Special Edition Day 13 May 21, 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.
Sorry for the delay in uploading; we had server problems. 5/22/01 11:35a.m.
Day Thirteen - Last Day
More Stockade - More Questions
See Special Report on Dig at bottom of page
The picture above left shows the end of the stockade trench as it looked early this morning. It is a question of whether it turns right or continues straight ahead. The second picture shows Dr. McBride with Greg and Kurt trying to find where it goes. It appeared to disappear.
Rainy and Smiley
The last day dawned cloudy and rainy. We did not report on it, but there had been some work done on the weekend. Everything exposed on the weekend will be seen today. The forecast was for scattered showers throughout the day. This did not stop our energetic crew who managed to smile in spite of the weather. Cathy and Keith went about their digging and sifting as though it was beautiful summer weather.
They were working on a burn feature. Very hot fires turn the earth an orange color.
We again had the expert services of Tracy Fitzgerald from Hampshire Homebuilders to cut through the sod and mud in order that we could answer a few more questions before the day ended our project for this year. It was very gooey going.
Orders for the Day
There were two items of business today:
1. finishing up on all open features; this meant making sure they were documented and mapped and covered with plastic awaiting reburial
2. following the open stockade feature as far as it would go and see if it had another section.
By the end of today this is what the end of the stockade wall with bastion looked like. This picture has some lines drawn to help you visualize what the area contained.
The double red lines show the outline of the stockade wall. The segment nearest the viewer has no end; it seems to disappear. The single red line in the background shows the triangular bastion and the wall turning to run to the segment in the foreground. To the right of the end of the wall are two yellow areas that may be burn pits. The wall runs east-west; the point of the bastion points north.
The picture below is of the area where Cathy is kneeling by the white 5 gallon bucket in the background of the picture above. At that point the bastion wall runs into a cellar feature that Cathy is working on. This picture below shows the bastion stockade wall outlined in red running up to the dark cellar feature.
Some of the stones may be from the foundation wall after it was filled in. Or they could be from a fallen chimney.
In this picture Kim McBride is drawing the foundation feature of a second building nearer the present house. The rocks protruding from the sides of the trench are part of the foundation.
Kurt and Kim spent time mapping features.
Another interesting but perplexing feature was this stockade wall segment that was inside the feature found by Dr. Gardner. It is somewhat broken and irregular and has several post marks around it. We do not understand what it represents. The picture above is to the south of the picture below. They are two parts of the same feature.
Another segment of stockade was found running from the spring toward the house. We did not have time to see what it did as it approaches the spring or the house. The stain of the stockade is very dark near the spring and it gets harder to see as it approaches the house.
Artifact of the Day
The Artifact of the Day are pieces from a redware milk pan. These are among the larger pieces found at the site. You will note that we have not found any items considered valuable by antique dealers. We are not disappointed because our artifacts have a different kind of value. They are important to us because they can be used to date the layers where they were found and because they reflect the style of life lived at the home and fort of Joseph Edwards.
Volunteers of the Dig
Special Thanks to Charlie Parker, Fred Berkeridge and Steve Whitacre for helping prepare the area for our project.
Thanks to our School Program and Public Tour volunteers: Jean Kesner, Charlie Parker, Charles Hall, Roberta Munske, and Bob & Julie Flanagan.
Again we thank everyone who gave of their time to help on the dig: Greg Adamson, Megan Angebine, Ruth Berkeridge, Janice Biller, Charlotte Brewster, Jim Cawley, Ginny Householder, Greg Kenney, Jim Lancia, Mark Lore, John McKee, Becky Moore, Carol Nash, Buck O'Brien, Nancy Pfaff, Isabel Plowright, Mike & Judy Rose, Mary Sears, Becky Szabo, Kay Veith, Mable Voit, and Jake Wysopal.
We would also like to thank the archaeological team: Stephen McBride, Kurt Rademaker, Cathy Karnes and Keith Heinrich. We appreciate all your work and your smiles in the rain. Keep in touch and come visit us sometime when we open. We also appreciate the visit from Kim McBride who shares her husbands passion for the frontier forts even if they are a pile of mud on a rainy day.
Forgive us if we have left anyone out.
Preliminary Report of Archaeological Excavations at Fort Edwards, May 7-21, 2001
Although a full report of the work prepared by Stephen McBride will not be forthcoming until September, The Fort Edwards Archaeologist would like to summarize what has been studied and learned in these two weeks of work.
1. After assessing the artifacts collected around the house it appears that the present house may not be aligned as the original colonial settler's house was aligned. The older house may have faced the river rather than the road as the present house does. Two trenches dug by the foundation wall did not reveal any information about the date of the present structure. We still believe that the present structure dates from the early half of the nineteenth century.
2. The team relocated the north-south ends of Dr. Gardner's possible stockade line. The south end of the line is very shallow and tapers to an end suggesting that it has been badly damaged by sever erosion and plowing. The true south end of the feature is likely destroyed. The north end of the feature is much better preserved and has clear post-molds within it (unlike the south end) suggesting that it is indeed a stockade line. At the north end the stockade trench also widens suggesting a possible gate. Whereas the 1990 excavations were not able to prove this feature was indeed a stockade, we now believe that it is.
3. There appears to be another stockade-like feature roughly parallel to the trench found by Dr. Gardner. This second feature is east of the first trench. Its is not as long, but its length has not been positively determined. No suggestion has been made as to the purpose of this segment of stockade.
4. There is a stockade wall with a triangular bastion north of the other features. The orientation of this wall appears to be on the compass bearings of east-west with the bastion pointed north. At one point there appear to be two fire pits beyond the line of the wall.
5. The wall with bastion runs to a cellar feature with surrounding stone foundation wall. It appears that a house with stone foundation abutts the wall, but it has not been possible to determine the age or relationship of these adjacent features. This foundation wall appears to be oriented to the compass directions: N-S, E-W.
It is interesting to note that Col. Washington does suggest that a compass and chain be used (if available) to lay out the forts. This may suggest that this particular section of the work at Edwards was done by the Virginia Regiment and not primarily by Joseph Edwards and his neighbors.
6. There appears to be a second stone foundation near the first. Its orientation and size have not been determined.
7. Another section of stockade wall was discovered in the vicinity of the spring.
8. There are a number of post marks and other features around the site, but until they are mapped and further excavations are done, it will not be possible to determine their use.
9. In all there were 50 new features located above Dr. Gardner's seven features. It appears that three features were backfilled during the French and Indian War era. Three others were probably filled in the late 18th century.
10. A good number of artifacts were collected and many were found in strata that will make dating easier. There was a wide variety of artifacts collected which will help in interpreting a broad timespan of occupation. Also the bones that were recovered will help in determining the diet of the inhabitants.
The Fort Edwards Foundation is very pleased with the work that was accomplished during this last two weeks. The verification and continuation of Dr. Gardner's stockade line as well as the discovery of the northern stockade with its bastion and a section near the spring shows us that this was a well fortified site of the Virginia frontier some of whose sections were most probably built by soldiers under Col. Washington's command. The discovery of two hitherto unknown buildings is also of great importance.
The Foundation has always stated that this project is only part of what will be a long-term investigation of this unique and important colonial site. With the information gleaned from this year's work, it is hoped that we will be able to secure funding to continue our search through the coming years. It will take a great deal of time, money and dedication to complete the story of the home and fort of Joseph Edwards along the banks of the Cacapon River. We look forward to your continue interest and support.
If you have enjoyed this series of daily reports we invite you to become more involved in the project to preserve and interpret the site of Joseph Edwards's home and fort. You may go to the membership page for an application. We would appreciate your financial support of this unique project. Thank you.
Editor's note: This concludes this series of reports. Please click on the link below to see a condensed edition of the final archaeologist's report.