02-07-2019 Tri-City Area History Page

Hunting for arrowheads My mom and dad were keen amateur archaeologists. Their specialty was early Native American history. They loved to hunt for arrowheads and other relics of the ancient people who lived right in this area. One of their favorite spots was out north of Hartford. There beside a small lake were sand dunes, ever shifting and revealing evidence of long ago people who lived, loved, reared their families, and sometimes made war against each other. They were called The Mound Builders. Their weapons were stone axes (called Tomahawks), bows and arrows with stone tips, and spears with stone tips. Of course the wooden parts were long since gone. Those arrowheads were laboriously chipped from flint. The process by which they made all of those beautiful weapons was also lost. Experts can sometimes tell where they were made. For instance, out in Idaho there is a wall of black volcanic glass. The local artisans there chipped black weapon points from it. Some got traded and a few showed up even here in Michigan traded from tribe to tribe. Our folks found one made from red glass… tiny and beautifully made. My sister took it to a jeweler to be appraised. He said it was ordinary red glass, but so unusual it was worth about as much as if it had been a ruby! When we were kids our folks would often tie in together a picnic and a Sunday afternoon hunt for Indian relics. They had favorite places among the sand dunes over toward Lake Michigan. My sister and I came prepared… we had with us books to read. We could explore sand dunes and look for relics. Then when we were tired we’d find some shade and read. Over the years they collected so many my dad made cases to display them. From their estate we gave each of our kids a collection of artifacts from all over the United States. One place we visited we got a double whammy! That was Tennessee. On a spring trip with the folks we visited the Murfreesboro area. There my folks found a place to look for arrowheads and also found relics from the Civil War. Back in those days it had not become illegal to pick up war relics. That area was fought over in the battle of Stones River. For days the two armies faced each other. Meanwhile the GIs were carving names, dates, and sayings in the rocks along the river bank. You can still see them. We went to a farm house outside of town, and our folks talked to the owners. They were seeking permission to look for relics on the land. Of course the Smothermans said it was all right. In fact we became friends. They had two daughters about our age, Orma and Magnus. Nice girls, and a little shy, but we gradually got acquainted. The mother, Mary, and my mom became good friends and corresponded over the years thereafter. One day we decided to have a picnic. We took Mary and the two girls with the promise they would show us some real southern mansions. We drove around the area and finally found a nice grassy spot under some big trees. On a hill behind was a huge old home. We spread a tablecloth and got out all of our picnic things. Right in the middle of lunch a car came along and turned into a drive that went up to the big house. It came to a screeching halt and backed up. Out came a young woman, nicely dressed, and she was breathing fire. She said, hands on hips, “Well, I hope when y’all are finished you pick up your trash and leave!” She jumped back in the car and spinning the wheels, scattered gravel and started up the drive again. Then her brake lights came on, and she backed up even with us. We were still standing there open mouthed as she got out of the car and came over. “I’m sorry,” she said, “I’ve had a bad morning, and I just realized that you are from out of state. You probably didn’t realize you were eating in our front yard. When you’re finished, come up to the house and I’ll give you a tour.” We did. Mary admonished the girls, shaking her finger in their faces, “When we go up there, don’t you dare say a word or she’ll realize we’re natives and should know better!!!” We sat on the big front veranda and had iced tea. Our most gracious hostess told us stories about how their mansion survived The War Between the States. It was a marvelous day, and we found some bullets from the battle and also some arrowheads. We remained friends with the Smothermans over the years to this day. The only one left is a daughter, Orma. Whenever we went to Florida we stopped to visit. She insisted that we stay with her, and she has visited us in Michigan. It’s great to have friends like that. They are among the golden threads in the great tapestry of our lives in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River.

Coloma Library News Read with Spirit Spirit, a certified therapy dog will be at the library on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Children may sign up for a 15-minute slot by stopping in at the front desk or calling the library at 468-3431. Reading to Therapy dogs is a fun way for children to build reading confidence and fluency. Book Club The Coloma Library Book Club is meeting on Thursday, Feb. 21 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “Into the Water” by Paula Hawkins. Generally, depending on demand there are titles available for check-out at the front desk. The book club is always looking for new members. Stop into the library or call 468-3431 for more information.

Hartford Public Library News On Wednesday, Feb. 13 from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m., the Hartford Public Library will be celebrating “Valentine’s Day”. They will be decorating heart shaped cookies, creating valentines and playing games for prizes. Every Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., they have a new program called “Stay and Play”. All children and adults are welcome to play with their doll house, the giant LEGOS, use the computers and play with sticker sheets. Stories may be included in the play time. This is a non-constructed children’s story time. No registration is required and there is no age limit. This month on Tuesday, Feb. 26 they have a “Pokemon Drop-In” from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.; anyone can bring their cards to show. They will have Pokemon Wii available to play. There will also be a Pokemon scavenger hunt. Call 621-3408 for information on any Hartford Library activity or visit their website at www.hartfordpl.michlibrary.org.

Glimpses From The Past

Tommy Rogers the Peanut King and Popcorn Prince, for many years was a well known figure near Badt’s Pharmacy in Coloma. North Berrien Historical Museum is always interested in photos, stories or information sharing. The museum can be contacted at 269-468-3330 or by email to info@northberrienhistory.org. From the photo collection at the North Berrien Historical Museum 300 Coloma Avenue, Coloma

Watervliet District Library News Sweet Taste-Testing Thursday, February 14 Drop in any time 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and taste test candies from around the world. Can you guess its origin? Does it please the palette? Pick up a score card at the desk & be the judge! Participants will be entered into a drawing to receive their own box of chocolates. Pinteresting Monday, Feb. 25, 6:30 – 8 p.m. Arts & crafts for grown-ups held the last Monday of the month. February – Needle Felted Hearts Adult Reading Program Three prize levels; 5 books per level. First place: Fuzzy Socks; 2nd: Mug & Cocoa; 3rd: Eye Mask; Grand Prize: $50 Gift Card to Oasis Hot Tubs. Program ends Feb. 23. Yoga Yoga sessions are cancelled until Wednesday, Feb. 13. Please call 463-6382 for more information on any Watervliet Library activity.