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
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.
Here's a spade Larry made
last summer. 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)
These are pictures of a
Mississippian shell hoe Larry made in November 2004.
Larry's newest Mill Creek notched
hoe. The stone was knapped in 2005 and it was hafted in April 2007.