South Point peninsula was once a Native American haven
Jack Page with just a few of the Native American artifacts he found on the South Point peninsula. Photo by Alan Hodge
By Alan Hodge
Long before, centuries before, the South Point peninsula began its transformation into a clogged two lane road and a sea of subdivisions, the area was a wilderness home to Native Americans and early European settlers.
Few, if any, folks know that better than lifelong Belmont resident and historian Jack Page who spent many, many days exploring abandoned South Point farmsteads and the banks of the South Fork River looking for whatever historical treasures the soil held. Page’s finds included an impressive collection of arrowheads, spear points, pottery, musket balls, and colonial era utensils a considerable amount of which is on display at the Belmont Historical Museum.
Page recalled finding his first Native American artifact on the South Point peninsula.
“The area had been logged fairly recently,” he said. “The trucks had left some deep ruts. My eyes fell upon a perfect spear point. I later discovered it was over 10,000 years old.”
Page was bitten by the amateur archaeology bug.
“At one time there was a lot of abandoned farm land on the South Point peninsula. I could park my vehicle beside the road with full confidence that no would mind if I walked those fields. I never dug. I was a surface hunter. I loved to hunt artifacts that emerged when the ground had been plowed or disturbed in some mammer.”
Page described some of the places he found artifacts.
“Any old home site was a prime area,” he said. “Also, where Indian camp sites had been situated near water such as the South Fork River.
Usually I began by looking for rock chips from arrowhead making. Then I began looking in such an area in earnest.”
What did he find?
“Local tools and points in our area are made from quart and rhyolite,” Page said. “Each culture in our area had distinct projectile types. As time moved on, the introduction of agriculture began a cultural revolution that needed tools for clothes making, food preparation, and containers for storage.”
Europeans appeared on the South Point peninsula in the early 1700s. At one time there was a small fort built there. Early settlers were named Leeper, Kuykendall, Stowe, Armstrong, and Smith. Among the artifacts that Page found that might be attributed to these and other pioneer folks were musket balls and table knives.
Page commented on the changes that have taken place on the South Point peninsula.
“The demise of farming on South Point and the building boom has limited or destroyed evidence of Native American having lived here for thousands of years,” said Page. “The Catawba tribe was a late coming group that had been predated by numerous earlier cultures. If you are lucky you might still stumble upon a projectile point or a pottery shard. These artifact are overlooked unless you educate yourself by studying those like the ones in the Belmont Historical Society.”