Below are some Mill Creek Hoes made by
Kinsella over the last few years. They're Mill Creek hoes because they are
made from Mill Creek chert (flint) from Union Co. Illinois. Mill Creek is some of
the toughest chert around and will tear your billet to shreds. It's
toughness is precisely why Mississippian agriculturists prized it. If you
were to use a weak chert, it would chip when used in the soil. Heat-treated
chert would chip easily, so raw Mill Creek which also is found in thinner,
flatter, nodules was preferred. During use, the chert becomes dull and gets
a high gloss on it's surface. This glossy surface can be knapped off to make
a new edge. Some removed flakes can be heat-treated and made into small
arrowheads. This process can be seen occasionally, when we find arrowheads
with hoe polish on them.
This notched hoe was
made in 2000 from Mill Creek chert and hafted to a dogwood handle with
deer rawhide. Hide glue mixed with charcoal was used.
Note the hafting method with the wood butting the top of the chert hoe.
This was used to put less pressure on the rawhide and more on the wooden
These two Mill Creek
hoes were made for the Manitoba Museum, in March 2009.
are both sides of the original Mill Creek nodule for hoe # 1.The rough
nodule weighed 6 lbs.-13 oz. and measured 20 cm. X 17.9 cm. or 7 7/8" X 7"
Here are both sides of Hoe # 1. It
measures 14.3 cm (5 5/8") long by 10.6cm. (4 1/8") wide. It weighs
1lb.-1oz. and took only about 20 minutes to manufacture.
Here are both sides of Hoe #2. It
weighed 15 oz. and measured 15.6 cm. long by 9 cm. wide.
Here are 3 views of Hoe #2
after it was hafted. The dogwood handle measured 37.5 cm. long by 6 cm.
wide, or 14 3/4" long by 2 3/8" wide. It was lashed using whitetail deer
rawhide glued into place with a mixture of hide glue and charcoal.
This is another Mill Creek hoe, sometimes
called a spade. The top end, often is left with an unfinished portion to
assist in the wooden hafting. The unfinished portion gives a flat spot for
the chert to abutt the wood. Both notched and unnotched hoes were used to
till the fertile soil of the American Bottoms. The corn and other crops
produced with these tools fed thousands of people for over 200 years.
This hoe was completed on November 1st, 2008. This is also made of Mill
Creek chert but this one is the spade type.
Here's a spade Larry made
last summer(2007). The chert (flint) spade is 7 5/8 in. long.
Hoes and spades were also made of
Kaolin flint or chert.
(Photo Bill Iseminger)
(Photo Pete Bostrom)
Like most tools, hoes have a second
use. Here, Larry cuts some thatch with the notched hoe. He has backed over
the Big Blue Stem and holds the stems tightly in his left hand while
striking with the hoe. Only 2 or 3 swings are needed to cut the clump. Larry
will then lay the clump in front of him and back over the next clump to be
cut. Thatch can be cut very effectively this way, using only a stone hoe.
(Photo Bill Iseminger)