Friday, May 10, 2024

The Danville Adventure, Part 2

Here's an interesting house foundation on one of our sites near Danville, originally built of stone but with repairs made using concrete block.

Nearby is this outbuilding foundation. You may be able to see that this "foundation" was made by setting a line of rocks on the surface of the soil, no digging at all. See, people in the past did not consider the needs of future archaeologists, so they often did important things in ways that left little evidence for archaeologists to find. This foundation only survives because nothing has happened on this spot since the owners moved away; almost any kind of activity (agriculture, logging, parking pickup trucks) would very quickly erase all traces of this structure. And many other ways people have found to house themselves.

One thing that often does survive around house sites from the past 150 years is plants. These are blackberry lilies, the ancestors of which were probably planted between 1900 and 1920. We also find ornamental shrugs like mock orange, and of course many of these houses had a single big oak tree growing nearby.

Here's a screenful of nineteenth-century artifacts from one of these sites.

Here's a little surprise we stumbled on while crossing a creek; a previously unsuspected mill, likely dating to before the American Revolution. (Because the stones are an old style, and this property is well-documented in the nineteenth century.) We were just walking along when somebody said, "Wait, isn't that a millstone?" Why yes, it is. And there are other traces of the mill round about.

Like this second stone, sunken under the creek, which someone spotted the next time we came by.

Something that was long known about this property was the existence of this large cemetery. (It is being preserved.) Most of the two hundred or so graves are now unmarked, which means they were probably marked with wooden posts. But several have these crude, unworked headstones; they bear no names or dates, but they testify to someone's desire to remember.

As we remember all who lived here, and recover what they can of their lives as the land they called home is transformed yet again.

No comments: