The month of November marks an observance of Native American Indian Heritage Month, and the Richard H. Thornton Library is helping showcase this observance with a display of arrowheads and other artifacts from the private collection of North Carolina Room Specialist and historian Mark Pace. The collection includes pottery shards, spear points, arrowheads and primitive tools that Pace has collected for more than 50 years.
Pace says he found his first arrowhead when he was eight years old on his grandfather’s farm in Johnston County. That find – with a fluted point – got him hooked, and led him to continue his quest to uncover more. In all, he has more than 25,000 pieces in his collection, some of which have been verified as being thousands of years old.
“Looking for artifacts is therapeutic to me,” Pace says of this passion he has followed for most of his life. “I’m not a golfer, but I compare this to making a hole in one. When I find one, it’s a great win.”
Pace’s collection includes artifacts from many areas of the state. The most he has found in one day, he recollects, were 60 pieces uncovered near Williamsboro. Those finds, as well as many others, he keeps in boxes in his home, with a few choice pieces displayed in a handcrafted case in his living room.
“I often wonder about the people who made and used these,” he says. “If whole civilizations were here so many years before us, how permanent are we?”
Ironically, the first piece Pace found in Johnston County, back when he was an eight-year-old, has since been dated to be 10,000 years old. This fluted point arrowhead, one of the oldest in his collection, is a rare find that has been documented in archeology journals and is part of the display at the Thornton Library through the end of this month.
“Everyone knows how much I love history and genealogy,” Pace adds. “We all have to remember that history goes back way before 1746, when Granville County was formed. Years from now, there will be those who will be learning about us. I wonder what they will find?”
(A display for Native American Indian Heritage Month is also featured at the South Branch Library in Creedmoor, as well as books available for checkout at the Stovall and Berea branches.)