Monday, September 30, 2013
We take a lot of photographs. Since archaeology is inherently destructive, it's important to be able to reconstruct how the site looked and what you did to it. Below, you can see photos of the feature before we excavated it. The trowel points north.
Sunday, September 29, 2013
I put this picture first because I thought it was a really cool photo (props to Laurie). Pat and I, working on STP 1, listen to Carol as she tells us what's what with soil types. We had just encountered our first traces of light-colored alluvial soil and wanted to know what it meant.
When I excavated at a site in Upstate New York, the sight of the yellowish subsoil meant that we had reached a sterile layer. We would continue to dig until no more brown organic soil was left, but there was nothing to find in the subsoil except fossils (which are cool, but not what we were looking for). In this case, given that the site was once beside a body of water, it's possible that there are more organic layers beneath the alluvium. Alternating organic and alluvial layers reflect the sequence of floods throughout prehistory.
On Day 3 we continued excavating STPs 1 and 2 and began STP 3, which has turned out to be the most exciting STP yet (probably not coincidentally, it is also the closest to the nineteenth-century St. Mark's Church, which no longer stands). You can see the team working on STP 3 in the photo below. See how rapt they are? That is what the prospect of NAILS will do to you. (Old nails are the best, especially when they're long and corroded. One nail found in STP 3 had a piece of brick stuck to it through corrosion.)
STP 3 contained not only nails but many other artifacts - including pieces of glass and brick - some which were found while digging, and others which were discovered while screening the dirt through a screen, as shown below.
Below you can see Carol looking for artifacts in the shaker screen (we now have two). The most interesting of our irrelevant (for our purposes) finds was a modern bullet. Also irrelevant: fifty million rocks. There were also some rocks that were not irrelevant, but I'll get to those in a minute.
Here are some relevant finds: a piece of glass and a nail ...
After they're discovered, dusted off, and (if it's the Sutton Hoo helmet, a nail, or something similarly momentous) shown to everyone at the dig, the finds go into specially labeled bags. We use small plastic bags to hold small and delicate finds (as shown below, to the right of the trench). These small bags get put in a bigger bag containing material from the entire level. Artifacts are important, but without context they lose much of their significance.
Context, in the case of a nail, would be the STP in which it was found, the level of that STP in which it was found, the coordinates of the southwest corner of the STP, the name of the site, and the location of the site (town, state). All of these details are part of the process of recording. I can't tell you how may times I've read this anecdote in some archaeological textbook:
"When [Famous Archaeologist] died, his house was found to contain hundreds of journals of notes from archaeological sites throughout his fifty year career, but because none of them were properly labeled, they were all USELESS. Archaeologists throughout the world responded by burning [Famous Archaeologist] in effigy and breaking his trowel." (I may be misremembering that last part.)
The recording of an archaeological site will never be perfect. Just today I sent out an email summary of our day's work to the team and received a correction from Laurie. It pays to have multiple people checking on the recording process because it increases the chances that someone will remember it right!
We think that these rocks may have been the eastern (front) foundation wall of the nineteenth-century St. Mark's Church. The exact location of the foundation walls is unknown. In the 1960s, some local residents who were cleaning up the cemetery arranged several dozen stray gravestones in the shape of a cross over what they believed was the footprint of St. Mark's, which had been demolished in 1916. The cross, which is still there (we spent part of the summer stripping the turf off of the grave stones, some of which have been returned to their proper places) suggests a location for St. Mark's that is slightly west of STP 3. However, the residents' approximation might have been wrong.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
As Day 1 was spent on the not very rewarding (but extremely important) work of laying out our baselines, we didn't get to break the dirt at all until Day 2. Above, you can see one of the three shovel test pits (STPs) we planned out at 20 feet intervals, five feet off of the EW baseline.
Below, Pat, Dene, and I are positioning the stakes using triangulation. I am convinced this is the hardest part.
While we were working on the STPs, John took some measurements around the church site with a corer. The corer can be used to find obstructions beneath the surface that may indicate a feature, a foundation wall, or (in our case) a buried gravestone. After comparing old photographs of the cemetery (taken around the 1890s) to its appearance today, Susan noted that many of the stones have gone missing; it's possible that they fell where they stood and were buried.
Back to the STPs. Pat, Claudia, and I excavated STP 1. As expected, the first two levels (including the topsoil) revealed hardly any finds at all. At the end of Level 2, however, we started to find large amounts of pea gravel that seemed to suggest we had hit the long path that once extended from the entrance of the cemetery to the nineteenth-century St. Mark's Church. This gravel was also found in STP 2.
Here, we use a Munsell Color Book to categorize the color of the soil we unearthed from Level 1. As an excavator, it is important to become familiar with the appearance and texture of soil as it will allow you to discern subtle changes that distinguish different strata or that may indicate a feature or some sort of disturbance caused by human action. Identification of the different strata (or layers) in an excavation - known as stratigraphy - is essential to understanding the chronology of the site and placing the artifacts and features in context.
Below you can see Claudia, Pat, and I working on STP 1 while Dene brings over a bucket of dirt from STP 2. All of the dirt was sifted through a quarter inch mesh shaker screen. In addition to the gravel, we found several small finds (in our unit, they were mostly from level 3), including pieces of glass and coal and one square nail (pictured below). STPs are great for obtaining a "snapshot" of the site underground. Since you can't dig the whole site (usually), and you don't want to dig randomly, you can use STPs to decide what areas are worth excavating.
Below you can see the aforementioned nail. It was a very exciting find! Our plans for Day 3 include completing our existing STPs and opening new ones and perhaps beginning the excavation of a possible dry well in between the St. George's and St. Mark's Church sites (I will try to get a map in here of some kind so that you can see how the two sites relate to one another).
|The team gathers at 9 am with our equipment|
We began on Sunday by laying out two baselines, one running North-South and the other East-West across the cemetery. This involved a lot of skill and knowledge and we were lucky to have Carol, an experienced archaeologist in the CRM (cultural resources management) field, to guide us. We were also joined by Eugene, another very experienced archaeologist who has been excavating in this area of the United States for 30 years. There is a wide range in the level of experience among our group, ranging from these seasoned professionals to those who have some archaeological experience but a lot to learn (like me) and to those who have no archaeological experience at all - but everyone has made a very valuable contribution to the work so far. I am very impressed with the energy, dedication, intelligence, and spirit that people have brought into the field and am very excited to see what lies ahead of us in the next weeks.
|Laying out the EW baseline|
Posted by Madeline at 5:31 PM
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Although it is labeled "Spencer Optical Works," the buildings in this photograph don't seem to resemble the other photos of the Spencer Optical Works that are at the historical society. I think it may have been mislabeled. Also, this photo appears to have been taken in mid-century, perhaps the 1930s or 40s, and I believe that the Spencer Optical Works buildings were no longer standing at that point. The sign outside the door on the first floor of the building says "J. Howard Co." Can anyone identify this place?
Friday, September 13, 2013
Recently, I showed you the piece of ceramic that I found in the dirt surrounding a broken gravestone in the cemetery. Now, I thought I'd share a little bit about the owner of the gravestone, Parthenia Sarles. The mother of nine children - only five of whom I've identified - Parthenia was born around 1788 and died at the age of 70 in 1858, outliving her husband Stephen by ten years.
Stephen and Parthenia's three oldest children - J. Merritt, Hannah, and Caroline - are buried in the cemetery. Hannah and Caroline, who were born in 1813 and 1815 respectively, never left home, but continued to live in the family's house on Sarles Street until their deaths in the 1880s. According to Caroline's obituary, the sisters "spent many happy days" together.
The census below is from the year 1850, when the sisters and their widowed mother shared their home with their younger brother Albert and an eight-year-old boy named Edward.
MISS CAROLINE G. SARLES
Miss Caroline G. Sarles died at her home near New Castle Corners on Friday last, February 24.
She was the daughter of Stephen and Parthenia Sarles, and was born in Sarles street, in the town of Bedford, on Feb. 16, 1815, and had therefore reached the advanced age of seventy-three years and eight days. Miss Sarles was one of a family of nine children, five boys and four girls, of whom only two were older than herself. Of this large family but three are now living - Mr. J. Merritt Sarles, of Middle Patent; Jonathan H., of Brooklyn, and A. B. Sarles of Greenpoint. "Aunt Carrie," as she was familiarly called, had lived all her life in or very near the town of Bedford, and with her sister Hannah, spent many happy days in the house which was her home until she died.
By industry and frugality she accumulated considerable property, and won the respect and confidence of a large circle of friends, by her firm principles and goodness of heart.
When quite young she united with the Methodist Church, and ever after lived the life of a true and conscientious Christian. Through a long and painful illness she bore her sufferings with patience, and her greatest wish seemed to be to make the least possible trouble for her friends.
The funeral service was held on Tuesday last, from the New Castle M. E. Church, and her remains were interred in the old Episcopal Church yard.
The sisters' younger brother Albert died in Brooklyn in 1894. Their older brother J. Merritt outlived his sisters and brother, dying in 1897.
Thank you to Mike for the information on Albert Baker Sarles!
- Stephen Sarles (1790-1848) m. Parthenia (1788-1858)
- J. Merritt Sarles (1810-1897)
- Hannah Sarles (1813-1881)
- Caroline G. Sarles (1815-1888)
- Jonathan H. Sarles
- Albert Baker Sarles (1831-1894)
Thursday, September 12, 2013
The two stereoviews above were taken by Lyman Beers Gorham. In the first, you can see the store of Lyman's brother George Gorham on the far right. Both stereoviews are part of the Jeffrey Kraus Collection. Thank you to Mr. Kraus for giving his permission to show them here and to Frank Wesley for sending the images to me.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
This pair of graves tells a sad story - of an aunt and niece who never met each other, but shared the same name, and both experienced untimely deaths. Anna Augusta Sherwood, born in 1844, was the daughter of farmer Abram Sherwood and his wife Susan M. Gregory. She died in 1869 at the age of 25. Annie Augusta Sherwood was the daughter of Abram and Susan's son Sylvester and his wife Sarah Elizabeth Sniffin. She was born in 1872 and died in 1893 at the age of 21. Anna and Annie are buried in the Methodist portion of the cemetery along with Abram Sherwood and Anna's sister Mary Frances, who died at the age of 11 in 1855.
Sadly, this was not the full extent of the Sherwood family's misfortune. In 1872, the Yonkers Statesman made the following report on the 25-year-old Sylvester Sherwood:
|Yonkers Statesman 2 May 1872|
As the census shows, in 1880 Sherwood was back at home with his wife and their two children, Anna and Vernon, but it would not be long before the family was driven apart permanently by Sherwood's mental illness. When he was not ill, Sherwood worked as a farmer and later as a teamster.
|1880 US Federal Census|
In April 1886, Sherwood sued his wife Sarah Elizabeth for divorce on the grounds of her adultery with the lawyer A. J. Adams, a boarder in the Sherwoods' house. However, the local community seems not to have believed Sherwood's claims, rather attributing them to "one of his hallucinations":
|Yonkers Statesman 19 April 1886|
A DANGEROUS LUNATIC
Sylvester Sherwood of Mt. Kisco While Insane Tries to Commit Murder.
Mount Kisco was thrown into a high state of excitement about 9 o'clock Tuesday morning by pistol shots in George Knapp's grocery store on Main street. Sylvester Sherwood, who had made repeated threats to kill Lawyer A. J. Adams, had tried to knock him on the head with a loaded whip handle, but was frustrated in the attempt, and the lawyer had fired the shots.
This was the culmination of an old feud. For the past eight or ten years Sherwood has accused Adams of having broken up his family, and has threatened a good many times to kill him. Since last Saturday he has been looking for Adams. Adams heard of this and consequently prepared for any emergency.
Tuesday morning Adams, who has his law office above the grocery, went into the store to retrieve his key. As he was going out of the door Sherwood crept up behind him. Adams heard him and told him to stop. Sherwood did not stop, and Adams pulled out his pistol, again telling Sherwood to halt or he would fire. As he did not obey, Adams fired a shot to scare him, but he did not scare. Then Adams fired another shot at Sherwood, and the bullet grazed the back of his right hand, inflicting a flesh wound.
Sherwood, who is known to be insane, was seized and held until Constable Quimby came and took him to the lock-up. Adams was allowed his liberty. When Sherwood was placed in the lock-up he raved wildly and said he would yet kill Adams.
Two years ago Sherwood's wife found it impossible to live with him, and she returned to her father, Benjamin Sniffin at North Castle in Westchester county. Sherwood has recently threatened to kill half a dozen residents of Mount Kisco against whom he has only a fancied grievance. He has been an inmate of the insane asylum six times.
Sherwood was Tuesday afternoon committed by Justice Crane to await the action of the grand jury of a commission to determine his mental condition.
Although it is clear that at this point Sherwood had been insane for many years, I have to wonder if this particular incident - in which he targeted a man he blamed for destroying his family - was precipitated by the death of his daughter (she died on May 5, and this report appeared on June 30). The reporter who wrote up the incident for the New York Herald seemed to think so:
|New York Herald 28 June 1893|
Not all of Sherwood's commitments to the asylum were involuntary. On January 4, 1889, the Mount Kisco Recorder reported that Sherwood had been feeling "rather low-spirited, and thought it would be best to take another course of treatment during the winter months" at the Poughkeepsie Asylum. If we can trust this short statement as an accurate record of Sherwood's mental state, it seems possible that he was suffering from what today would be called bipolar disorder.
During this time Sherwood's parents, Abram and Susan, were still alive and living on Sarles Street. They died in 1901 and 1910, respectively.
|Hudson River State Hospital (source)|
The 1900, 1910, 1915, and 1920 censuses all record Sylvester Sherwood living in the Hudson River State Hospital for the Insane in Poughkeepsie (pictured above). He died in 1921 at the age of 74. Unfortunately, the multiple reports on Sylvester Sherwood that appeared in local newspapers throughout the late 19th century don't give us much of an idea what he was like when he was not insane. The reporters, understandably, were more interested in the juicy story of "a dangerous lunatic" confronting a local lawyer than they were in understanding Sherwood's suffering. The brief mention of Annie Augusta's recent death in the New York Herald is the closest we get to empathy on the part of the press. From a modern standpoint, it's hard not to feel sympathy for a man who obviously suffered greatly - not only from his illness, but the ignorance of his community and the limitations of 19th-century psychiatry.
There is even less to indicate what Sherwood's family must have been going through at the time. Being the wife of a "lunatic" could not have been easy for Sarah Sniffin Sherwood, who was virtually a single mother throughout much of her son and daughter's childhoods. By 1900, with her husband committed more or less permanently, she had moved in with her brother Enoch Sniffin and his wife Caroline in North Castle. She died somewhat before 1913.
I can only speculate as to what Sherwood's children would have felt about their father's illness, but based on the fact that he was living with her at the time of her death, it would seem that Sherwood had at least something of a solid relationship with his daughter Annie Augusta, and that perhaps, at the age of 21, she had assumed responsibility for her father's care. It certainly seems likely that Sherwood was devastated by her death and plausible that his grief contributed to his mental instability in the weeks afterward.
As for Sherwood's son Vernon, it's impossible to know what relationship he had with his father, or if his own children, Frances (born 1910) and Vernon Donald (born 1916), ever met their grandfather. Vernon had moved to White Plains by 1900 and ultimately settled there with his wife Georgia, working as a motorman and a mechanic for a trolley company. Vernon Sherwood was a sergeant in World War II and died in 2006.
- Abram Sherwood (1812-1901) m. Susan M. Gregory (1824-1910) in 1840
- Anna Augusta Sherwood (1844-1869)
- Mary Frances Sherwood (1845-1855)
- Sylvester G. Sherwood (1847-1921) m. Sarah E. Sniffin (1848-)
- Annie Augusta Sherwood (1872-1893)
- Vernon Sherwood (1877-) m. Georgia (1880-)
- Frances Sherwood (1910-)
- Vernon Donald Sherwood (1916-2006)
Monday, September 9, 2013
And these photos show how it looked after I cleaned it off at home. Presumably the excavation of the gravestone base was done by the team, and that this object was packed into the ground around the base along with the stones (which include several small pieces of other gravestones). Was the object part of the original fill used to erect Parthenia's stone in 1858? (This is assuming that Parthenia's stone was erected in the year of her death. Sometimes stones weren't put up for years after.)
And, of course, what is it? I'm guessing that it is the base of a candlestick. The photo below shows the underside, which is clearly worn where the base came in contact with another surface. You can also see the number "179." and a small X. I'm sure that a ceramics expert would be able to tell when and where this object was made.
Saturday, September 7, 2013
The grandson of Oliver Knapp (and son of my late grandmother's close friend) Frank just alerted me to these two stereographic images in the digital collection of the New York Public Library. Both were taken by Lyman Beers Gorham, youngest of the Gorham brothers and professional photographer. The upper image shows the railroad station about 1880. The lower one shows a church - but which one? At first I thought it was the old Catholic Church, but it doesn't seem to match the image of that church that I have seen. Perhaps someone can help me identify it.
Friday, September 6, 2013
|George W. Gorham's store, courtesy F. Wesley|
The Gorham brothers were the sons of farmer David Gorham of Westport, Connecticut. His wife Sally, shown here in the 1850 census, was probably not the mother of George W. Gorham, who would have been born when she was 12. David and Lyman, who were born in 1841 and 1850 respectively, could have been Sally's sons. David and Sally also had two daughters, Julia and Sarah.
|1850 US Federal Census|
George W. GorhamGeorge W. Gorham was born in Connecticut in 1829 and married Mary A. Smith in 1851. He was a tinsmith and owned a hardware store in the village for 50 years; it was later taken over by his son John. Unlike his brothers, George Gorham was a Presbyterian.
|1860 US Federal Census|
As you can see in the 1900 census below, George and Mary Gorham had eight children, only five of whom were then living.
|1900 US Federal Census|
David Fletcher GorhamDavid Fletcher Gorham was born in Westport in 1841, and married his wife Emily Elizabeth in 1864. In 1880, Gorham partnered with Joseph Henry Crane to found a furniture store. Though Crane married Gorham's daughter Julia in 1882, the business partnership ended in 1883. Subsequently, Crane and Gorham each operated his own furniture store; Crane's is still in business today. My great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents have all bought furniture at Crane's furniture store.
|1880 US Federal Census|
|Grave of Infant Gorham (Source)|
Shirley B. Porter calls David Gorham an "enthusiastic prohibitionist." His 1907 gift to the village, a water trough topped by a statue of an Indian, is inscribed with the prohibitionist message "God's only beverage for man and beast." According to Porter, the area around the David Gorham residence was known as "Prohibition Park."
Gorham was a trustee of the village from 1880 to 1881 and a trustee of the Methodist Church from 1905 to 1934. He and his wife donated one of the stained glass windows of the church - with the message "To the Glory of God" - in 1919.
Gorham was also a Free Mason, and was elected Master Mason of the local Lodge in 1891, 1892, and 1893 - a position later held by my great-grandfather.
The Gorhams' only other surviving child, Edith Gorham, married Harry V. Fish.
Lyman Beers GorhamLyman Beers Gorham was born in Westport in 1850, joined the Methodist Church in 1873, and married Martha J. Reynolds, the daughter of Newman Reynolds, in 1878. In 1884, Martha gave birth to a son, Henry. He died on May 9, and Martha died on 1884. You can read my previous post about Martha and Henry Gorham here.
Lyman later married Sarah Hendrick and lived in Stamford and South Norwalk, Connecticut. He was a photographer and an engraver.
- David Gorham (1804-) m. (1) Unknown; (2) Sally A. (1817-)
- George W. Gorham (1829-) m. Mary A. Smith (1829-) in 1851
- Aaron D. Gorham (1852-1922) m. Charlotte L. Avery (1852-1913)
- Mary S. Gorham (1854-)
- George Starr Gorham (1857-1860)
- Lillian Harriet Gorham (1858-1860)
- John E. Gorham (1860-)
- Ralph Gorham (1871-)
- Fred Gorham
- Louise Gorham
- Josie Gorham (1867-1868)
- David Fletcher Gorham (1841-1934) m. Emily Elizabeth (1844-1928) in 1864
- Julia Gorham (1865-) m. Joseph Henry Crane in 1882
- Edith Gorham (1870-) m. Harry V. Fish
- Infant Son (1866-1866)
- Lyman Beers Gorham (1850-1927) m. Martha J. Reynolds (1851-1884); (2) Sarah Hendrick (1862-1919)
- Henry Gorham (1884-1884)
- Sarah Gorham (1853-)
- Julia Gorham (1856-)