Ultra Thin St. Charles Dovetail

May seventh of 1988 was just another spring day as Theresa and I attended an auction at the Rushville Indiana Gun Club, which contained a sampling of Indian relics. The auction was small, the artifacts decent but not great. After the auction we decided to go for a drive in the country and possibly hike in the woods. The St. Charles dovetail I would find later that day was to be my first and finest dovetail found in Indiana.

VERY thin dovetail found by Jeff Anderson

I always have liked the fun of auctions. Farm auctions in the country gives me a chance to see the countryside and get away from the stress of the job. Auctions in towns large and small provide opportunities to see new sights and meet new friends. The excitement of finding a rare piece in a farm auction, which only has one or two long ago found relics in a huge estate, is mind boggling. Sometimes it is possible to be the only person there who knows the true value. Sort of makes you want to jump with excitement after purchasing such a nice item. I like to explore the surrounding area after auctions, looking for possible search locations. I was pleasantly surprised to find one of my best dovetails after such an auction.

After the auction was complete, we found ourselves driving east on Highway 44. And then onto some back country roads until we were about an hour away from where we started at the Gun Club. Following the river along its winding route, we decided to look around for a field to search for relics. We saw a creek and drove down the gravel road, scanning the area fields for possibilities. After parking, we walked about a quarter of a mile without seeing any flakes or signs of inhabitation when we started into a small section of soil on a modest rise that had higher clay content.

The small rise was set back off of the river quite a distance. The elevation of the rise was such that there were no rocks. At certain elevations it is common to find a significant amount of gravel due to the glaciers which covered Indiana during the Pleistocene epic. This knoll was north of the creek, and on a gentle curve which provided a wide view of the area to the northeast.

When we were almost to the rise, we could see clearly the markings where the soil composition changed. The ground was hard from the baking sun with cracks and splits due to the lack of rain. Once we reached the rise, almost immediately I spotted the back one half of a relic sticking straight up into the air. It looked as if someone had plunked an ancient knife into the earth and the handle had immediately rotted off. I could see the basal end of relic was exceptionally nice, very thin and made of a quality chert.

I pointed to the relic so Theresa could see it. Even though she was walking almost next to me, she was looking off into the distance - at what I still do not know.

As I pulled the point free, I could see its fine shape and that it was completely whole. Being extremely thin it is fortunate to survive the passing of time. The dove is 2.75 inches in length and 1 inch wide. Made of a white creamy local material this is one of the most fragile relics I have found in many years. The base is ground, and the point tip is very sharp. No nicks mar this work of art that is made from a white semi transparent flint common in the area. Certain portions of the relic are semi translucent.

The St. Charles Dovetail is an Early to Middle Archaic (9000 - 5000 B.P.) point found in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and West Virginia. Edward G. Scully named the type in 1951 for points that he found in the central Mississippi valley in St. Charles County, Missouri.

The excitement of an auction is second only to the thrill of finding a rare and beautiful Indian artifact that has been buried, untouched for so many years. I get a thrill out of finding any relic, broken or whole. But the beautiful dovetail found that warm day in 1988 will live forever in my mind.

Jeff Anderson works as a computer consultant in Indianapolis Indiana working in the computer field since 1983.

By: Jeff Anderson
Saturday, November 28, 1998
© 1998 Jeff Anderson