Local guy donates Native American artifact collection

From WTOL media partner Perrysburg Messenger Journal:

by Jane Maiolo

When Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger was offered some Native American artifacts for the park system, he accepted with no hesitation. The only stipulation the donor put on the items was that they are to remain in Wood County.

Recently, Mr. Munger met with the collector to accept the items on behalf of the park system.

Phil  Kurfis, 91, of Mandell Road, presented Mr. Munger with several old cigar boxes and other containers of artifacts, ranging from sharpened stones to arrowheads to a uniquely carved pipe.

In the 1898 barn of his homestead, Mr. Kurfis explained that he began gathering the items as a child, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, both of whom had collected treasures while cultivating the fields during the early 20th century.

In those days, farm fields were tilled using a horse and plow with the farmer following closely behind, he recalled. Like his relatives, Mr. Kurfis discovered many of the items while working in the fields.

His memory of where he or his family found the artifacts is clear. Picking up a stone pipe carved on one side to resemble an owl, he said, "This was found at the corner of Buck and Lime City roads. My grandfather found it while digging potatoes."

Another which appears to be a large broken arrowhead came from a farm Mr. Kurfis tilled. That acreage now houses the Walgreens distribution center. One of the artifacts was even discovered by his dog. Holding up different stones, the retired farmer talked about how each one was used.

He believes a round rock, shelled-out in the center was used to mix paint, possibly war paint. The Native Americans made the paint from berries that were native to the region, he added.

Mr. Kurfis picked up a rock known as a "hammer stone" which could be used to grind grain or for building. He referred to another rock, sharpened at the end, as a skinning stone, noting that it likely was used to skin animals.

Most of the stones appear to be river rock, but some, particularly arrowheads of varying sizes, are made from  a different type stone.

"Some of this looks like granite," said Mr. Munger.

The park director plans to have the artifacts analyzed to determine the rock type. He also will conduct historical research to determine the exact use of the items.

Longtime friend Dick  Goecke of Rossford said Mr. Kurfis enjoys hunting for treasures. "He always kept his eye on the ground, looking as he hoed the fields by hand."

Mr. Goecke remembered a find several years ago at Bassett's Market in Perrysburg. His friend had discovered an old class ring.

Research revealed that it had belonged to a Perrysburg graduate who had died in a car accident. The ring was subsequently given to his mother.

Although his days of hunting artifacts are over, Mr. Kurfis is pleased to see that his treasures will not be forgotten and will have a new home at the park district.

"We will display them at various county spots," said Mr. Munger.

With the display, the park district plans to create a marker noting the contribution by Mr. Kurfis.