Special Edition     Daily Report    October 8, 2004


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 second major archaeological excavation is part of the ongoing project of The Fort Edwards Foundation of Capon Bridge, West Virginia, to preserve, protect and interpret 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 McBride Preservation Services of Lexington, KY. This report provided by The Foundation.


Daily Report, October 8, 2004


    It was a cool and misty morn as they began to dig in search of treasure. Well, forgive us but all good mysteries are supposed to start with a poetic opening sentance. 10-8-07w.jpgIt was cool and misty, the start of a beautiful fall day in the Cacapon River Valley of Hampshire County, West Virginia. Just the kind of day that must have thrilled Joseph Edwards and other early settlers over two hundred and fifty years ago.
    Unfortunately, the opening day of a dig is not usually exciting. For us it required hours of work uncovering features found in the 2001 excavation. The plan for this dig is to go back to many of those features and try to discover more than our earlier dig had revealed. The photo on the right shows Ann Wilkinson uncovering the black plastic sheeting that protects a feature exposed three years ago and then covered over. Because of the number of features to be exposed and the depth of the plowzone to be removed, a backhoe was used, but the work was always supervised by an archaeologist to make sure that nothing below the plowzone was disturbed.

    Not all of the archaeology crew had arrived including our survey expert, so Dr. McBride used a tape measure and compass to find the features marked on the map. In order to determine the extent of some features as the backhoe uncovered the area visited three years ago and then slowly expanded the search area, Dr. McBride used a core tool to see what lay below the plowzone. Using this tool it is possible to make only a minimul disturbance of the feature.

These photos show the long, thin coring tube with a sharp end that digs into the ground and the open side of the tool that allows inspection and removal of the core sample. The small hole in the gound by Dr. McBride's shoe shows how little damage one does with such a tool. 10-8-17w.jpg 10-8-19w.jpg

Visitors for the Day
    Our site is not open for public tours but ocassionally we have special guests. Today we welcomed Maggie Clouse, National President of Children of American Colonists (pink stripped shirt) and her mother, Sharon Clouse (Daughters of American Colonists) and Maggie's siblings: Meredith (blue stripes), Mallory (orange shirt) and Mitchel (red & black shirt). Maggie has chosen to have Fort Edwards for her special project. We look forward to her presentation on our unique colonial American site.

Artifacts of the Day
    Since we had not really uncovered any features below the plowzone, our artifacts today covered several eras. The pottery shard is salt glazed stoneware probably made in America in the ninetheenth century. It has a wonderful greenish color with some sort of colored design and nice grooves that accent the neck. It is not considered unusual since so much of this type of ceramic was produced. The spoon is copper probably once silverplated; age unknown. We will try to decypher its maker's mark when it is cleaned. The bone-handled, three-tined fork is also common and could be from the Civil War era. These remind us that our fort site has continually been home to Hampshire Countians since before the county was founded 250 years ago this year.

Mystery Artifact


    Our mystery artifact is this metal piece that probably comes from some type of farm equipment. We may never know what it is. Any guesses?

    We received an email from Christopher Witmer explaining the origin and use of this mystery artifact. It is a "fat lamp" that was in use before the era of whale oil lamps or kerosene lamps. The bent arm once stood up directly. The lamp was fueled by lard, tallow or some type of oil. For those who have seen the oil lamps from biblical times (round bowls with a snout for the wick) it should have some similarity.


Digger of the Day
    Our "Digger of the Day" is Jeremy Oates, the backhoe operator from Hampshire Homebuilders. We thank Jeremy for the patience he showed while digging up small bits of trash and plastic in a big field. We also thank Hampshire Homebuilders for being such good neighbors and helping out with special assistance on several occassions.

Picture of the Day


    Unfortunately, a web-compressed photo processed on a laptop LCD screen does not do justice to the beauty of the day. We include this poor example just to give you some idea of how colorful and peaceful our day was. We hope for a week's worth of such colorful autumn days ahead. David McBride is seen screening dirt searching for artifacts.

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Report for October 9, 2004

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