Hello all, my name is James Kuzma and I am a dual major of Archaeological Sciences and Medieval studies at Penn State University. I was extremely excited when the word came around about this field school, ironically it was from another university. After reading Mike’s blog about the Lattimer project last year I was immediately interested in learning more about the project and the local region. I was so thankful for the opportunity Dr. Shackel and Mike Roller provided with this study. This was especially so when I realized how down to earth they really are and how much we shared the same curiosity of the region.
Although I go to Penn State at University Park I am from a small coal mining town called Mahanoy City. I believe this is the reason for my curiosity about the coal region as well as why I pursued the archaeological course. Growing up in an area that has a rich and at times violent history as well as a diminishing area was just the catalyst I needed to want to know more about the region. Where I am from is basically a dying area filled with remnants of “What once was” and the “good ol’ days”. I grew up hearing stories about this area from the
older population of the town. Believe me, if you ever want to hear stories about the good old days, become a bartender at or go to a local Elk’s Club! Needless to say, the mining industry left the vast skeletons of old buildings, bridges, and roads. When looking and exploring these relics of a bygone era I always found myself wondering; who lived or owned that, what was its purpose, and why was it abandoned? This train of thought made me realize that I wondered about those questions a lot and I knew I wanted to do archaeological work.
Sadly I was never aware of the Lattimer Massacre. This is probably due to the fact that the Molly Maguire incidents and history is very prominent in the Mahanoy area. Dr. Shackel and Mike’s project really gave me the opportunity to study my local area. I was surprised to notice that even with Pardeesville being 30 miles from my hometown, the people and the area was still very similar to my own. Being that this project is my first real field school experience, I was nervous going into it, but my fellow students as well as Mike and Dr. Shackel have really gotten along quite well. I really look forward to working with them in these next few weeks. Right now we are just getting into the older layers and soon the good stuff will be coming. I am particularly interested in the landscape of the house lots and the layout in which they were built. These laborers brought nothing to this country and tried to provide for their families by building the best shelters possible, all the while doing back breaking work. I know this project will shed some light on the life of these brave people.