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.
There 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.We 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!