Museum retires debt on collection

 

The Laurens County Museum celebrated its final payment on the Native American artifact collection of Dr. Robert Crawford with a drop-in reception Thursday night at the museum.

The collection includes more than 8,000 artifacts collected over more than 70 years by Crawford and joins a similar collection held by the museum donated by S.C. State Archaeologist Tommy Charles.

“Most of the time, these types of collections are split up when people die,” said Debbie Vaugh, a volunteer and former board member with the Laurens County Museum. “That’s not what (Crawford) wanted.”

The museum spent $100,000 to acquire the collection, most of which is from the Salisbury, N.C. area. The collection has been appraised at $380,000.

“The Laurens County Museum is fortunate to have acquired such a from Dr. Rob Crawford,” Charles wrote to the museum. “It might be asked why should a South Carolina museum care about an out-of-state collection? State boundaries are a European concept and have no bearing on the prehistory of the region. Archaeological date acquired from across the Southeastern Piedmont is important to understanding the prehistory of the entire region, not just the state in which it was acquired.

“The Rob Crawford collection of Native American artifacts is exceptional for its overall visual quality as well as its research potential.”

The reception was attended by Crawford’s daughter, Ginger Crawford Phillips, and her family, who live in Spartanburg.

Phillips said she is pleased that her father’s collection has remained intact.

Crawford began collecting arrowheads and other artifacts when he was 5 years old in the Salisbury area.

When he wasn’t finding those artifacts on his own, they occasionally found him.

“My father said one time that he was fishing, sitting back – he leaned back and felt something sticking him in the back, and it was an arrowhead,” Phillips said.

Crawford said she hopes the collection will be beneficial for the museum and an educational tool for students locally and statewide.

“We told our teachers at our school in Spartanburg to come to this if they wanted to – to bring classes,” she said. “To come here and have stuff that’s on a different level with Native American history is something that is totally different.”

Charles, who appraised Crawford’s collection, said the collection is a “representative cross section of these stone projectile points and blades covering a timeframe of over 13,000 years.”

“Dr. Crawford, in placing his collection at the Laurens County Museum, has demonstrated his faith in the commitment of the local community to construct a first-class museum for the benefit of not only the local citizens but for all the citizens of our nation. Those responsible for arranging this acquisition are to be commended.”

The museum has plans to have elements from both Charles’ and Crawford’s collections on display when it moves to its new location on the Laurens Historic Square later this year.

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