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Spencer Geasey on His Early Experiences in Archeology - Presented at the 2004 Annual Symposium in Archeology
A long time ago, back in 1937, I found my first arrowhead. I was 11 years old, this was in New York State, and the reason that I know it was an arrowhead was that we had a retired professor who taught archeology at a local college. He lived two blocks away, so I took it to his house. He said it was a quartz Madison triangle point and that got me started for the next several years. When I was 13 and 14 I was out every weekend looking for Indian sites. I would find material and take it to Professor Stearns and he would say. “Yes it’s an artifact or no it wasn’t.” and so on. I really had an interest, and like Howard (McCord) said, I had a friend my age, and we rode bicycles, we didn’t have a car, we were riding all over 20 miles looking for Indian sites.

The material I collected from Long Island totaled over 400 artifacts which, 2 years ago, I donated to the Long Island Archeological Society. A lot of it was found in Queensboro, which is part of New York City, but this was a long time ago.

Like Howard, I went into the service in World War II and took Basic Training at Ft. Bragg, NC. One day we were out on maneuvers and were going across this cotton field. I looked down and here’s Indian pottery and points and everything. They said, “Dig in here. Dig a foxhole.” So I dug a foxhole. No sooner had I finished digging that they said, “Move out, we’re going to advance. I said, “I’d love to be able to look here for about an hour in this field.” We ended up late in the day, five miles from there and I couldn’t even find that site if I had to.

When I left Ft Bragg they transferred me to Camp McCoy, WI. Again, when we were out on maneuvers one day, overlooking a little stream, they said, “Dig a foxhole.” I dug a foxhole and out rolled a point. I looked along the bank and found several others. There was an Indian site there, a hunting camp probably. I didn’t have time to dig the site so I gave it to Howard. We moved too much in the infantry.

I moved to Maryland in 1945. I knew of sites before I moved here. I had relatives in the Frederick area and for three summers I spent two months each summer with relatives on the farm out near Lewistown. There was a site out there called the “Mountaindale Site.” I didn’t find it, but some of the local young fellows told me about it. You could go out there after a rainstorm on a plowed cornfield and you could come out with 35 or 40 points.

I was there one day and there were several boys, they were 14 years (old) or so. They had these 3 inch Selby Bay points, they were beautiful, complete points and they were tying them onto sticks, throwing them across the creek and smashing them on the rocks. I almost cried. I said, “You shouldn’t break those up! They should be saved.” They said, “Well, we take them into Frederick and a man gives us a penney a piece for them. And it’s not worth going ten miles into Frederick with them.”

I think that was our friend, Nick Yinger that was finding them. Anyway, the Mountaindale site was quite a site. It had everything from early archaic to right up to late woodland. The main part of the site was built on in the 50’s. They built a general store and put up several small cottages right on the site.

I also had another site on the Monocacy near Walkersville, called the “Devilbiss Bridge” site. I had a cousin who lived there and he farmed. I was out there fishing one day when I asked, “Can I look in the cornfield?” He said, “Yeah.” Sure enough, it was an Indian site, overlooking the Monocacy River. We found quite a few points, some pottery, crude axes and so forth.

I actually got more interested in rockshelters, because in Frederick County we have the mountains and rock formations and in the 50s, from 1951 on, I explored streams and areas for rockshelters. I probably looked at 150 rockshelters around the county. Only 15 of them were worth doing anything with. Some were not used, some may have too damp in prehistoric times and they didn’t use them. I brought slides to show you some of these rockshelters. Many of you have seen these slides before, but I think they are good examples of what we have found in that area.