Digging the past

Event at Campus Martius Museum highlights history

Gabe Sheehy, of Marietta, works on a hands-on activity at the annual Campus Martius Museum "Digging the Past Archaeology Day" on Saturday.

Visitors to Campus Martius got a trip back to the pre-history and history of the area when local archaeologists shared their findings of arrowheads and other stone tools made by the earliest settlers.

During the annual “Digging the Past – Archaeology Day” program on Saturday arrowheads and other stone tools unearthed in and around Washington County were brought out and described in detail by those who unearthed and studied them.

Bill Reynolds, historian at Campus Martius, said over the years there has been a tremendous response to the event from younger generations.

“With Marietta College being part of this along with Andrea Keller from the Grave Creek Archaeology Complex near Mounsdsville and Glenna Hoff, education director at Campus Martius, the activities have been popular,” he said. “It’s not all things academic. We have finds from northwest and northeast Ohio and many other areas.”

Sheila and Lacy Hapney, of Belpre, have been hunting for artifacts for the last six years.

“This is something we tried to get my granddaughter interested in at one point,” Sheila said. “If these young kids don’t get interested then this stuff just won’t be found.”

They said they have gone over fields that were pretty much hunted in the 1960s and are still finding several items.

“It’s a passion, once you find one you’re hooked,” she said. “It’s like gotcha ya.”

They said most of their findings have been arrowheads and a few carved stones. She said they have also found beads and a piece of copper.

“These are found in fields and along any feeder creeks into the Little Kanawha and Muskingum rivers,” Lacy said. “It’s great exercise and it doesn’t cost a lot of money. You just get permission to walk the fields, pick up any trash for them as you go and find pieces of history.”

Waterford resident Richard Henry, president of the Wolf Creek Chapter of the Ohio Archaeological Society, has been hunting for stones for 35 years and also has his children Kavan and Kaylee involved in exploring the archaeology of the area.

Henry said the cases of arrowheads and other stone implements he had on display at Saturday’s event represented about 70 percent of his collection.

“What you see here is Muskingum River and Washington County,” he said. “It’s getting harder to find things. With no till planting in use, the farms aren’t digging up things like they used to and other methods break up the larger items, it is getting harder.”

Mike Dull, of North Canton, Ohio, was demonstrating flint knapping at the event.

“What I’m doing here is flint knapping, which was how tools and weapons were made by breaking off pieces of flint to make what was needed,” he said “I got into making this about 20 years ago.”

Mary Pfeifer, of Marietta, and a museum board member, said she is personally interested in what she and others have found.

“I’ve hunted arrowheads all my life,” she said. “This area also had what they used to make paint for their faces, they would grind it up and put it into small bowls.”

Bob Eckert, of New Matamoras, was showing pieces of his collection Saturday.

“I’ve hunted them all my life,” he said. “I used to go fishing and about 15 years ago I took my wife along and she found some arrowheads along the creek and loved it.

“We have arrowheads all over the place.”