorial Day parades, summer time, and reunions. It was a very
exciting day for me as well in the field finding relics.
My sister Terri was in town, staying with us, from Three Rivers Michigan, (see
my column Brothers of Three Fires in
IAM), for the Indy 500 race being ran on May 23rd. Attending the race being
a family tradition that brings in many families from outlying states, the Anderson
family has for years hosted a family reunion the day after the race, making
use of the long holiday weekend. Like the last number of years, the Memorial
Day weekend was a wet rainy weekend, and it was lucky to have been dry enough
to get the race in. I am never mad to see rain being a relic hunter.
We were all very tired after attending the race, and for the first time in
many years the annual reunion was moved from the Memorial Day weekend to the
weekend following the NASCAR Brickyard 400 race also held at the Indianapolis
500 mile racetrack. My sister was planning on visiting my brothers new home
so this left my Memorial Day free for my own indulgences.
Deciding quickly to hit the fields, while drinking my first cup of morning
coffee after hearing her visitation plan, I knew I would not have a lot of
time available. If I drove very far, I would not have much time to hunt the
fields. Unfortunate the better fields were a longer drive from my house.
I drove to a location in Hancock County which I have been searching for twenty
years. It was a favorite of mine in the mid eighties to take off work on a
beautiful spring day and walk the fields. I thought of those times now and
remembered the axes I have found in this area. Mentally placing the locations
in my mind I calculated where they were found in relationship to each other.
I wondered about why I had found a nice trophy three-quarter groove ax, but
all other axes where full grooved. I wondered why I had only found one slate
celt in the entire location. I had been hunting this area a quite hard in the
last year since there are some new relic hunters in the area and I wanted to
search it methodically and well. The finds here have been dwindling recently
so I followed the creek north a few miles to a site where I had found many
points and some slate artifacts.
As I was driving the gravel roads, I noted a small knoll that I had searched
intermittently for the last few years but only found a few flakes and even
fewer relics. These relics not being whole but only being small parts. Checking
out the creek, it was up some from the rain the previous day, but I was hoping
the fields would not be excessively muddy.
As I pulled my car up to the field I had planned to search I could see the
farmer had not cultivated the prime locations and had only recently planted
the far area using the no till method. I thought my best chances at finding
anything had fell like yesterdays rains so I turned my car around and started
back the way I came.
Passing the small knoll again, I thought "What the heck, I haven't checked
the knoll lately. I don't have all day, and the corn will be knee high with
all the rain we have had in another month." As I entered the field I could
see that the corn was fairly uniform in height throughout the rise area, only
being about five to six inches. I walked over the rows to the beginning of
the first rise, which is fairly small in comparison to the knoll.
Even though ground conditions were close to ideal, I did not see many flakes
as I scanned the ground. The previous day's hard rain had soaked and flooded
many fields but this field was only damp. Making the ground a nice chocolate
brown which made the rocks stand out.
Making my way to the main rise where I had found pieces before, I started to
casually across the crest of the smaller rise, flipping over larger stones
and looking for flint. I noted a semi squared off stone barley exposed and
flipped it over. The stone looked flat and flipped over landing on the damp
ground with a thwack. I thought it might be a mano or some other type of grinding
tool when I started to bend down to pick it up. I thought to myself I could
almost see a groove area in the stone. I do see a groove in the stone! I picked
up the ax and looked at it.
This was a large ax for this area. A nice patina covers this undamaged ten-lbs.
ax. Made of granite, the entire surface has been pecked and exhibits no polish
at all. The ax dimensions are 6.5" in length, 2.25" wide across the
poll and 4.5" in height. The circumference of the groove is 11".
Holding the large ax in my hand, I was amazed at my good fortune. The bit end
had been barely exposed, unrecognizable as it lay. I excitedly called my brother
Doug and told him of my find. I then placed the ax in my side pouch by found
it awkward due to being so heavy. I thought about putting the ax in my car
trunk but that would take away time for my searching. Finally I decided to
walk back to the car since I was not very far away.
I thought about chapter 17 in the Lar Hothem book Indian Axes & Related
Stone Artifacts, which is written by a Mr. Carr in Iowa. Mr. Carr has the distinction
of being the top Indian Ax finder in the United States, possibly the world
according to Lar Hothem. Thinking that I should look in the vicinity that I
found the large ax, but further down on the rise along the cornrows, I proceed
to the area.
It only took me one, maybe two minutes to get to the area and I just arrived
there when I spied right in front of me sitting in line with the cornrow another
ax, this one being a small full grooved ax. This small ax was lying in the
smooth earth, half exposed. Half of the poll and body was showing with the
bit end completely covered. Sort of lying at a slight angle out actually. The
exposed groove and shape of the body was a dead give away of an ax compared
to the larger ax found only minutes earlier. Excitedly I squatted down to look
more closely at the ax, wishing I had brought my camera. I turned on my cell
phone and called my brother Doug. "You are not going to believe what I
just found" I told to him when he answered the phone. After a brief flurry
of excited words from him I told him that I had just found another ax.
I gently pulled the small ax from the earth, gazing at amazement the perfect
imprint left in the dirt. Hold in the small ax I could see that it was virtually
undamaged. There was only a very small scratch along one side, and I hesitate
to say it may be from a plow strike. There is an ample amount of patina found
throughout the entire ax. Made of granite, one side of the bit has a small
one-inch by one-inch area of very smooth polish, while the other side exhibits
none. The entire bit area does exhibit some polish from use. The ax dimensions
are 3.75" in length, 2" wide across the poll and 2.5" in height.
The circumference of the groove is 5.75" and the circumference of the
poll is 7.25".
Strangely enough it is not all that uncommon for me to find two hard stone
relics in a single day. In the past during the same day in the same fields
I have found: 1) a large Mississippian celt and full grooved ax, 2) a full
grooved ax and a pestle, 3) a pecked unpolished full grooved ax and large slate
flaked preform of a gorget, 4) a small full grooved ax and a bell pestle.
The holidays are always more memorable when you find a nice relic during them.
Even more so when you find more than one. The Memorial Day of 1998 will long
be remembered by me as continuing with what already had been a very good year
of finding relics, with keeping with the two times the fun tradition.
Jeff Anderson works as a computer consultant in Indianapolis Indiana working
in the computer field since 1983.
Lar Hothem, Indian Axes & Related Stone Artifacts
Thursday, June 11, 1998
© 1998 Jeff Anderson