Artifact show in Fort Loramie Sunday

By Patricia Ann Speelman -

FORT LORAMIE — For as long as anybody can remember, area farmers and gardeners have been turning up Indian artifacts in their fields and flower beds.

Arrow heads and stone tools pop up out of the ground when farmers plow. Coins, buttons and musket balls set off metal detectors.

Recently, more focused efforts have unearthed artifacts that seem to be connected to the very earliest non-Native Americans who settled the Fort Loramie area — items left behind by traders at Pierre Lorimier’s store in 1762, troops under the command of George Rogers Clark in 1782 and visitors to Gen. Anthony Wayne’s supply depot during the War of 1812.

Those and more will be on display during the Fort Loramie Historical Association Artifact Show, Sunday, April 23, from 1 to 4 p.m., in the association’s museum, 37 N. Main St., Fort Loramie.

Admission to the show is free. And so is the opportunity to display items that have been found by local residents. Anyone in the Shelby County area who has collected pre-historic and early historic (pre-1820) objects is welcome to participate as an exhibitor. No advance registration is necessary. Set-up will begin at noon.

“We’re going to put up 20 tables. It would be great to have them all full,” said organizer Ken Sowards, of Fort Loramie.

People who have found items they can’t identify are welcome to take them to the show, even if they don’t have a collection to exhibit. Local experts will try to determine what the objects are and date them. They’ll help people find out if what they have is a rock or an artifact.

Sowards, Ken Gigandet and Don Gusching, all museum members and volunteers, along with Gigandet’s daughter, Megan, 10, have put together an event that will interest amateur archaeologists, historians, students and anyone who wants to know more about the early past of Fort Loramie and Shelby County.

“We thought it would be neat to get as many local artifacts in the same place at the same time as we can,” Sowards said. “We thought it would be a great way to bring people into the museum to see their history.”

An ongoing archaeological dig at the site of the Lorimier store along state Route 66, which is now a farm owned by the Fleckenstein family, and an exploration and program in 2014 to locate the site of the Greeneville Treaty Line terminus on Gigandet property have sparked a community-wide interest in local history, Gigandet said.

Experts, including Greg Shipley, who has overseen the Fleckenstein dig, will exhibit what they’ve found and answer questions.

They will also advise anyone interested in how to get started in searching for artifacts.

“Anybody can walk and do surface hunting. That’s just walking in a farm field,” Sowards said.

“That’s how my kids found their (collections),” Gusching said. Even young children can become excited about their finds. Megan followed Sowards around the Gigandet farm and has a nice collection of historical pieces that Sowards has given her.

“I do like the arrowheads. I always like those,” she said.

Attendees will be able to hear about how various objects were found and to join in theorizing about why they were found where they were.

“Every artifact has a story,” Sowards said. “We can sit here and speculate and people are learning history. We have military buttons from different units. (At the Fleckenstein farm), we’re finding even naval buttons and a British artillery button from the Revolution.”

He has musket balls with teeth marks in them.

“If you bit down on the bullet, it made it spin more when it was shot,” he said.

“There will be a lot of stories swapped, Sunday,” Gigandet said. “People may get in here and discover a hidden gem they’ve got here in the museum.”

Cub Scout Troop No. 355 will open the event by presenting the colors and leading the Pledge of Allegiance.

For information, call 937-295-3607.

By Patricia Ann Speelman