Like many Marion County farmers, Dallas Jost of rural Hillsboro sometimes wonders if the struggle to keep up with the farm, the full-time job, the land payments, etc. is worth it.
“I don’t know if the kids ‘get it’ yet, what makes this place special,” he said. “It’s hard to put into words, but it’s more than working the ground, planting and harvesting. There is a heritage here. When I find things like this arrowhead, it makes me wonder what went on here before our time; and I feel connected to it. I want my kids to feel that too.”
Jost, who lives southwest of Hillsboro with his wife Paula and youngest of three children — son Jake, has a collection of more than 20 American Indian arrowheads ranging in size from 3 or 4 inches to 1/2 inch long. All of which he found in a field that lies between two creeks on his farm.
“Finding these makes me appreciate the struggle to farm more, but what seems strange to me is that I have always found these on the south side of the boundary line between the creeks,” he said. “Maybe the creek shifted its path, or maybe when it floods, everything washes south and gets trapped by the ridges.”
The South Cottonwood River flows through Jost’s property from the northwest while Steinbach Creek comes in from the south. A large field that Jost usually plants to milo or beans lies in between, with two or three rises, or ridges.
“When the kids were younger we used to go out and look specifically for arrowheads and other things like pottery or bones,” he said. “Now I find them mostly when doing field work; something might catch my eye.”
Jost’s arrowhead collection is impressive, leaving no doubt that the artifacts are authentic. The colors of the finely chiseled pieces are different, however, leaving Jost to believe some were left by nomadic tribes or people traveling through the area.
“I’ve been told these could be from the Crow Indians,” he said. “But this reddish one is not from native rock around here, so who knows where they really came from?”
In addition to arrowheads, Jost and his family have found pottery pieces, scrapping and grinding stones, and even a musket ball.
“There are actually two main places we find these,” he said. “The arrowheads are more from the field between the creeks, but a lot of these other items we found at a sandy beach where the two creeks come together in a fork.”
Jost is the third generation farmer from his family to have an interest in the history of his farm. His grandfather, John B. Jost, purchased the land approximately 100 years ago.
“Grandpa had a whole case of these things, really nice arrowheads that he found here. He was really into the history,” Jost said.
Jost said an aunt and several cousins kept his grandfather’s original case of arrowheads. His father, Kenny Jost of Hillsboro, also took some interest in the history of the farm, but did not get as wound up about finding artifacts.
Jost said the farm’s history, along with Hillsboro area history, was recorded in a book by Raymond Wiebe of Hillsboro. The book, Hillsboro, City on the Prairie, was published by Multi Business Press in 1985 and recounts data from Native American Indian inhabitation in the late 1700s and early 1800s to the establishment of Hillsboro in 1871, and the following railroad growth through the area.
“I’ve been told there were meetings between railroad officials and the people who lived around here under a big cottonwood that stood at the fork of our two creeks,” Jost said. “That is where we have found a lot of artifacts and it could be that was because it was one of the only trees in the area to provide enough shade for people at that time.”
The tree no longer stands, but the creeks continue to meander through Jost’s property, and occasionally he still finds an arrowhead or two, or maybe a very old penny.
“I had some friends who came out once to hunt for artifacts and they found a large stone tool,” he said. “I’ve never found anything like that, but it’s interesting to image what could have happened here year’s ago.”