Friday, August 15, 2014

FPAN NEC Team Stats!

To kick-off our first official consolidated year, and in keeping with our World Cup Fever (I'm only about a month late on both of these...), I thought I'd give everyone the stats on our NEC (Northeast/East Central) regional players! Go team FPAN!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Monday Morning Book Review: I Lay My Stiches Down

My favorite place to browse is the book room at National Council of Social Studies.  This year, I Lay My Stitches Down caught my eye.  As I open most books at NCSS I'm wondering if its a good fit for what we do, archaeology education and outreach.  From the first page the book delivered with a resounding "yes":  

The finds of archaeologists beneath dilapidated cabins down the hill: some chicken bones, the skins and skulls of coons and squirrels--hard remains of suppers stalked by moonlight, faith, starvation.

Re-reading Cynthia Grady's I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery with rich illustrations by Michele Wood I'm struck how nearly every page harkened me back to an archaeological discovery made in the field or in the lab. 

Log Cabin

Many of the thoughts to follow are related to the Kingsley Plantation site northeast of Jacksonville in Florida.  Kingsley is the birthplace of Plantation archaeology, and for a description of this subfield I can't think of better phrasing than the author's own in the first poem "Log Cabin":

Archaeologists excavating the areas where enslaved Africans and African Americans lived have discovered artifacts that resemble ritual objects similar to those used in West African religious practices.  These artifacts have been found buried in symbolic arrangements and clustered near doorways and chimneys--thresholds for people and spirits.  

Archaeologists from the University of Florida's Archaeology field school unearthed and recorded numerous objects in and around the tabby slave cabins that related to African identity and practice of religion.  Historically people enslaved by Zephaniah Kingsley were allowed to practice their faith and express their traditions more so than at other historic plantation sites. 

Cotton Boll

This illustration depicts a woman stitching together quilt squares using needle and thread, as the accompanying poem tells of the woman stitching to the beat of music from Africa.  When we find a needle in the field or lab it is difficult to imagine the textile produced or activity directly related to the artifact.  Even harder to imagine is the context that work took place in, that there might be music to sew by, perhaps like sea shanties provided a tempo to row.  Sew shanties?  The range of emotions possible while crafting from cotton, "dangling by a thread that been spun like cotton fiber grown and pinched on this hell place," yet, "[b]efore I know, I'm rocking with the rhythm of the stitching, humming low the melody of 'Gilead."

Items related to sewing are frequently recovered from archaeological sites, including bone needle cases, needles, thimbles, scissors
Needle case made of carved bone (Source: JeffPat 2011).

Archaeological evidence of sewing (source: ConnDOT 2013)

Bone needles dating back 13,000 years ago found in France (Source: BBC gallery via Roberthorvat30).

Underground Railroad

The image Michele Wood produced, inspired by the Underground Railroad poem by Grady, brought to mind the idealized image of slaves escaping by boat.  While the 1864 image is problematic, we use it to illustrate the potential importance of simple flat boats (barca chatas) used in escaping to Florida's swamp and marsh.  I prefer Wood's illustration as the image does not evoke pastoral calm, but panic, fear, and urgency.

In my former life, working in Kentucky, I often had to respond to calls related to potential Underground Railroad sites.  This was difficult, as good hiding spots leading escaped slaves across the Ohio River to freedom would not be obvious.  Unless a site had good primary and secondary sources to authenticate a claim, archaeologically this could not be done.

In Florida we have a different story.  People escaping slavery in the immediate area bordering Florida often ran south, not north.  The Spanish operated a different system of slavery.  In one case, the Spanish Governor in 1738 gave sanctuary to Africans that fled English Carolina colonies.  Ft. Mose became the first free African settlement in the United States.

Print from Harper’s Weekly, April 9, 1864 from the Mariners’ Museum via Smithsonian)

Broken Dishes

 While many more entries brought me back to plantation archaeology projects from my own of the past, I particularly loved the "Broken Dishes." This poem finds a slave hurrying through the house falls over and the plates she's carrying are thrown in the air: "Lord, those flyin' plates look like angels."  I worked for years excavating the slave cabin area at the Ashland Estate, home of Henry Clay.  It often surprised us the quality of the ceramics used in the slave area.  We believed dishes from the main house were regularly passed down and used by house slaves that lived in the vicinity.

In addition to excavating the slave cabin area we spent many years excavating Henry Clay's 20 x 20 foot privy (outhouse), during which we found monogrammed "C" dishes broken into many pieces (see image below).  The porcelain sherds remarkable match the description in Grady's poem: "A heap of gold-rimmed plates brighter than the halo."  While the poem interprets a potential fall by the house slave as the cause for the breakage, in the case of the Ashland privy the breakage was more likely due to a mass house cleaning episode where old trash from the Clay's was discarded before the new inhabitants (the Bowman's with monogrammed B plates) move into the house.

The poem ends with the woman saying, " I'spect tomorrow be the fields for me."  We did have evidence that supported the notion that there were domestic slaves used nearer or in the house, versus those work worked and lived closer to the fields.  We never did find evidence for the field slave cabins, the footprints and artifacts likely destroyed by development.

Gold-rimmed dishes recovered from Henry Clay's privy (Source: KAS).

Final Thoughts

 For integrating poetry, music, history, and even archaeology to draw emotion from the reader on every page, I highly recommend this book for classroom and outreach programs.  The book contains 11 poems with corresponding rich illustrations.  In addition to notes by the author and illustrator, a brief introduction and further reading list are offered.   I recently learned of a quilting workshop put on by the Public History Center in Sanford and thought of this book as one of the many tools we can use to bring the past to life through material objects.   

For more reading on Kingsley and the archaeology check out the Project Archaeology curriculum done in partnership with UF, NPS, and FPAN.  For more on quilts and slavery read Barbara Brackman's Facts and Fabrications: Unraveling the History of Quilts and Slavery, 2006.

Text: Sarah Miller, FPAN staff

Cover image and excerpts: I Lay My Stitches Down by Cynthia Grady with illustrations by Michele Wood, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2012. 

Other images: Kingsley interpretive panels developed in 2008 by UF, NPS, and FPAN staff, installed on site at Kingsley Plantation. Other sources referenced in image captions.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Searcing for Zora: The Dust Track Heritage Trail

Zora Neale Hurston was an amazing woman, and quite a role model. She not only wrote amazing literature -- she studied with Franz Boas, taught school, worked as an anthropologist in turpentine camps in Florida and on several island in the Caribbean, reported on murder trials....and much more! To learn more about this awesome lady, I visited the Dust Track Heritage Trail.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

FPAN Summer: Libraries and Summer Camps!

It's summer (like you didn't know that already) here at the Northeast FPAN office and in the rest of the northern hemisphere. But for FPAN staff, that means a whole lotta library programs and summer camps.

A crowd of over 75 children and adults gathered at Crescent City library for summer reading programs

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ceramics 101: Majolica- Morisco Tradition

Day 4: Majolica! Part 1 of 10* (kidding, not kidding)

Mother load of majolica (Bense 2003).
So exciting you guys, this was the reason I started the #ceramics101 blog.  Moving to Florida from Kentucky I was curious, intimidated, and awestruck by the alien specimens.  To gain familiarity I leaned back on an old grad school trick: flashcards.  I made up at least 100 of these (and by I, I mean intern Matt Armstrong) and began to flip through them day and night.  Cards are good, but looking at real sherds with Kathy Deagan was a dream come true.


Monday, July 7, 2014

More Majolica Manicures: Aucilla Polychrome & How To (Steps 1-13)

Earlier this year we put together our first PechaKucha for Florida Archaeology Month.  Ryan talked about what to wear (or not) in the field, Kevin gave an ode to his trowel, and Emily Jane looked at archaeologists obsession with beer.  My contribution was 20 slides/20 seconds each talking about the whats and whys of Majolica Manicures.  

Monday, June 30, 2014

2014 Field School Notes

By now, most of our local field schools have wrapped it up for the summer. I got the chance to visit UNF's excavation at the Grand Shell Ring and UF's excavation at Bulow Plantation. Here's some notes from each!

Grand Shell Ring
This shell ring, on Big Talbot Island in Jacksonville, is the only non-Archaic shell ring on the East Coast! Wo-ow!! It dates to the Mississipian Period, between AD 900-1200. It is about 60x75 meters and about 1 meter high. The shell ring is made of lots of shell, animal remains and a few scattered artifacts like pottery. There's also an adjacent sandy burial mound at the site.

Sorting through lots of shell and faunal remains!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

More Majolica Manicures: San Elizario for SAA

Since the first Majolica Manies post back in February 2013, I've added quite a bit to my repertoire.  And some for very good reasons.  Over the next few weeks I'll be loading up at least 7 more #MajolicaMani, so keep checking back.  And we love FAN NAIL: do your own archaeology inspired manicures and send them to me at @fpannortheast or @semiller88 on Twitter.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Florida Historic Cemeteries and Shells!!

The Shells of Historic Cemeteries in Florida

In the coming months, I’m beginning a “shell project” at San Sebastian Cemetery in St. Augustine. Back in November, Sarah and I visited the cemetery to evaluate local upkeep and management efforts. The story begins with Sarah pointing out a really large conch shell lain at the base of a headstone near the cemetery entrance. My first reaction was that of surprise; it was a helmet conch (Cassis madagascarensis), which does not typically range north of the Florida Keys because of temperature thresholds. Thus, my first thought was wondering how it found its way to a northeast Florida cemetery.

The Helmet Conch that started it all...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

CRPT Conference Bonanza!

This past week (June 3-4) FPAN West-Central and FPAN Northeast co-hosted the first-ever CRPT conference in the Thomas Center at the University of Florida, Gainesville. The 2-day program was broken into field and presentation components, respectively. Despite being the inaugural--and experimental--CRPT conference, the sessions ran smoothly, and the meetings were a huge success.

Day 1
The morning session of the first day took place at Evergreen Cemetery, and included numerous demonstrations:

Kevin Gidusko, FPAN-EC staff demonstrates how GPR works

Friday, June 6, 2014

Cemetery a Day in May: Pablo Cemetery (Duval County)

Cemetery log date: May 17, 2014

Hello there #CaDiMers! You're looking lovely today. I'm really excited to tell you about Pablo Cemetery, near Mayport, FL, as it was the site of our most recent CRPT training. It has also been known as the Mayport Cemetery, and  originally as the Dewees Family Cemetery. Recently, both research and preservation have become hot topics at Pablo. As a local and descendant, Janet (last name) began the "Andrew Dewees project", making lots of new discoveries regarding the cemetery's complex history. She has spent years pouring over genealogical records and historic maps to uncover the true nature and extent of the Pablo Cemetery.

 Like many historic cemeteries in Florida and elsewhere, the modern fences are probably not an accurate representation of the cemetery limits (i.e. it's not unlikely that there are burials in other areas extending beyond the road, fence, etc.). Recently, Dr. Gordon Rakita of the University of North Florida (UNF) has joined the project to assist with defining the site boundaries and potentially locating unmarked burials and submerged monuments with a GPR unit. He also was present at the CRPT training and performed a GPR demonstration in the field.

CRPT Participants pose for a group shot at Pablo Cemetery 

Founding members of the Mayport region, notably including the Dewees family and relatives, Yellow fever victims, and others.

Participants try their hand at GPR data collection

Pablo is a privately-owned community cemetery just outside Mayport, FL. There is a "Mayport Cemetery Association" that maintains the cemetery.

After D2 cleaning 

The earliest known burial dates to 1881, although it's not unlikely that there could be older unmarked graves. It's also possible that nearby tributaries of the St. John's River could have swallowed an early section of the cemetery, as historic maps indicate they once flowed much closer to the modern site boundaries.

Pablo is located at the south end of Sand Castle lane, south of Wonderwood Drive. The address is technically Jacksonville, though the cemetery lies near the Mayport city limit.


-Andrew Dewees and family are buried there, pioneering settlers of the northeast Florida area around Mayport

-Lily Thomas--a lady who lived to be 108--was a Singleton of the local fishing company in town

-The cemetery has an interesting and complex history. It's known that yellow fever victims were buried there, once identified by wooden markers that have since decayed.

-An expert witness noticed stone markers being purposely buried to make room for new markers. Locating these stones is a major component of Dr. Rakita's GPR work

-A phase I archaeological survey of the area identified prehistoric toolmaking debris and a soil signature indicating a mound may once have stood on the property.

Text and Images by Ryan Harke,  FPAN staff, full credit to Janet for historical background information. 

To locate more Northeast Florida Cemetery posts, search "Cemetery a Day in May" or #CaDiM

2014 #CaDiM posts

2013 #CaDiM posts
IntroMay 1: NationalMay 2: OakdaleMay 3: Murphy's CreekMay 4: Mt. OliveMay 5: Bosque BelloMay 6: Old CityMay 7: EspanolaMay 8: TolomatoMay 9: PacettiMay 10: West ViewMay 11: Magnolia Springs,  May 12: St. Peter'sMay 13: Gravely HillMay 14: Pilgrim's RestMay 15: God's Little AcreMay 16: Dummet's GraveMay 17: No NameMay 18: St. MonicaMay 19: St. Joseph'sMay 20:  Old St. Joseph's (Duval)May 21: SampsonMay 22: Fernandez ReserveMay 23: St. AmbroseMay 24: Sons of IsraelMay 25: SanksvilleMay 26: HuguenotMay 27: Nombre de DiosMay 28: BeresfordMay 29: JonesMay 30: San Sebastian/PinehurstMay 31: Oaklynn

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Cemetery a Day in May: Welaka-Georgetown and the FMSF

Cemetery Log Date: May 22, 2014

Last year's CaDiM left us pondering how to protect cemeteries by visiting them; this year, we wanted to draw your attention to the Florida Master Site File (FMSF).

Toni gathering some information for the FMSF form for Welaka-Georgetown.
The FMSF is an inventory of all know cultural resources in the state of Florida, on private and public lands alike. Archaeological sites, historic structures and historic cemeteries are all included. Each site is given a specific identifying number and information like exact location, type of site, history of the site and other research is included.

Why is it important to get onto the list? The list is meant to help with long-term planning of construction, conservation or other similar projects. For instance, if a new highway is to be built, planners could start with looking at the project area and determine to place the road out of the way of important cultural resources from day one. Once a big project like this has started, if builders stumble upon a resource, it's harder to change plans to not impact the site.

While many local cemetery inventory projects have happened by historical and genealogical societies, this information does not always make it into the FMSF. With some of our ongoing programming about cemeteries, we've tried to raise awareness and get people working on adding cemeteries to the FMSF.

These cemeteries from our blog this year are not currently listed: Hilliard Community, Kingsley slave era cemetery, Norwalk, Garden of Heavenly Rest, Albritton, Welaka-Georgetown

The Welaka-Georgetown Cemetery started as the Ridgewood Cemetery in 1917. The cemetery served the small community, from which it received its namesake. It is the final resting place for several members of the Rogers family, associated with Margarie Kinnon Rawlings novels. It is still in use today.

Who: Cemetery association

What: 20th century African-American cemetery still serving the community today

Where: 174 Beecher Springs Road - Take CR 308-B east out of Welaka to Beechers Springs Road.  Turn right & travel .6 miles to cemetery

When: Open daily, from dawn to dusk

  • Wonderful venacular headstones including poured cement
  • Literary ties through the Rogers family members to Majorie Kinnan Rawlings
  • Peaceful "Old Florida" feel featuring rolling sand dunes, large oaks and pine

Check out a listing of the graves here.

Text and images by Emily Jane Murray and Toni Wallace, FPAN Staff.

2014 #CaDiM posts

2013 #CaDiM posts
IntroMay 1: NationalMay 2: OakdaleMay 3: Murphy's CreekMay 4: Mt. OliveMay 5: Bosque BelloMay 6: Old CityMay 7: EspanolaMay 8: TolomatoMay 9: PacettiMay 10: West ViewMay 11: Magnolia Springs,  May 12: St. Peter'sMay 13: Gravely HillMay 14: Pilgrim's RestMay 15: God's Little AcreMay 16: Dummet's GraveMay 17: No NameMay 18: St. MonicaMay 19: St. Joseph'sMay 20:  Old St. Joseph's (Duval)May 21: SampsonMay 22: Fernandez ReserveMay 23: St. AmbroseMay 24: Sons of IsraelMay 25: SanksvilleMay 26: HuguenotMay 27: Nombre de DiosMay 28: BeresfordMay 29: JonesMay 30: San Sebastian/PinehurstMay 31: Oaklynn