100 Objects

Stone axe

Prior to the coming of French and English traders, who brought with them iron tools, Native Americans in this region were limited to using wood and stone for their weapons and tools. A wide range of items were formed from stone by grinding one stone with another. Native Americans would often use stones found along streams because their coarse nature made them ideal for grinding and polishing. It is a labor- and time-intensive process because a harder stone, known as a hammerstone, must be used to first shape the tool, and then sand and water were used to polish it.

The stone tool pictured here is a full-grooved stone axe. The groove running around the stone was used in the process of hafting, which means the attaching of a handle to the tool. A wood handle was split on the end and then slid into the grooves on the axe. Sinew was then used to attach the handle to the axe. Stone tools were used for thousands of years until the introduction of iron tools by European traders.

The axe featured here was found on the farm of Hugh Curry while plowing a field for planting. It was donated to the Washington County Historical Society as part of the Hugh Curry Estate.

Clay Kilgore is executive director of the Washington County Historical Society.

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