Southold Indian Museum seeks artifacts, volunteers

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | Joe Townsend, who recently became a member of Southold Indian Museum’s board, points out items in the museum’s collection.

It’s been 50 years since a group of nine amateur archeologists, many of them local farmers who discovered Indian artifacts while plowing their fields, founded the Southold Indian Museum.

The sleepy museum, owned by the Incorporated Long Island Chapter of the New York State Archaeological Association, is open just two days a week this time of year (and only one day in the winter), but it’s one of the few places on Long Island with such a treasure trove of Native American artifacts.

On Saturday, Aug. 19, the museum will hold a 50th anniversary celebration at McCall Vineyards in Cutchogue, which sits alongside Fort Corchaug, the historic settlement of the Corchaug Indians.

Greenport insurance broker Joe Townsend, who has been a member of the museum’s board for about a year, is chairing the event. He said the museum is also looking for new board members, as most of its founding members have now died.

“We would like to get more people involved. A lot of people who founded the museum are gone,” said Mr. Townsend, who found his first “point,” as arrowheads and other projectile points are called, about 20 years ago. He’s been collecting artifacts found throughout the North Fork ever since.

An entire display case of Mr. Townsend’s finds, along with those from many local farms, including the Krupski Farm in Peconic and the Latham Farm in Orient, are on display at the museum.

The museum has one of the best collections of Algonquin pottery in the Northeast, as well as some points dating back as much as 10,000 years. It also owns a 60-acre flint mine in Coxsackie, N.Y.

In the brick building’s basement across the street from the Custer Institute astronomy center on Main Bayview Road in Southold, are many more artifacts than the museum has space to display, many in shoeboxes waiting to be catalogued.

Mr. Townsend said he’s noticed trends in places where artifacts are found. In the Goldsmith Inlet area of Peconic, for example, many have found basalt tools, while in Hallocks Bay in Orient, they tend to find wampum.

He said he’s hoping to encourage more local people who might have Indian artifacts — or who might want to help keep the museum open during Saturday evening hours, when the neighboring Custer Institute is open — will join the volunteer effort for the benefit of future generations.

Tickets for the Aug. 19 benefit are $125 each, and come with a one-year membership to the museum. The event takes place from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Call 988-9345 or email [email protected].

The food is being donated by several local chefs and Braun Seafood Company, D’Latte Café, Harbes Family Farm, Jedediah Hawkins Inn, Krupski Farms, Latham Farms, Lenz Wineries, The Market Café, McCall Vineyards and Widow’s Hole Oysters.

[email protected]