Raccoon Creek Valley

By Emmett A. Conway, Sr., The Olde Forester

This description was written in response to an inquiry from Chief Spirit Shadow about the history of a farm on Staneart Road in Raccoon Creek Valley:

Stanhart Road runs south from US 50 west of Bolin's Mill Bridge. Keith Staneart and family have lived there many generations. The post office has changed many names of roads to suit themselves and destroyed historical names often. Keith and his brother, Cecil were friends of mine. They went to Zaleski School where my wife taught first grade.

I have been down that road to where it now ends. I was looking for the ancient road from Athens to
the Scioto Salt Springs, now Jackson. The road used to cross the creek and continue eastward.

All of the Raccoon Creek Valley is beautiful and wild as it once was. There must have been many
Indian village sites on terraces and wide places in the valley. "Indian Fields," they used to be called by
the first settlers after the land was taken over by the US.

Last July 10 at the open house for the Hope School House new Visitor Center for Zaleski State
Forest and Lake Hope Park, a Mr. Coe was there. His ancestors had a water mill just below the
Moonville bridge over Raccoon. Mr. Coe related that a long time ago his grandfather spoke of some
Indians coming from their Reservation in Kansas  with a 100-year old American Indian woman who wanted to see the village site where she had lived many years. The took her down Raccoon Valley and found the site. I heard of another such return of Indians to the Reed Farm west of Hamden. There are two rock shelters there with much midden on the floor. Mrs. Meadows, living there, said that they planted a western cottonwood tree which grew from a green staff. The tree is still there, she said.

The Raccoon Creek Valley from from near the Herrold Farm on the Powder Plant Road to Hope
Station and eastward through old Moonville and then south to Rt. US 50 and on, is a geological
phenomena. It is one of several stream reversals caused by the glacial period. At Moonville area there
was a breakthrough where water from a branch of the Hamden-Zaleski River changed course and
began to run through  a branch of the Albany Preglacial River--the part of Raccoon now running
from Moonville south past Stanearts, etc.

The wild rocky cliff areas along Raccoon near the Big Sand Woods, now the Zaleski State Forest,
was long a favorite hunting and wintering area of the Indians for longer than anyone knows. An 1820
book on the History of Ross County states that, "Until 1815 or near that date, files of Indians would
pass through Springfield Township on their way to winter hunting areas on Salt Creek and
Raccoon". The Coe legend verifies this statement. Athens County History by Walker mentions the
same facts about a branch of Raccoon, Hewitt Fork, which joins at Moonville. It has been my sons,
Emmett, Jr. and Richard Conway's favorite hunting area also.
Now that beaver, turkey and deer are back in the forest, it is more like when the Indians lived there.
We want it to stay that way. Richard trapped his first beaver in Raccoon near Moonville and has the pelt. He tanned it himself. Undoubtedly, Indian trappers caught and traded beaver pelts with the first white people who came to the area. If we only knew the history of the area in a better way.

Richard took some pictures when he was hunting with his 11-year old son last fall in the Moonville
area of Raccoon. He has a couple of "Lookout Rock" along the road to Robinette Ridge. This is where the trail starts down the valley and has long been abandoned.

The sycamore trees with their white bark in winter are very spectacular. The river birch may have
been used by the Indians to build canoes. Some birch trees are large enough. They also used hickory
and elm. Many basswood grow in the coves which provided wood for baskets and buckets. Sugar
maple syrup and maple sugar were learned from the American Indians. Rock shelters, often have
hominy or Indian Mill holes in sandstone within or outside the rock shelters. At Mike Shea's farm,
now occupied by John Williams and family, there is a rock shelter with a hominy hole.

Important Indian Paths crossed Raccoon Creek valley. The Road from Athens and Marietta (of the
settlers) followed ancient paths which crossed below Stanearts and on down above Vales Mills. The
Hunting Path, as I call it, went through just above Moonville from Athens and the east and on over
the ridge to cross Raccoon near Coalmont Hollow. It continued westward to cross the Ankrom
Cemetery Road at the lowgap just north of Daft's barn. Old timers, like Harley Fee, called it, "The
Old Buffler Trace". It still shows as a deep groove in the ground from all the ancient traffic.

The Zaleski Black Flint, much used by the earliest Indians, outcrops at about the elevation of your
home on Sand's Hill. All the fields are full of the broken pieces left behind by the work of the Indians.
Near the hilltops from Locust Grove to the southwest towards Sand's Hill and on southwest toward
Richland Furnace Tract had ancient flint quarries. Ed Haggerty's yard on the Lockerplant road is
covered with spalls of Zaleski flint. Hammer stone tools have been found, one of quartzite weighing
twelve pounds. It would be a good place to visit with your friends. The Haggerty's would welcome
you. The Buffler Trace would have been a main road of the Indians.

I do not have a copy of the outcroppings of the Zaleski black flint to post on the web. It might not be
a good idea as people would trespass trying to find it on private property. The book on "Geology of
Vinton County" by Wilbur Stout gives the elevations in your area and north and south.

The aquifer which supplies McArthur and eastward is the Big Injun Sand (I think they meant engine,
but drillers talk about the "Big Injun Sand(stone). It is called by Stout as "The Allensville Sandstone".
It is the fine-grained sandstone you see in the creeks. The reason the western part of Vinton County
has no good wells is because the water enters the sandstone north and south from Allensville. The
strata slope southeastward at 24 feet to the mile.

Thanks for getting me going on our subjects of common interest. A nice happenstance, that we were
giving the lecture about Indian Mounds and Earthworks just last evening.  I would like to send a
copy of this letter to my family and friends as they are all  will want to know more of the philosophy
you believe in. The web can be put to good use and it also can become a nuisance.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. "May the wind be always at your back, your
path be dry and free from sticks and stones, your moccasins be comfortable and dry and the sun
shine brightly on your tepee."

The Olde Forester

--- Original Message -----

     From: Chief Spirit Shadow
     To: conwaye@zoomnet.net
     Sent: Sunday, November 28, 1999 5:27 PM
     Subject: Need Info

     Greetings to Mr. and Mrs. Conway...I (Patty Newman aka Spirit shadow)  We are
     back on line and wanted to write to see how everything is going with you.   I also
     need to ask if you know anything about the Smith farm on Stanehart Rd.  A Guy
     from Columbus has purchased it and wants it to be used in a good way to help
     people.  He has asked for our involvement in finding out from the frontline of vets,
     homeles etc. to live there and they must provide services to the community.
     1) However, what I wanted to know from you if the history of the land, because it is
     a beautifl place for earth people like us, and I can feel the presence of serenity there.
     It has Raccoon Creek running through the botton land with lot of native treees,
     especially, sycamore, birch etc, forest, and stone ridges.
     2) Is it possible for you to send me printouts of the black Zaleski Flint map. and also
     the aquafier that lies under Vinton county.
     Tell Mrs. conway that I said hello and Season's greetings to you both....Peace...Spirit

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