Central States Archaeological Societies
Central States Archaeological Societies
Connect with CSASI on facebook

The Inside Story of a Calf Creek Preform

by Tim Dunham

Central States Archaeological Societies 2017 July Journal

Otterville, Missouri

This beautiful preform blade (Figs. 1,2) was found on the south side of Dearborn, Missouri, by E. “Myers” Johnson. Dearborn is a small town of 496, divided by the counties of Platte and Buchanan. On the south side of Dearborn are the old fairgrounds where they held an annual fox hunting competition with participants and their dogs coming from all over the midwest. From 1913 through 1933, Dearborn was one of the stops on the Kansas City, Clay County and St. Joseph Railway (KCCC & SJ). Portions of the old rail-bed are still visible to this day.

One day, when Myers was about 14 years old, he was out exploring the woods south of the railroad tracks and found a few arrowheads near a small creek. That creek runs into Bee Creek, which is a major tributary of the Missouri River north of Leavenworth, Kansas. He knows the find was prior to 1956, when he and his mother moved to Kansas City, where she took a job at Commerce Bank. After growing up in the Kansas City area, he also took a job working for Commerce Bank. His career as a bank examiner brought him to Otterville, Missouri.

I met Myers in January of 1988 when I went to see him about a loan. By this time, Myers had taken the position as President of the Otterville Bank, a place he held until his retirement in 2008. He also was very instrumental in helping me acquire my first artifact collection. As the years went by, I would stop by the bank and show him some of the nice artifacts I had found. One day, he said that he had found some arrowheads when he was a kid and asked me to come by his home sometime and see them.

A few weeks passed and I was at the bank making a deposit, when he asked me if I was busy later that day. I said no, and he asked if I would come by. After I got to his home, he invited me in, and came out with a small box of arrowheads. Most of what he had were small Woodland blades (Snyders). However, one stood out, a very wide and colorful blade. I was not sure what type it was, so I told him to bring it to my local artifact show that was held in Sedalia, Missouri. At the show, a local collector/ authenticator, Ryan Keele, identified it as a Calf Creek preform made of Boone Chert, normally found in the southwest Missouri area. I inquired if Myers would be interested in selling me the piece. However, he indicated his daughter would probably inherit it. Therefore, since that day, I had not given the blade much thought.

Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to both find and acquire a nice artifact collection. I still enjoy the occasional visits with Myers about artifacts and other mutually enjoyed hobbies. I also feel lucky to continue a friendship with him after his retirement from the bank. In January, 2017 he called and asked me to come by. We began our visit in his sunroom, with the blade I’ve admired for years sitting framed in the middle of the table.

He asked me to take it out of the frame and, as I proceeded to do so, he began to talk. He said he had talked with his daughter about it, and had decided to gift it to me. He said that since it had been found in Missouri it should stay here, rather than going to England, where his daughter now resides. I was completely surprised and told him honestly, it’s too nice a blade to be given away. At that point, he said there would be no further

Figure 2. The other face of the blade. It is exceedingly thin.
discussion about money. He did ask one thing of me, to take it to Ryan Keele and get it authenticated with the typology of the blade. After a nice visit, I found myself excitedly bound for home and literally jumping for joy. After showing my wife and telling her the story, I proceeded to call Ryan and ask when I could come by. A few days later, I stopped by Myers’ house to drop off the certificate, as he’d requested.

I can’t express my profound gratitude and the honor I feel to be gifted with such a nice artifact, from a man I proudly call both mentor and friend. I continue to look forward to our visits and each summer my wife and I face the challenge of making a batch of our homemade salsa that is yet “too hot” for him and his wife. After many years and batches of salsa, they’ve not yet asked us to turn down the heat, so the quest continues. I am very proud to have a such a beautiful and unique artifact in my collection!