Projects - The Hickory Log Artifacts Exhibit
Imagine a trove of artifacts buried for as long as 2,000 years. Just such a find was made in Cherokee County prior to the Canton Walmart construction in 1995. Paul Webb was the first archaeologist involved in the excavation at this site. The photo above shows Webb on the right with Mr. Billy Hasty (center) and Mr. Skip Spears (left) at his Chapel Hill, North Carolina office. In this photo, the archaeologist was showing the Reinhardt University representatives some of the artifacts that were excavated from the Canton site. Following the excavation, the artifacts were moved to Webb's North Carolina office where they were under study and analysis for years. More than 100,000 artifacts from the banks of the Etowah River were found. This location is now known to archaeologists as the Hickory Log Site. Ancient pottery, turquoise pipes and 19th century remnants of the Native American presence in North Georgia are among the objects photographed by Webb. Initial funding of the project was by the Army Corps of Engineers.
The Funk Heritage Center raised $50,000 to return and care for the Hickory Log find. In May 2014, the entire collection was sent from Chapel Hill, NC to the University of Georgia Archaeology Laboratory where the materials will be curated and protected in a setting that meets federal requirements. The next challenge is to revamp FHC exhibits so we can display the artifacts in the Hall of Ancients. Professionally designed exhibits will explain how the artifacts were excavated, what they mean and what they tell us about the ancient peoples who lived in Cherokee County. The exhibits will be exciting as well as informative and bring life to forgotten civilizations, especially the Cherokee who inhabited this area when Europeans explored and settled. As a newly certified site on the National Park Service's "Trail of Tears" we are eager to exhibit Hickory Log finds that show the interaction between Cherokee and the white settlers.
Help us bring the past to the present! This is an important project, one that will help school children, area residents and tourists learn more about the history of Cherokee County and the Etowah region. Reinhardt University and the Funk Heritage Center officials are anxious to make the collection available for all visitors to appreciate.
Make a Donation Today
Anyone interested in making a donation for this project can send a check to the Funk Heritage Center of Reinhardt University. Please note for: “Hickory Log Collection.” All donations, large and small, will help with this project. We hope you will make a generous contribution toward bringing our region's past to life. We will add your name to a dedicatory panel listing the names of friends, neighbors, businesses and organizations lending their support. Please contact us at 770-720-5970 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you need additional information.
Pictured above, (right to left) Dr. Mark Williams, Director UGA Archaeology Laboratory, Dr. Thomas Isherwood, then President of Reinhardt University, and Billy Hasty, Chair of the Reinhardt University Board of Trustees. At a May 15, 2014 press conference, Dr. Isherwood presented a check to Dr. Williams for the curation of the Hickory Log artifacts.
More History of the Hickory Log Artifacts Project
In 1995, construction of a new Walmart in Canton opened the doors to this discovery. When contractors encountered archaeological materials, Walmart reacted as a good corporate citizen, suspending construction so a scientific excavation could be made. The actual work was funded by the Army Corps of Engineers and accomplished by Archaeologist Paul Webb’s Atlanta-based firm. Billy Hasty, Reinhardt University Board of Trustees Chair, was Canton city attorney at the time. He recalls his amazement when he saw pottery and stone tools that dated to the time of Christ -and before- as well as the remnants of Cherokee life. He said, “It was incredible to hold in my hand an object used by Native people thousands of years before Canton existed.”
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) assigned an official name to the site: “Hickory Log” after a small creek that enters the Etowah River there. Later, Webb’s company was acquired by TRC Solutions, and Paul relocated, taking the artifacts with him to TRC’s facility in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. For 18 years, Paul has worked with this and other collections. It has been a slow process. Organizing and analyzing them takes time. At the urging of Billy Hasty, Heritage Center Director Joe Kitchens located the collection and contacted Webb in late 2010.
In early 2011, a delegation from Reinhardt University, including then President Thomas Isherwood, and members of the museum’s Advisory Board, went to Chapel Hill to see the collection. The Reinhardt delegation came away hopeful that a way could be found to acquire and exhibit these artifacts in the Funk Heritage Center—to bring them home. Now, that the funds have been raised, this will become a reality when Phase II of the project is completed which includes having exhibits designed and installed.
When Webb, pictured above, came to Reinhardt to present a lecture in March, 2012, he brought examples from the collection and lectured on the significance of the study that had consumed almost half his professional life. An interested audience from Cherokee and surrounding counties turned out to hear what Webb had to say. He was enthusiastic about returning the collection to Georgia. Meetings with Georgia officials underscored the importance of professional curation of the objects to meet guidelines which are set by federal regulators making this an expensive project. Meanwhile, an ad hoc committee of the Reinhardt trustees began working through some of the complex issues involved. It was thought a partnership with some research entity might be a way around spending the inevitable millions of dollars needed for curation. Discussions with Dr. Mark Williams, Director of the UGA Archaeology Laboratory, led to an agreement in which FHC paid the Laboratory to curate the collection which arrived at UGA in May, 2014.