Pardeesville: First Week Update

The first week has been exciting!. We have already learned a lot about the site, both from our excavations and from the many folks that have dropped by and offered a few stories about the site. Of course we know that our knowledge will inevitably be revised many times as the remaining five weeks unfold. 

As discussed in a previous post, this summer we are working on two adjacent house lots near the center of the shanty town of Pardeesville, formerly Lattimer 2. The plots measure about 30 feet wide and 130 feet long. Historic maps show each having small, irregularly shaped houses at the front of the lots abutting Scamper Street, formerly known as Church Street. We have several maps showing the outline of these houses between about 1885 and 1946. The map below, which comes from the map collection of the Lattimer Coal Company collected by Joe Michel, shows the lots in 1946. The names Dom Simone and Joe Cusat appear in this map. We know from folks we have met in the neighborhood that soon after this map was drawn up, the house on the right was occupied by the DeLorenzo Family.

 ImageThere are a few things we can learn about these lots from this map. First of all, the houses are irregularly shaped. From the footprints on these maps we can learn that these small houses were transformed throughout their occupation to meet the needs of the occupants. This means additions and subtractions added and altered throughout time.  Secondly, we can see how close the houses are to each other. There are only 2.5 feet between the two houses!

What we don’t see are the buildings or activity areas that filled the rear yards of the houses. To know this we would need either photographs, written documents, or archaeology to fill in these blank spaces.

For the last week, we began to systematically sample the entire landscape of both parcels to determine where to concentrate our search. We placed shovel tests straight up and down the two parcels. The next photo shows Bev Hendricks, Shannon Suresly and Camille Westmont completing this part of the project last Friday.ImageWe now have a snapshot view of what is underground across the site. We will use this information to plan our activities for the next few weeks. We found some areas with very deep soil. Many of our units hit deeply buried rocks in these lower soils suggesting their might be intact masonry and/or filled in architectural elements throughout the site. Artifacts have included a good amount of items we can interpret as originating in the late 19th century, the earliest occupation of the site, as well as materials from throughout the 20th century. These include such things as marbles, tobacco pipes, ceramics, and machine-cut nails. Our next step is to excavate larger units to explore some of these areas. Can’t wait for next week!

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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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2 Responses to Pardeesville: First Week Update

  1. Joan Lapinski says:

    According to the US Census of 1880, there were just a handful of Italian immigrants-the beginning of the great flow of immigration coming later. Most of the inhabitants were English, Irish and Welch. The 1890 Census was destroyed so there is a gap in the history of this town as well as the larger picture of immigration throughout the area. By the 1910 Census the number of Italian residents of Pardeesville was in the majority. My maternal grandparents lived in this town probably from the time of their arrival in the US to their move to Illinois around !905-1908 when their last child was born. My grandparents were Andro Kasperan and his wife, Anna Adam Kasperan. All their children were born in Pardeesville ranging from 1882 to 1904. My grandmother spoke of getting along very well with her neighbors who were Italian. My grandparents were Slovak- interesting that they were located in the midst of a predominantly Italian community. When the immigrants arrived, they were placed with a family to board with them until they were able to have a home of their own. My understanding is that the host families had little choice in accepting boarders (I have seen as many as 10 extra men living with a family. Hard to imagine where they slept in those houses which were very small.)
    From family experience, the coal companies began selling the rental homes that were in all the patch towns. My parents bought their company-built rental home in 1936 for $114 in Milnesville. The coal companies owned the land, built rental homes for their workers. They even built larger, better homes for the more ‘elite’ members of their hired people. In those early days, the poor mine laborers could not afford to build homes. This happened much later when they were able to accumulate funds to do so.

    • LM Project says:

      Joan, thanks for your comment! Great to hear about your family history. Interesting to hear about the Slovak/ Italian relationships in the town. Were you able to find your family on the census? Did you find any difficulties separating the Lattimer no. 1 family names from the no. 2? I would love to hear if you were successful. Please keep in touch and follow our page! Best, Mike

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