Garrard men to display artifact collection

October 13, 2004|JENNIFER BRUMMETT

Arrowheads that date back thousands of years. Indian rocks of varying sizes and shapes. A long-gone distillery's memorabilia. Buttons that are hundreds of years old, sometimes.

These may be among the artifacts and relics that Randall W. Carrier and Roy Noe, both of Garrard County, will bring to the Owsley House bicentennial celebration Friday and Saturday.

Noe says his journey as an artifacts acquirer began when he was a "little bitty boy" and he collected Indian rocks. He found items over the years as he pursued his "love of old things," as he describes it.

"I belong to a Lexington club that collects relics," Noe says. "I have a passion for things old."

Among Noe's oldest collectibles are Native American relics, most of which were found by either his father or him. Some of his "paleo points" date back to 6,000 B.C.; his earliest piece dates back to 9,000 B.C., he says. He has a quartz arrowhead that he brings out of its case that has "no flaws in the material." He has "turkey tails," "dove tails" and "sunfish-style suntails" as well as "side knots" and "corner knots," all of which describe different arrowheads or Indian rocks - among them plumb bobs, a hematite loafstone and hematite cones - in his collection.


One of his favorite pieces is a face - an ancient-looking face - carved into a stone that might have been part of a pipe, he says. Most of Noe's pieces have not been seen outside his family, and he doesn't write for any journals. Carrier, in contrast, does appraisals on estates as well as occasional authentications, and writes for Prehistoric American, which publishes a journal four times per year.

Among the rarest artifacts in Noe's collection, perhaps, are two George Washington inaugural buttons. One side of one of them shows an eagle with a starburst over it. Noe says he knows of six to 10 in existence. He says some of the buttons have 63 dots around the edges, while others have 72 or 54 dots. He believes they were given to soldiers who served under George Washington.

He also has an Andrew Jackson campaign button.

For Carrier, the path to finding and acquiring began when he was 10.

"We'd just moved into a house my dad built, and I found an arrowhead," Carrier explains. "It got me hooked. ... You're always looking, looking, and you meet other people and it goes from there."

He has Native American artifacts from four different periods, including a few pieces from the end of the Ice Age.

Carrier has spent years collecting Native American artifacts from the area, particularly from Garrard County. He has an extensive collection of arrowheads and Indian rocks, Native American advertising, and items from the old Brook Hill Distillery, which he says was in Garrard County at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th.

"It was near the Owsley House, on the other side of the road," Carrier explains. "The distillery was next to the railroad tracks."

Apparently the booze was made in Garrard County, then shipped to Paducah for bottling, Carrier says.

He shows a "back bar bottle" that would have been filled up from the kegs, and used to fill patrons' glasses. Carrier also has multiple "mini-jugs," or "salesman's samples," which he says are highly collectible.

There's a shot glass in an unusual shape, which was made to take on a train and not topple. A favorite piece is a lithograph in his showroom, a piece that would have hung behind a bar, Carrier says. It's a tin sign with a dog on it, and a "major item," he adds.

Then there's a whisky dispenser, probably a presentation urn, Carrier says. It reads "Brook Hill Old Style Sour Mash Whiskey, Garrard County, Ky." On it, in delicate detail, are two horse-racing scenes: one, with horses and riders; another with buggies, or "sulkies." A sulky, specifically, is a light, two-wheeled carriage designed for a single person.

The urn is rare, Carrier says.

"I know of about four or five in existence at the turn of the (20th) century," Carrier says. "It was a major advertising piece."

He has a Courier-Journal article dated to 1939 that describes the urn.

There also were two soft drink bottling companies in Garrard County years ago, he adds. Carrier has bottles from those companies in his collection, as well as over a hundred postcards that detail the history of Garrard and surrounding counties. All of these local artifacts are significant to him, Carrier says. "Anything local, you can connect with. It means more to you."

One of the most notable items in his collection - one that he has not seen elsewhere - is a Carry A. Nation piece Carrier says he "lucked on." It is a hatchet with the profile of Nation and the words "All Nations Welcome But Carrie." Carrier says the piece probably would have hung in a saloon.

A Garrard County native, Nation was a temperance advocate who often would march into bars, praying and singing, while smashing bar fixtures and stock with a hatchet. She was a member of the Women's Christian Temperance Union.

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