Central States Archaeological Societies
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When Your Pockets Aren’t Big Enough

by David Marolf

Central States Archaeological Societies 2022 October Journal
Manchester, Iowa



When Your Pockets Aren’t Big Enough
Figure 1. First point I ever found in Wighty’s Creek, a nice corner notched, Early Archaic period Kirk or Palmer point with heavily ground base and notches

No one I know of wins all the time, especially when relic hunting. Many times, even when conditions seemed perfect, I’ve come home empty-handed from an artifact hunt with only the satisfaction of a nice hike in the outdoors. But sometimes your dreams are realized and you discover something extra special. The following story recounts one of those instances.

I grew up along the Iowa/Missouri border in southcentral Iowa with numerous relatives a generation and two generations older than me who had collected Indian artifacts as far back as the 19th Century, so the hobby came to me naturally. In the late 1970s, I was a young man with a new job in Muscatine, Iowa, an unfamiliar place 150 miles from my “stomping grounds”. I began immediately looking for streams and campsites where I could search for relics (You Never Know What You’ll Find, CSAJ, January, 2018, page 29). It didn’t take long to discover how rich in artifacts the lands adjacent to the Mississippi River were.

I’ve met some interesting characters in my journey of discovery; farmers, businessmen, etc., and, of course, other collectors. One such character was Dan Gast, a farmer, who owned a now famous Hopewellian Culture mound site at the base of a bluff in Louisa County, Iowa, but his story as it relates to me will have to wait for another day. Another character was a businessman, Pat Mealy, who owns a sawmill at the base of a bluff in Muscatine (A Giant and Two Dwarfs, CSAJ, January, 2017, page 64). The focus of today’s story will be on one of my favorite characters, Dwight “Wighty” Stineman, an artifact collector.

When Dwight was a young man, a boy who couldn’t pronounce his Ds always called him Wighty, and the nickname stuck. Regardless, WIGHTY was what he had embossed on the personalized license plates of his old white Ford pickup truck. So, I’ll stick to Wighty throughout this story. Of course, Wighty wasn’t just an artifact collector. He was a carpenter, handyman and jack of all trades including an excellent restorer of Native American artifacts (My Stick Can See, CSAJ, April, 2019, page 66). Just to emphasize how much artifacts meant to Wighty, he had a large three-quarter groove axe etched into his tombstone!

In June of 1978, at 26 years old, I had already been an artifact collector for roughly 12 of the past 16 years. Inexplicably, I took most of four and a half years off to further my education. On one of my first days off at my new job, I was tooling around the countryside looking for places to artifact hunt in “The White Knight,” which is what I called my white, 1967 Ford Falcon. I came to a stream in Louisa County that looked promising so I talked to a fellow on its lower reaches and got permission to hike. It was June and sultry and there’d been no rain at all, but I struck off upstream anyway. The stream was channelized and the substrate very sandy, not much for rock bars, but after a while the stream became more sinuous. The first thing I found were tracks, human footprints; a good sign for an artifact collector looking for new places to hunt. Finding footprints upon arriving at your hunting destination is not unusual which is why one needs a repertoire of destinations, right! I continued on, following the tracks and in a short while, maybe 15 or 20 minutes, there before me in the center of the trickle flow a nice ...


This excerpt from "When Your Pockets Aren’t Big Enough" published in the 2022 Central States Archaeological Societies 2022 October Journal

Read the complete column in the Central States Archaeological Societies 2022 October Journal which can be purchased on-line after March 2023

Engraved Crescent (Group) Bannerstones – A Rare Subtype
Figure 2. Sample of relics that the author found in Wighty’s Creek, Louisa County, Iowa. Left to right, Kirk Corner Notch, Graham Cave, Drill, Adena (Waubesa), 5” Nebo Hill, Nebo Hill, Agate Basin, Godar and Graham Cave with needle tip. The less than ¼” thin knife blade at bottom is 5 ½” long.