Collection began in 1888
The Iola Historical Society has received a donation of Native American artifacts from the family of Ray Towne.
“The collection was started by an 8-year old boy named Ray Towne,” said Lyle Mork, with the Iola Historical Society. “In the summer of 1888 when Ray started working in the fields, picking potatoes had its rewards. He became an expert in finding arrow heads and would fill his pockets with artifacts.”
Towne spent years collecting items until he passed away in 1939.
“Most of this collection is pretty old,” said Mork. “After his death there were several attempts to put the collection in the local museum, but no one was interested or had the money at the time.”
Grandson Wayne Towne was asked to look after the collection.
“We agreed that it should be available for people to see the art of the people that are now long gone,” Towne said. “We talked about how the collection should be shown in the area where it was found. Thanks to the Iola Historical Society, our wishes have now became a reality.”
The majority of the items come from Waupaca, Waushara and Portage counties and were brought to the Iola Historical Society in 2011.
With the help of archaeologist Ray Reser, biologist Patricia Zellmer, Doug Watson and Mork, the entire collection consisting of 1,278 pieces has been examined, photographed and identified. The collection is now on display.
“The collection can be used as a learning tool for people that have an interest in early American culture,” Towne said. “It can also serve as a reminder for the people that live here now of what the past was like for this land.”
The collection now belongs to the Iola Historical Society and will be formally dedicated in the summer of 2018.