SOUTH WINDSOR - Barney Daley, the unofficial town historian who gathered Indian artifacts locally for more than seven
decades and wrote a book on South Windsor history at age 89, died Friday. He was 98.
Daley worked as a machinist, builder, tobacco farmer, and equipment mechanic during his lifetime, but was best known for the jobs he did on his own time: historical researcher and archaeologist.
A lifelong fascination with South Windsor's history led Daley to accumulate a massive collection of arrowheads and other Native American artifacts dug from local farms and fields. It has become the Barney Daley Family Collection at Woods Memorial Library, and includes more than 5,000 bits of tools and other ceramics.
Daley began collecting at age 11, and continued into his 90s. But he had acknowledged in recent years that extensive development throughout town had left few unspoiled areas open for exploration. Professional archaeologists occasionally joined him on his ventures, and in the mid 1980s he self-published two books: "God's Acre," a guide to the town's oldest burial ground, and "Five Thousand Years at Podunk," a history of the Podunk Indians, who lived on the Connecticut River's banks.
"I feel that it's my little contribution to the town that gave me my education," he said at the time.
"He was very sharp, just a joy to be around," said Brian Rivard, president of the South Windsor Historical Society. "He remembered so much of the little tidbits and snippets of history."
Daley's daughter, Dorothy Konarski of Ellington recalled that in the 1950s, her father used to take the entire family out for walks after rainstorms. They'd go through the farms and open fields, hunting for artifacts that had been unearthed by the rain.
"As kids, we'd say, 'Oh, no, it's raining -- you know where we're going,'" Konarski recalled. "When you look back on it now, it was interesting."
Daley leaves his wife of nearly 66 years, Gladys Daley; a son and daughter-in-law, James and Arlene Daley of Irmo, SC; a daughter and son-in-law, Dorothy and Charles Konarski, Jr; and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Ed. note: To see a transcription of a lecture Barney Daley gave on his artifact collection, please click Podunk Artifacts.