Special Edition Day 6 May 12, 2001
The Fort Edwards Archaeologist
Unearthing the Story of Joseph Edwards's Home and Fort
Report on the Archaeological Excavations at Fort Edwards, home site of Joseph
Edwards and a French and Indian War frontier fort of Col. George Washington.
This archaeological excavation is part of the ongoing project of The Fort Edwards Foundation of Capon Bridge, West Virginia, to preserve, protect and iterpret the home site and fort site at Joseph Edwards's land grant on the banks of the Cacapon River in Hampshire County, West Virginia. This site represents both an early settler's home of the second quarter of the eighteenth century and a French and Indian War fort in Col. George Washington's chain of forts protecting the Virginia frontier. The excavation is under the direction of Dr. Stephen McBride of Wilbur Smith Associates of Lexington, KY. This page is one of a series of reports on the work.
Day Six - Volunteers and a Button
We also had announced that tours would be given during the day for any of our supporters and local citizens who might be interested. The public interest was a bit meek, but that did not stop the team from digging up some great artifacts and making headway on excavations.
The sixth day dawned with the threat of scattered showers, but that did not dampen anyone's spirits. We had a full complement of energetic volunteers who were determined to answer some questions before this first week ended. Well, at least they were going to try.
And Still More STPs
During the course of the day there were several activities that were conducted. First, the extension of the lines of STPs continued. These were placed in front of the house along the lines that had been begun days before as well as areas to the north.
The JMU team began an STP and enlarged it when it showed an unusual feature. Unfortuneately, when they enlarged it to see what it was, it became more unusual. As it is shown here there are trowel lines etched around the features to make them more visible. The shapes are very unusual and do not represent anything ordinarily recognized. In the upper right is a small circle. It seems to be the neck of a bottle buried upright. The team had to leave for the long drive home before the feature could be bisected, so we will have to wait another day of two to find out what this represents - if we can find out at all.
Bottle neck from feature above right.
Aside from the exciting activities of uncovering wonderful artifacts, the dull business must also continue. Our archaeological artist was hard at work describing the features of her enlarged STP.
Again we found a feature that seems perplexing. Feature #11 near the house has this rectangular feature in its upper left corner. One might expect a round post mark, but this shape is not common. Maybe Monday we will have time to find out what it is.
Where is the Stockade
While all these activities were going on Dr. McBride and Kurt were hard at work trying to figure out where the stockade might be or where Dr. Gardner's feature has gone. They moved out in front of the stockade like feature and dug a trench trying to intercept it. They hoped that the stockade had been interrupted by a gate or a building and would continue on at some point. Their efforts were in vain.
The forts of the Virginia frontier were not built to regular British military plans. They were hastily build by settlers and soldiers who had already experienced the savagery of the enemy's attacks. Although the forts built explicitly at Col. Washington's orders were probably built to a regular plan, most things on the frontier were done as time and materials allowed. The forts built on settler's sites may not have had much engineering expertise. This may make finding remains of forts like Edwards's a difficult matter.
Like the settlers of old, we are not to be put off by defeats and problems every now and then. Our energetic searchers just doubled their efforts. The dirt flew and the trench was enlarged in another direction. The search will continue.
Artifacts of the Day
Although we may not have made the best progress toward finding the outline of our fort, we made wonderful discoveries in some of the STPs. Our artifacts of the day include a large half-circle buckle, a fork and a button. The buckle in not dated yet. The fork is a kind found in the later half of the eighteenth century into the ninteenth century. The button appears to be an eighteenth century frock button, possibly from a military uniform. The white bordered insert is the opposite side of the button.
They may look rusted and bent, but they look wonderful to us!
Volunteers of the Day
Today we had a wonderful group of volunteers. Charlotte Brewster can't seem to get enough and was back again as was Jim Cawley. We had two old friends, John McKee, who seems to lie down on the job, and Greg Adamson who can not keep his hands out of "fort dirt".
Everyone should know John who is one of our regular costumed Feast attenders and a flintlock expert. Greg has been searching for forts for many years. Isn't it nice we can tell him definately where one is.
We also had some members of the Massanutten Chapter of the Archeological Society of Virginia join us today. They include Carol Nash (left) who teaches in the Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology at James Madison University and (clockwise) Janice Biller, Megan Angebine and Kay Veith. Greg is resting on the tree trunk and Heidi is about to steal Megan's sandwich if she is not careful. We welcome you all as members and supporters.
Although we usually only recognize on this page volunteers who get their hands in the dirt, we must take space to recognize another volunteer. This archaeological dig is only part of a larger project to preserve and interpret this historic site. As part of the mission to interpret the history, Bob Flanagan volunteered to be a guide for the public tours. We thank him for his knowledgeable explanations for our visitors. Don't forget to say wonderful things about us in your column in the Review, Bob.
The good guys always wear white hats.