The Comanche County Historical Museum will be unveiling its newly acquired and extremely large arrowhead collection on Sunday afternoon, October 20, 2013. These arrowheads are the Lewis Shanks’ collection, and the museum is very fortunate to be the recipient of them.
Since I assume that most of you did not know Mr. Shanks personally, I thought I would publish the memories of Shannon Graham, son of Larry and Kay Graham of Comanche. Shannon is an arrowhead enthusiast who has created the largest online Indian artifact gallery in the world.
Although I always called them Mr. & Mrs. Shanks, Lewis and Myrt were another set of grandparents for me. My dad introduced me to Mr. & Mrs. Shanks when I was about eight years old. I remember riding down that dusty road to their house in anticipation of meeting “the arrowhead man.” I had heard so much about Lewis and his vast knowledge of the ancient people who settled Comanche County and when I met him, I was not disappointed.
That first visit was the beginning of a relationship that would last for years and include many weekend stays in their home getting my education while going on long walks with them through the plowed fields. I came to know the place well, taking in every word Lewis offered on where he found specific points and what certain features in the sand meant. We would end each day in Mr. Shanks’ artifact room, comparing our finds to ones he had previously made.
Mr. and Mrs. Shanks taught me so much. Mrs. Shanks instilled in me the importance of learning how to do things with my hands and taking pride in my work. Myrt’s father was part Cherokee and I recall her relating an incident about his needing an axe handle and, in no time at all, he had cut a green limb and carved it to fit his axe. This was a powerful message to a nine year-old boy
I remember being ten years old and bagging groceries at Red and White and getting so excited when I’d see the two-toned yellow and brown Ford truck pull into the parking lot. There wasn’t another pickup like it in town. That was when I got my weekly updates from Mrs. Shanks on what she had found during the week on walks to the mailbox, which fields Mr. Shanks had plowed and what he’d discovered after burning off a coastal patch.
When Mr. Shanks was no longer able to walk in the fields, the days turned to living room sessions where he would talk of his kinfolk finding arrowheads on the Rio Grande, his grandfather riding horseback from Proctor to Stephenville and hardly seeing any trees, and wading through chest-high grass. One day Mr. Shanks surprised me with a walk across a freshly plowed watermelon field. He shared that in this very place years before, while walking with a long stick and pushing it into the ground which each stride, he hit a piece of flint. After investigating the source of the sound, he pulled more than two dozen pieces of flint from a stored “cache” of artifacts. It was truly an amazing find.
I hung on every word Mr. and Mrs. Shanks shared with me. I learned much and credit my passion for ancient Indian artifacts to Lewis. I have tried to share this knowledge with others by creating the largest online Indian artifact gallery in the world. I credit my desire to learn and share to Lewis Shanks who taught me so well.
Be sure to join us at the Comanche County Historical Museum at 1:30 in the afternoon where the price of a donation will get you into the viewing as well as some of Henry Adcock’s famous pie, along with a host of other refreshments. To preorder a pie to take home, call Fredda at 325-280-9083.