Raymond P. Smith

Archaeology of Madison County -- Artifacts from the Madison County Historical Society and courtesy of Dr. Julie Zimmermann

 

Raymond Smith
Photograph of Mr. Smith in his Navy uniform before he returned home to Madison County.

 

Not much is known about Raymond Smith (died October 1900). He is a mystery man, but we do know of his service in the U.S. Navy. He grew up in Illinois and spent most of his adult life in Madison County.

Although information on the details of Mr. Smith’s life, family, and career are scarce, we can learn some solid facts about his interests and hobbies through his archaeology collection in the Madison County Historical Museum.

As an archaeology enthusiast and hobbyist, Mr. Smith shared his collection with his friends and family, but he did not make it public during his lifetime.

Raymond Smith's house
Mr. Smith’s rural home in South Roxana.

 

Smith’s Inspiration

Mr. Smith’s interest in artifacts started out like many others, by walking up and down plowed farm fields and creek beds. By doing so he found many Native American artifacts, which made his collecting hobby thrive. This stone axe (below) is a very common tool to find because stone is a durable material that can survive a lot of weathering. Such a perfect stone axe might spark his lifelong interest in archaeology due to its beautiful form and easily identifiable use.

stone axe
Stone axe. Native Americans used this axe for chopping or cutting various materials. The initials of R.S. written on the tip indicate Raymond Smith later became the owner. Material: Stone. Region: Ilinois? MCHS object 1990-001-0036.

 

Smith’s Collection

Raymond Smith’s collection is large, but with only 327 items it is not nearly the same volume as John Sutter‘s 3,000. The bulk of Mr. Smith’s collection consists of tools that prehistoric Madison County Native Americans used for everyday tasks. During his lifetime, he could find these types of artifacts in fields and areas of open earth throughout Madison County.

Types of Artifacts graph