Blacksmith tools preserved at Buffalo Island Museum

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Buffalo Island Museum has many tools used by early settlers on Buffalo Island. One of these is a blacksmith's anvil, donated by Johnny Steele. Blacksmiths have been around since 1500 BC. Blacksmithing is the art of shaping iron and steel with a tool such as a hammer. The word "blacksmith" comes from the metal that would turn black when heated and the old word "smite" which meant "to hit".

This antique anvil is among the tools used by early settlers on display at the Buffalo Island Museum in Monette. (photo provided)

One of the main tools that a blacksmith used was the anvil. The anvil provides a surface to pound and shape hot forged metal into tools, swords, horseshoes, etc. The very earliest anvils were made of stone or bronze. Early American anvils were made of wrought iron because other metals were too brittle to stand up to the constant pounding of the blacksmith's hammer. Most anvils today are made of steel. An anvil can weigh as little as six pounds to over three hundred pounds.

The anvil at the museum has a square hole called a "hardy hole" for holding tools and a round hole called the "pritchel hole" used for punching a hole. The cone shaped end is used to hammer metal into curved shapes. There is a foot attached to the base. The word "Acme" is stamped on the back (and "no" it didn't belong to Wile E. Coyote). In the early 1900s the Sears and Roebuck Co. had the exclusive right to sell anvils under that name.

Every town in early Buffalo Island had a blacksmith. He created the tools needed by almost every man. He turned iron and steel into horseshoes and crafted tools and pots, pans, forks and knives that were used in the home. Some Buffalo Island citizens remember Mr. Dave Evans and Oscar Carmichael's blacksmith shop in the 1950's near where Farmer's Market is today in Monette and O.R. Jackson's blacksmith shop at Black Oak.

Today blacksmiths mostly do custom work, but in areas of this country where there are lots of horses, you may find a blacksmith who still makes horseshoes.

The Buffalo Island Museum has many old farm tools. Looking at these old tools makes us appreciate the farm implements of today.

Buffalo Island Museum is open on Friday and Saturday 12:30-4:00. Admission is free. Visit our Facebook page for more information, pictures, and to enter our monthly BIM Mystery Artifact contest.

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