(in Dolley Collection)
SPAP Report No.MSM-F.4

PANTHER RUN (looking north from bridge on Mill Street in Raymond)

(Panther Run / River in Raymond drains Panther Pond into Jordan Bay of Sebago Lake near where State Route 85 joins US Route 302. Panther Pond is c3 miles long; and into it via Tenney River drains Crescent Lake, and into that via Rattlesnake Brook drains Raymond Pond. All drain into outer Portland Harbor via the Presumpscot River.)


This report supplements SPAP Report No.MSM-F.3, titled PANTHER POND PREHISTORY, wherein I focused on the Eleanor C Plummer Collection of prehistoric Indian artifacts, donated to Maine State Museum in 1998. Herein I discuss just one item – the only historic piece – in an otherwise very similar assemblage of Archaic Period stone tools: the Mira L Dolley Collection, given to MSM in 1981.

Like Miss Plummer, Miss Dolley was the last member of her immediate family to reside in her respective old homestead in Raymond Village (the two houses even stood beside each other on Mill Street), and each lady inherited (by default) generations of finds of Indian artifacts from Panther Pond & River, mostly tools of the Archaic Period (9,000 – 3,000 years ago).

While archaeological anthropologists comment on the basic similarity of the two collections, I, as an ethnohistorical anthropologist, rejoice in their difference: namely, that someone in the Dolley family had found a corroding iron flat-spiked tomahawk-head, supposedly somewhere on Panther Run (aka Panther River). This is an artifact of Colonial Frontier encounter, with all the dynamic aspects which that entails!


Trade-axes were routine items. Mass-produced under government contracts, in Europe or in the colonies, for trade or diplomacy with Indians, both Whites and Reds used them as belt-axes, for both tools and weapons. Even when the same basic pattern was used there was a range of variation among the separate individual items forged by the same maker, let alone among different makers. The simplest belt-axes had only one business-end, with the other-end for the haft-eye.

Tomahawks had more artistic blades at least, &/or had the haft-eye in the middle of two distinct business-ends. One end was an axe-blade, and the other end either a pipe-bowl (thus requiring a hollow-haft) or a spike. Pointed-spikes (round or square) were not uncommon, but my research finds that flat-spikes were quite uncommon. Indeed, I have found pictures of only three other flat-spiked tomahawks resembling the Dolley specimen. And the resemblance is remarkable, as also are the proveniences of the total of four.

One was found at Fort Ticonderoga in upper eastern NY state; it is believed to date circa 1730-1760 and be of French origin. It appears to be in fair condition. Its middle seems rounder and it appears to have less of an arch built into it than the Dolley specimen. However, the latter’s corrosion could account for much of the difference in the middles, and hard-use damage or heat could have bent its flat-spike downward. Range of variation could be a major factor, too, making for the possibility of even greater similarity.

In their photos, the other two specimens appear to be virtual twins of each other. Yet one of these two was sold at auction from the collection of a digger-collector who lived in Salem NY (c50 miles south of Fort Ti), and the other was in a collection from central Maine which is now at Maine State Museum. Both of these twins appear to be in good condition. Both have smaller middles than either the Dolley or Fort Ti specimens, and overall these twins appear the most graceful of the total of four, perhaps modelling a single pattern at its best, within the range of variation.


When we consider that the Wabanakis were “French Indians” and fought the English not only on the Maine frontier but also in eastern New York, and also that Massachusetts militiamen fought Wabanakis in those exact same locales, and earned land in Maine for their military service, then these four flat-spiked iron tomahawks might have a great deal more in common than just their similar format (said by a number of knowledgable persons to be a French style). More cannot be said, whatever might be thought – nor could I ask for more.

PANTHER RUN (looking north from bridge on Mill Street in Raymond)