Dale Clark's outstanding presentation on the prehistoric peoples and artifacts of south central Iowa packed the house at Pin Oak Lodge last night --- and there was plenty of pie and coffee, too. So we couldn't have asked for more so far as an annual meeting of the Lucas County Historical Society is concerned.
Well, there was that slight confusion an hour before the meeting started about a misplaced key, but detective work by board members Ann Moon, Helen Thompson, Fred Steinbach and others resolved that --- and we were off and running.
We're very lucky to have the Pin Oak Marsh Lodge as a venue for a program of this sort, so thanks as always go to the Lucas County Conservation Board and the conservation staff.
I'm not going to try to report on Dale's presentation, but a couple of features made it especially informative. Dale authentically recreates, decorates and fires reproductions of the pottery pieces that prehistoric south-of-Iowans would have created and used here --- and that's really interesting to see.
Using prehistoric artifacts from his collection, he also recreates tools in the form they would have been used by our earliest neighbors. It's one thing to see a stone hide-scraper that's been collected in the area; another to see it attached to a handle as it would have been a thousand years ago when it was being used.
Dale also brought along something especially meaningful to Lucas Countyans --- a small selection of artifacts from the collection amassed here by Harry Cooper LaRue (1879-1950), perhaps Lucas County's most accomplished --- and professionally adept --- collectors. Dale is the current custodian of much of that collection.
Beyond an overview of the people who created these artifacts, Dale also provided some guidance for others who might have an interest in collecting. Did you know, for example, that it is illegal to collect artifacts from public ground? Artifacts spotted on federal-, state- and local-government-owned lands are to be left alone.
It's also important to document finds so far as location and other factors are concerned. Dale, for example, does collect on private property --- but each find is reported to the office of the State Archaeologist and linked to the site where it was located (he is certified as a site surveyor by the Office of the State Archaeologist).
This certainly was among the most informative programs we've had during my years with the historical society. If you missed it, I know that Dale plans to present this fall in Corydon during the annual fall festival at Prairie Trails Museum, so you might check the museum's web site for a date and plan on attending that.
Thanks again to Dale, to everyone who attended and to the hard-working historical society board members and staff who pull this event together every April.