Neenah man makes historic find

NEENAH – A piece of history believed to be thousands of years old may have been found in the area.

A Neenah man says he found a copper spear tip, which is one of people’s original tools.

“My hands were shaking, I was pretty nervous,” said Don Westbrook of Neenah.

Westbrook says last week while metal detecting in the Neenah area, he came across something special.

“It is literally the oldest piece of metalwork by human hands that you can recover in North America.”

What Don Westbrook found is what experts say is an ancient Native American spear tip.

“They are from something called Old Copper Culture and they are from 6000 B.C. to about 2000 B.C. probably,” said Lawrence University anthropology professor Peter Peregrine.

Peregrine says artifacts like the one Westbrook found were used for weapons or as ceremonial items.

Westbrook says at first he wasn’t sure what he had found.

“At first I didn’t realize what it was until I started getting down there,” he said. “And then when I saw the green patina and the spear tip sticking out I knew exactly what it was and I was pretty excited.”

Westbrook doesn’t want the exact location where he found the spear tip revealed. But he said it was found in an area he has long wanted to search.

“Had a spot that for a long time I have wanted to hit, went back there and got a hit about 14 inches down, saw that it was copper. It was a good repeatable signal and I started digging it and sure enough that is what it was.”

His friend Justin Roberts was with him when Westbrook made what he calls the find of his life.

“He was very excited, a little jealous, I wish I was five feet in front of him before he found it,” said Roberts.

Westbrook says he has been metal detecting for about 10 years. He says he doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon.

“Honestly, I don’t think I will ever find something this good in my entire life, this definitely sets the benchmark.”

Experts say thousands of similar artifacts are buried around the area. But finding one is rare because they usually go undetected, buried deep in the ground.

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