J.F.C. Museum reflects collector's fascination with rocks

January 04, 2004|JOHN T. DAVIS

Danny Curtsinger is a man on a mission.

"My goal is to keep history in town instead of hitting the dumpster," Curtsinger said.

And when Curtsinger talks about history, he's not talking just about the history of the human beings - both the Indians and the settlers - who have lived in this area for hundreds of years: He's talking about the history of the creatures that lived here millions of years ago, too - the kind of history that's found in rocks.

He has a particular fascination with rocks, and he's opened a museum - J.F.C. Museum and Trading Post - near the corner of Stanford Avenue and Gose Pike in Danville to display some of the thousands of rocks he has collected and purchased in his lifetime.

His passion is to make people - and especially schoolchildren - understand what Danville was like 300 to 500 million years ago when "you didn't see Wal-Marts."


What you would see is a sea and what fascinates him is that the remains of that sea are still here - in the form of fossils.

"When you pick up that rock, instead of throwing it you might want to look at it a little more closely," he said, and bring it in to the museum where he can help identify it. It might be a fossil, a meteorite or an interesting mineral, he said.

Curtsinger began collecting rocks 40 years ago and he said he has about 70,000 pounds of them beneath the floor of his museum. Still he's looking for more. His "day job" as a driver for UPS gives him the opportunity to be "out on the roads" in the area. "When I see stuff lying on the ground, I go back later and get the OK to look things over," he said.

While most people might see a construction site as a hole in the ground, Curtsinger sees it as a golden opportunity to hunt for rocks or Indian relics. And he's had some interesting finds.

He's been digging shark's teeth out of Parksville, Somerset, Lebanon and other towns in the area. "I've found shark's teeth from all over Kentucky ... that you didn't even know were in Kentucky."

And he's found that "the Indians had their own Wal-Marts."

In Garrard County, he found 13 moccasin-making stones lined up along a riverbank. The Indians wrapped skins around the stones to form their shoes, and the stones came in different sizes to fit everyone in the village, Curtsinger said.

And he's also found what might be called an Indian food-processing establishment. He found 151 "grinding stones" at one site in Garrard County. He imagines several hundred people gathering nuts, cracking them and picking the meat out of them in assembly-line fashion.

Curtsinger also has learned that the building he purchased from his family five years ago to open the museum has quite a history itself. He believes it may have been one of Danville's earliest structures and would like to hear from anyone who has any information about its history.

The J.F.C. Museum and Trading Post, which Curtsinger operates with the help of Kay McClure and A.J. Johnson, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday. The trading post sells a wide range of craft and historical items. The phone number is (859) 236-7057.

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