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Prehistory of Anthony Township

 Prehistory of Anthony Township



From telltale evidence left behind, it is known that people have been in Anthony Township since about, oh, 7500 B.C. That's 9500 years ago. The evidence is in the form of stone tools, projectile points mainly, but including knives, scrapers, pipes, axes, pestles, hammerstones, beta stones, pitted stones, pottery shards, gouges, gorgets, pendants and bannerstones. Some of these were weapons for hunting and for protection. Some of them were tools developed to harvest wood and foodstuffs. Some we still do not know what they were used for.

Literally thousands of these things have been found in the township or just nearby, mainly along the branches of the Chillesquaque Creek. The name Chillesquaque is a corruption of the Indian word Chililisuagi, which meant, according to Donehoe's Indian Place Names In Pennsylvania, Place of Snow Birds. Water provided many things for early folk, as it has for people everywhere: water, food, a way to travel and to move goods and supplies.

Early people had much more than these meager remnants in their lives; garments of skins, feathers and plant fibers; tools and weapons of skins, bark, plant fiber, antler, bone, shell and wood. You can see the difficulty of determining how life really was, what all these people utilized, who they traded with or where they traveled, when only the stone tools remain. It's a situation faced by archaeologists, anthropologists and scientists the world over. Occasionally, in extremely dry climates, like our desert Southwest, er sites now underwater in an oxygen-less atmosphere, items of all the above have been found and preserved.

Occasionally too, human remains or a human being, are found, with their belongings. The mummies of Egypt come to mind, but other, more happenstance preservations also occur. The most notable of these of late would be Otzi, the Iceman of the Alps, found eroding out of a mountain glacier and being over 5,000 years old, and accompanied by an array of dress articles and tools and weapons.

How do we know how long ago people were here? Because of the work archaeologists have done, starting with one of our earliest presidents, Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was the first to conduct excavations and record observations about an Indian Mound on his property in Virginia. Up to the present time, archaeologists have excavated hundreds of thousands of sites the world over, always seeking to improve techniques, and ever expanding and adding to our knowledge of ancient cultures.

Early people are known to science as cultural entities, often associated with the area where the culture was first identified. Thus, an early culture known as the Clovis culture obtained it's name for discoveries made near Clovis, New Mexico, in the 1920 and 30s. Closer to home, there's the Shenk's Ferry culture, named for a place in Lancaster County where evidence of this culture was discovered and defined. Such a discovery becomes known as the 'type site'. Clovis, by the way, is dated to c. 9,000-8,000 B.C., while the Shenks Ferry people were here c. A.D. 1000-1500. Each of these cultures is associated with a set of tools of particular style or design.

Stone itself is impossible to date for the most part, and when it can be it often leads to the destruction of the artifact being tested, not a pleasant thought to those of us who collect these things. So, during excavations archaeologists look for material that can be dated, like wood, bone, antler or shell. Once-living things absorb Carbon throughout their lives and this ceases when something stops living. A procedure known as Carbon-14 testing can assess the Carbon and tell when the tested item was alive. Items in association with the tested items, including stone tools, can thus be assigned dates. A whole sequence of projectile point styles has been developed for many areas of the United States.

To understand a little more, here are the archaeological time periods used in our section of the country, the Northeastern United States.

  • Before 9,000 B.C. - Pre-Paleoindian Period
  • 9,000 - 8,000 B.C. - Paleoindian Period
  • 8,000 - 1,500 B.C. - Archaic Period - divided into Early, Middle, Late and Terminal Periods.
  • 1,500 B.C. - A.D. 1,500 - Woodland Period - divided into Early, Middle and Late Periods.
  • After A.D. 1500 - Contact or Historic Period.

There are certain styles of projectile points and other tools that represent each of these periods. From personally finding some of these things, and looking at the collections that others have found, I see projectile point styles that represent the period known as the Early Archaic Period, c. 7,500 B.C. Projectile points

of this period are characterized by being fairly well made, stemmed or corner notched in design, with jagged or serrated edges.

It's possible earlier cultures were here and their stone tools have remained undiscovered. Not all cultures visited the same sites. The climate and habitat 10,000 years ago was harsh and ever-changing. Sometimes this area may have presented what early people needed or wanted, and at other times it may have been avoided.

Most known sites are along the branches of the Chillesquaque Creek. Arrowhead Road was so named because for many years I found artifacts on what was then the Lundy Farm. Several fields on their farm produced artifacts.

Another area is on what used to be McMichael Road, since abandoned by the township. This is a typical site scenario, fields elevated somewhat above the flood plain, often close to water, but rises and hillocks removed somewhat could also have been used.

It's also possible I may have the evidence of earlier cultures. Several stone tools called scrapers have been found, like those used by people 10,000 years ago. Later peoples sometimes used the same form of tool, making definite predictions very chancy. One such early form tool was found on the Pulsifer farm, while several others were found on the Schnure farm, just outside the township.

Most of the evidence from the stone tools points to most use of the area by the Archaic cultures, c. 7,500 - 2,000 years B.C. They made a series of triangular, side notched, corner notched and stemmed projet-tile points, using flint obtained locally. They also had grooved and ungrooved axes, used for chopping down trees, as wood was used for many things. They developed tools to work the wood.

They also used simple stone tools for preparing some of their foodstuffs. Stones were used for grinding, mashing, pulverizing and pounding roots, berries, seeds and the like. After this Archaic Period, our whole area was probably utilized as a hunting ground by many people, but not many stayed here for very long. There's little evidence in the stone tools for this, at any rate, and once again perhaps because the evidence has not yet been found, although liklihood of this grows leaner as the years pass.

As to what tribes lived in our township, we simply don't know, can't in fact ever know, what the people who lived here called themselves, what they called their neighbors. It's only after the white man arrives on the scene that a recorded history begins. During the time of colonization, there was much activity in this area with Indians, such as the Battle of Muncy Hills, the Attack on Fort Freeland, The Great Runaway, and various raids and depredations as the inhabitants were forced out.

During this time the Indians had access to white man's goods, and began obtaining, and using, brass ket-ties, metal tools like knives and scissors, glass beads, guns and much more. Thus, anywhere the Indians lived at this time would yield these kinds of things, but none have turned up here, or for a large area around. A Shawnee village, c. 1737 or before, is reported for the mouth of the Chillesquaque and is one of the few in the area. Madame Montour's village, just above the mouth of the Loyalsock Creek above Montoursville, dating to the same time, is another.

During the time of 1575-1700, the Susquehannock Indians resided in Lancaster County, having moved there from the north, New York State, probably to get closer to the white man's trading network. They would live on a site for 20-25 years, but eventually the soil and nearby wood supply would be depleted and they would move to another site some miles up or down river. A series of 4-5 moves can be followed in that area. For some reason the Iroquois came down and thrashed the Susquehannocks, driving them south, perhaps much as the Susquehannocks had done to the previously mentioned Shenk's Ferry people, who cease to show up in the archaeological record once the Susquehannock arrive. What remained of the Susquehannocks went south into Maryland, but came back some years later and became known as the Conestoga and Conoy Indians.

So the Iroquois had control of this area for the most part, and used it as a hunting ground, or as a buffer ground between their settlements and the white settlements. It was also at this time, as the white man encroached on the east coast, that a lot of tribes were being displaced and forced to move about. It's now that we hear of the Shawnee, Tutelo, Cherokee, and many others, whom the Iroquois, or the Penn's, allowed to stay here and there for short periods of time.

An interesting example of the Indians being forced about is the account of one of the early Missionaries

into the area, Heckewelder or the Count Zinzindorf, who, coming up the Susquehanna River, found at the mouth of the Muncy Creek a ragtag band of Monsey Indians who had been forced off the upper Delaware River. It's from this group that the town of Muncy, the Muncy Creek, Muncy Creek Township and Muncy Chief Hybrid Seeds all were named for. This same group eventually moved on westward, to Muncie, Indiana, and on to Muncie, Oklahoma where some of the Delaware tribe still reside today.

Although there was a Monsey, or Wolf Tribe of the Delaware, the tri-partite division that was around for so long of Wolf, Turkey and Turtle clans, has not been proven through archaeological research and is now questioned.

Indian names occupy much around us. Many of our counties, mountains, rivers, streams and towns bear mute testimony as to how people of the past captures all our fancies, to some degree. Just as it's not certain when the first people were in Anthony Township, the whole question of when and how the first people came into North America has recently become very murky. It was long thought that with the discovery of Paleoindian Clovis points with extinct bison, mammoth and mastodon in our desert Southwest, the puzzle was solved: These big game hunting peoples came across the Bering Strait, into Alaska, thence on down into North, Central and South America.

Discoveries of human remains in the last 10 years, and most recently re-dating of previously discovered skeletal material, show not only that the remains pre-date the Clovis Culture in some instances, but also that the remains do not resemble current Native Americans, who, by the way, would have you believe that they have 'always been here'. Not true. Some of the earliest skeletal material is older, and most resemble....caucasians? That's right.

It is now being realized that the peopling of the America's is more complex than previously believed. There probably were many migrations of people into North and South America. Interestingly, some archaeological sites in South America are older than sites here in North far! This could change, or older sites yet could be found in both areas. For now, the people here in North America before 9,000 B.C. left very meager evidence behind. When and how long ago they came, whether by foot or by boat, is now unknown.

The Clovis Culture left behind some of the most beautiful and well made flint tools to be found, highly evolved as it were. From whence did these people arise? Where are their predecessors? That's one of the burning questions right now for North American archaeolgists.

Shown are some of the more common forms and styles of projectile points that occur over a large portion of central and eastern Pennsylvania. Collectors, and land owners, have been responsible for much of the knowledge and famous archaeological sites that are known to science. Youcould make a discovery of importance, leading to more understanding of our prehistoric past. Indians, as we like to call them, were a more diverse lot than was thought, and they were all about this land for many thousands of years before us.

I spent a lot of time collecting and learning about the artifacts left behind by earlier people. Finding them filled me with questions: How was this made? By whom? Did it serve it's purpose? How and Why did it end up here?

These people raised families, laughed and cried, experienced joy and suffered pain. These are things the stones cannot tell us. All we can do is surmise about such things.