Special Edition Week 1 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.
First Week Special Report
Part I - Who's Who
The Team of Archaeologists
Part II - What's What
The archaeological work is being done by a team led by Dr. Stephen McBride of Wilbur Smith Associates of Lexington, Kentucky. Dr. McBride is known to many fort enthusiasts as the archaeologist who is working on Fort Arbuckle and who did a survey of the Forts of the Greenbrier Valley. He has also worked on three forts in Kentucky. His advanced degrees are from Michigan State University focused on historical archaeology.
Assisting Dr. McBride is another employee of Wilbur Smith Associates, Kurt Rademaker. Kurt is a graduate of the University of Kentucky who has worked in both the area of prehistoric archaeology as well as historical archaeology. He has done work in six states and been on a major dig in Mexico. The special talent he brings to our project is his love of and expertise in mapping. He is the one who is operating the total station survey instrument.
On most projects of this nature the team leader hires some college graduates who are working in the field as projects become available. Dr. McBride has two assistance who hope to continue studies in anthropology/archaeology. Cathy Karnes graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Anthropology and a major in archaeology. She did her field school in northern Israeal. Her most recent work has been on sites in New Jersey that included a mid-eighteenth century village and what is now a house museum. She enjoys working outdoors saving historic resources that might otherwise be destroyed and forgotten. She remembers being interested in archaeology as a high school student.
The fourth member of the team is Keith Heinrich. He graduated from Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA with a major in Western History and Archaeology. Among his recent projects was a survey of War of 1812 sites in Maryland. He also has experience in prehistoric archaeology projects including a dig in North Carolina. In all he as dug in the dirt in eight states and one foreign country; his field school experience was at Ashkelon in Israel. Kurt enjoys the "joy of discovery" and seeing things that no one has seen for hundreds or thousands of years.
A Lighter Look at the Week
Supervisor of the Week
The Editorial Board after careful consideration of the political ramifications of our decisions and thoughful analysis of the data presented has awarded the title of Supervisor of the Week to Mr. Ken Edmonds, one of the initiators of The Fort Edwards Foundation. Ken's tireless efforts to wring money out of even the tightest members of the community and his diplomacy and tack have made him on invaluable member of our team. His supervisory talents may be unique, but without members of such dedication, we could not succeed in our endeavors. Thanks, Ken.
Greatest Folly of the Week
This week's Greatest Folly award goes to Keith for trying to teach Hiedi, our project mascot, to sift for artifacts. Try as he might Keith did not succeed in trying to teach Heidi to find things in the dirt by sifting them through a screen. She already knows that a dog's nose is sharp enough to smell them without all the work of sifting buckets of dirt. Nice try, Keith.
Biggest Archaeological Tool of the Week
Yes, we can hear all those PhDs gripping that this is not a tool they ever learned about in school. However, after careful deliberations, The Archaeologist Editorial Board has awarded the prize for Biggest Archaeological Tool on our site this week to the sexy red, four-wheel drive Case 485. Since surface collecting is the approved method of initial investigation on this type of site, we have nominated the tool that makes that possible. This unit has electricly operated forward power drive for the front wheel drive and a roll bar for safety. The front bucket is an after-market addition which certainly helps with moving those stones the plow turns up. This picture does not show the attached eight foot pick-up disk that it is pulling to cut down those heavy clods turned by the plow. This makes seeing the artifacts much easier. Thanks to The Foundation's President for playing farmer for the day and helping out.
Bigest Brain of the Week
After carefully reviewing the academic credentials of the people who worked on site this week, from the PhD to someone crazy enough to jump out of airplanes, to tractor drivers and supervisors, and writers and artists, the Board reached a controversial decision. The award for Biggest Brain on Site has been awarded to the Pentax Total Station Survey Instrument. We could not find anyone who knew better than the Pentax were it was and where everything else was. Without the brillant calculating brain of this piece of equipment we would all be lost.
Incredible Find of the Week
Before we forget the subject of plowing and disking for the surface-collecting phase, we must note the Most Incredible Find of the Week. Now we know that everyone is waiting to find that Spanish silver coin or the sword hilt or tomahawk, but on the first day of the dig, while that powerful Case 485 was turning the damp, heavy sod, this artifact miraculously emerged from its place buried beneath the surface, and it was intact. Yes, it may be from the modern era, but this fragile light bulb was not broken by its soujourn underground nor by the process of plowing it up. The question is, "If it made it intact, why is everything else broken?"
Best Newspaper Article of the Week
The prize for Best Newspaper Article of the Week goes to Michael O'Brien and the Hampshire Review for the terrific front page coverage of our dig. We certainly appreciate all that the Review and its staff have done for us over the years. For a small foundation in a rural community it is a daunting task to inform the public of all that we are doing. Thanks to Charlie See and his staff for making the job much easier.
Best Prepared Worker of the Week
We had a PhD leading the team and three professional archaeologists, but the Best Prepared Worker of the Week was an ex-paratrooper who had sense enough to bring his own stool. The professionals were all "bucket sitters" but Jim Cawley sat in style as he sifted. Congratulations, Jim, on thinking ahead. We surmise all that jumping out of airplanes must have knocked some sense into you.
Volunteer of the Week
After days of observation and hours of thoughful consideration, the Editorial Board of The Archaeologist is stymied. We have no answer - an unusual situation for us. So we have taken the unprecedented move of awarding the final prize - the most coveted award we have to bestow - Volunteer of the Week, to everyone who came to help us on this important project. We can not pick a best worker. You all were wonderful. We extend our thanks to each and every one of you. May your next STP turn up a gold coin!
Visits to Our Web Site
We do not have a counter on these pages, but for those who wonder if anyone is watching here is a chart of visits to our web site for the past several months. As you can see a little "digging in the dirt" helps our popularity.