By: WT Cox
The rich history of Native American Culture can be found almost everywhere among the rolling hills and countryside of eastern Randolph County. One of my favorite past times growing up was looking for “Indian Arrowheads”. I remember priming tobacco when I was young and looking along the rows for those hidden treasures. Most farm boys (and girls) that grew up here in Randolph County have a collection that was found on their land. History tells us that there were several large Indian Settlements in western Randolph. The ones around Caraway Creek and the Uwharrie River are the most famous, but eastern Randolph had its share of settlements as well.
I remember years ago when Deep River was at a drought stage and the water level was almost dry, evidence of a large fish trap that spanned over half the river could be seen just above the bridge on US 64. The settlements that were here may have been smaller, but some date to a time many consider to be much older, perhaps over ten thousand years old. Now, most of the best land for hunting arrowheads is either in the pasture or not accessible on private land, so there are not many places left to look for these ancient relics anymore. I guess growing up in the ’60s had its advantages. My relic hunting nowadays is limited to roadsides and garden patches. Occasionally a farmer will let me walk a field that has been plowed, but most are reluctant to let people they don’t know onto their land, and who can blame them. I certainly found my share during my younger days. Many of the items that I recognize today as tools and objects Native Americans used, were discarded when I was younger because I simply did not know what I should be looking for. Even with my lack of knowledge and experience, I was able to find several axe heads and stone hammers. I even found a mortar stone that was used to grind grain, and multiple drills and arrow points ranging from tiny bird points to spearheads. Once when clearing land for a new home site, I ran across a hoard of “un-finished” points. I could not understand why so many half-made arrowheads were in one location… there were chips of flint all over the ground, but in one spot, I dug up enough rough points to fill a 5-gallon bucket. I later learned that Indians would bury un-finished points along hunting paths so they could re-claim them the next year and have most of the work crafting the points already done. When I was young one of my hunting spots for relics was not far from my house. My grandfather farmed, so his land was always accessible, but It was on land that once was an old home site for the Cowards back in the late 19th century that was my all-time favorite. In my time, it was owned by CH Burgess and we were free to walk the fields after they were plowed. There was an old “Indian Stove” carved into a large rock in the woods near a tobacco field, and evidence of another “stove” on a rock not far from there. I have read that these were used to heat stones for medical purposes, but I had always been told that it was a stove and used for baking. Whatever the original purpose was, it was a cool place to visit. We used to camp out there with our horses when I was a pre-teen and tell ghost stories… Those woods and the stories that could be told about the past made that it an enchanting place. The “stove” is still there today but in the middle of a cow pasture. The trees have been harvested, but the old stove is still there on private land.