Day 18: Finishing up/ Crew Bio: Bev Hendricks

We finished up three units today, carefully mapping in all the walls in order to record the depth and location of each layer of soil we excavated. We have two weeks left, starting on  Monday.  We are looking forward to starting fresh and well-rested on our new leads.

Here is a crew bio written by Beverly Hendricks, a student from Bloomsburg, who travels to the site everyday from her home in Shamokin:

Bev, with our friend Thor

‘Archaeology is always dirty, sometimes exciting, often tedious, interspersed with moments of joy’.  Mike Roller made that statement to our group on the second day of our excavation.  Since I had recently found a beautiful glass button that was intact, I had to agree with the first three points of his statement as I was definitely feeling excited.  As for the first two points, I had already realized the dirty part on our first day (I don’t think my white shirt will ever come completely clean!), and digging shovel test pits can definitely be tedious.  However I had yet to experience that moment of joy.

As a cultural anthropology major I had already done ethnographic fieldwork, expecting to graduate this fall I was hoping to find an archaeological excavation that I could participate in to help round out my fieldwork experience.  As a parent of a small child I was unable to participate in the excavation that Bloomsburg University (where I am currently enrolled) normally offers as it is in Ohio, and I couldn’t leave my son for six weeks.  Enter the fateful e-mail that was forwarded to all anthropology majors by our department.  After reading the description of the history of Lattimer, and finding that the site is only an hour from my home, I immediately responded to Mike, explaining my interest and asking how I went about applying to participate.  You see, it wasn’t that the excavation was close to me that drew my attention at first, it was the history associated with the site that did it.  My Pappap (Grandfather for those of you not from the coal region), was a coal miner who died from black lung.  My great-grandfather was a Molly Maguire, and his grandfather had immigrated from Ireland during the potato famine.  He came to the coal region as soon as he landed, not surprising since my Mother’s maiden name is Collier.  Clearly this was the perfect project for me to participate in, and I eagerly awaited the end of the spring semester and the beginning of the excavation.

Now as we move into our fourth week of excavation, I am amazed at what I am learning about the methods of archaeological excavation as well as the lives of the people that inhabited this small parcel of Lattimer.  At times it is a bit emotional for me, as it hits close to home, knowing that my own family experienced the same hardships, exploitation, and discrimination only a generation earlier. At the same time, the everyday items that we recover, the location and layout of the site, tells a story of the determination of a group of people to give their families a better life than they could have hoped for in the old country, just as my family had done.  So I continue to get dirty, experiencing the excitement of finding a pipe stem or large piece of ceramic with lettering or a design on it, holding that feeling through the endless digging and screening while finding only small pieces of glass. On Tuesday, June fifth, while troweling the bottom of our unit in preparation for a photo, I saw an object come flying up off of the soil. With heart beating I grabbed it and began rubbing the dirt off of it.  With much rubbing on clothing and a little water from my bottle, I was able to identify it as an Indian head penny dated 1901.  Moments of joy indeed.

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About LM Project

The LMP is a collaborative endeavor which aims to recognize the events surrounding the Lattimer Massacre, an incident that changed the labor movement and impacted the world by bringing to light economic disparities and ethnic tensions in the anthracite region of PA.
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13 Responses to Day 18: Finishing up/ Crew Bio: Bev Hendricks

  1. Richard Burkett says:

    Bev,
    I found your comments on day 18 very poignant. Having been born and reared in the Shamokin area I remember as a child frequently watching as hundreds of miners walked up from the Cameron Colliery at the end of their shifts. Today, the mine is gone, the area overgrown and all that remains is the huge culm bank that dominates the landscape. We are the heirs of their sacrifice and they would be very pleased and proud that you honor them with your work and gratitude.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    Richard Burkett

    • Bev Hendricks says:

      Thanks Richard, you are absolutely right too, we are the heirs of their sacrifice. On of the biggest changes in my whole perception is the culm bank in Shamokin. Instead of seeing a scar on the landscape, or a reminder of how the environment was polluted by the mining, I see a symbol of the blood, sweat and tears that the miners and their families shed to power an industrialized world. My hope is that I can pass that new insight on to my son. Though the rest of the world my have forgotten all the sacrifices, some of us will remember, and in doing that hopefully avoid a slide backwards with the current labor and union issues facing us today. Thanks again for your comment, it means a lot.

  2. Great post! I have my first taste of a dig. Check out my blog for details!

  3. Dawn Clark says:

    Very interesting article, Bev!

  4. Dale Gustitus says:

    Wonderful article Bev! Pappap would be very proud!

    • Bev Hendricks says:

      Thanks Aunt Dale! The whole project has made our families heritage more than just stories for me. It has made it real for me in a way that nothing ever has before, and makes me even more proud to say I’m part of the Collier family 🙂

      • Richard Burkett says:

        I share your chagrin over the current labor situation in the U.S.
        We have returned to the Social Darwinism of the Gilded Age and few seem aware or concerned.
        Richard Burkett

  5. Bev Hendricks says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more Richard. I only wonder how long it will take the majority of the populace to realize it.

  6. Joann G Ready says:

    Bev, This has nothing to do with this dig but more of digging into family history. Are you related to or know of a Peg and Ed Hendricks from Shamokin? They would probably be great or great-great lineage. Reason I am asking is that my mom’s grandmother was a Hendricks and their family was from Shamokin. She was wondering if any of her family is still alive. My email is joannr26@verizon.net.

    Great and exciting work you are doing. Must be fun!!

    • Bev Hendricks says:

      Hi Joann,
      Unfortunately I don’t think that I am related to them, my father’s family is from Ashland. I don’t honestly know if there are any Hendrickss’ left in the area that I’m related to. Though I have tried to start a family tree for that side of my family I haven’t progressed very far with it yet. However, if I do discover that Peg and Ed are on there I’ll be sure to let you know! Sorry I couldn’t be more help 🙂

  7. Pingback: “The more things change the more they stay the same”: A post from Beverly Hendricks | Lattimer Archaeology Project

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