Tag Archives: Archaeology

Archeology to be Focus Of Mount Independence Hike


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The mysteries of Mount Independence’s past will be revealed in the annual archeology hike into history at the historic site in Orwell, Vermont. Archaeologist Allen Hathaway will lead the hike on Sunday, September 5 at 2:00 p.m. and share his extensive knowledge about what archeology can and has revealed about the original inhabitants of the Mount; the American Revolution; and even the earlier French and Indian War. Continue reading

Vermont Adopts New Archeological Protection


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A new rule for protecting archeological and historical sites during development under Act 250 is in place after a legislative panel signed off the changes.

Officials from the Douglas administration said the new rule would maintain the protection of archeological sites while making it easier for applicants to comply with the state’s environmental protection and development control law.

“This new rule should make the process of applying for an Act 250 permit smoother and more predictable for an applicant under the ‘historic sites’ section of Criterion 8,” said Tayt Brooks, Commissioner of Economic, Housing and Community Development, including the Division for Historic Preservation. Continue reading

‘Hidden Room’ Highlight of Underground RR Site


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Last week student volunteers from SUNY Plattsburgh and SUNY Potsdam took part in exploratory archaeological excavations at the former Stephen Keese Smith farm on Union Road, midway between Keeseville. The Smith farm (also known as “the old Stafford place”) is a historic Underground Railroad site where refugees from slavery were hidden in the 1850s and 1860s. Although several of the buildings on the farm are believed to have housed runaway slaves, one barn in particular that includes a “hidden room” was the target of the weekend’s excavations.

Archeologists and volunteers organized by the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association (NCUGRHA) worked last weekend to conduct an archeological survey in advance of restoration work on the barn. The dig was organized by Andrew Black of Black Drake Consulting and SUNY Plattsburgh, assisted by members of the NCUGRHA, and with the permission and assistance of the of the property owners, Frank and Jackie Perusse.

Stephen Keese Smith was a Quaker, who shared his story of the smuggling former slaves through Clinton County to Canada in 1887:

I first became acquainted with the “Under Ground Rail Road” twenty years or more before the [Civil] War … Samuel Keese was the head of the [Underground RR] depot in Peru. His son, John Keese – myself, and Wendell Lansing at Keeseville [publisher of the Essex County Republican] were actors. I had large buildings and concealed the Negroes in them. I kept them, fed them, often gave them shoes and clothing. I presume I have spent a thousand dollars for them in one-way and another. There were stations at Albany, Troy, Glens Falls and then here in Peru. The Negroes would come through the woods and be nearly famished. We kept them and fed them for one or two days and then ran them along to Noadiah Moore’s in Champlain… He went with the Negroes to Canada and looked out places for them to work.

The archeological teams excavated three places along the exterior foundation walls of the barn in search for artifacts. Aside from some scattered 20th century trash and earlier barn construction debris (nails, hardware, window glass), they found nothing of significance, meaning that some restoration work can begin without harming historically significant remains.

The stone-walled room built into the barn’s lower level, believed to be one of the places Smith hid runaways, was too flooded to excavate. The team had hoped to establish the original floor level in the “hidden room” and see if there are deposits directly related to the room’s occupation by refugees. Unfortunately those investigations will have to wait until the groundwater level subsides, when archeologists will return to the barn to explore this hidden gem of North Country Underground Railroad History.

Photos: Above – Archaeologists and volunteers gather for a photo during the Smith barn excavation in Peru, Clinton County, NY (Courtesy Helen Allen Nerska). Below – The hidden room in the lower level of the Smith barn (Courtesy Don Papson).

Archaeologist to Discuss Historic Huguenot St. Finds


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Professor Joseph Diamond, head of the summer Archeological Field School sponsored by the State University of New York at New Paltz, will be the featured speaker at Historic Huguenot Street’s Second Saturday talk on Saturday, April 10th.

The Archeological Field School, which is administered by the Department of Anthropology, has been based at Historic Huguenot Street in New Paltz for the past several summers. Students working under the direction of Professor Diamond conduct archaeological digs on the six-acre site where a small group of French-speaking Huguenots founded New Paltz in 1678.

The project is an excellent example of “town-gown” collaboration. Students receive credit for their participation in the field school and Historic Huguenot Street gains valuable and new information about the community’s earliest years.

Work conducted most recently on the lawn opposite the DuBois Fort Visitor Center is revealing an interesting variety of European and Native American artifacts along with what may the foundation of at least one early home and a protective stockade fence. Nothing of these two features remains above ground. “While we are fortunate to have some very early documents in our archives,” says Eric Roth, executive director of Historic Huguenot Street, “These alone do not explain what this settlement looked like in the years before the stone houses were built. Professor Diamond’s work has dramatically expanded our understanding of these years and of Native American presence before the Huguenots arrived.”

The talk will be held on Saturday, April 10th at 7pm at Deyo Hall, located at 6 Broadhead Avenue between North Chestnut and Huguenot Streets in downtown New Paltz. Because street work on Broadhead Avenue may be underway during this time, those attending are advised to enter on North Front Street and following the signs to Deyo Hall. More information or directions can be found by visiting www.huguenotstreet.org or by calling (845) 255-1889

Photo: Pit Showing Possible Stockade Fence Post Holes (Courtesy HHS).

10th Annual Algonquian Peoples Seminar Program


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The Native American Institute of the Hudson River Valley and The New York State Museum have announced the program for this year’s 10th Mohican/Algonquian Peoples Seminar to be held at the NYS Museum in Albany April 17, 2010.

This year’s featured speakers will include keynote speaker Tribal Council President Kimberly M. Vele, Mohican historian Shirley Dunn, Mohican military historian and veteran, JoAnn Schedler, Department of Environmental Conservation wildlife pathologist Ward Stone, noted archaeologists, and more.


Here is a complete schedule:

9:00 – 9:30 Registration -Clark Auditorium -Please take the escalator or the elevator# 8 to the left of the security desk (behind the front desk) in the main lobby to the lower or Concourse level.

9:30 – 10:00 Welcome & Board Introduction: Mariann Mantzouris

Presentation of Colors by the Mohican Veterans

Morning speaker introductions: Lisa Little Wolf

10:00 – 10:20 President Kimberly M. Vele: “Family Circles”

Keynote speaker, President Vele’s presentation is “Family Circles”. She will be speak on reflecting on the past and what it means for the present in the context of families. Ms. Vele was elected to serve as President of the Tribal Council in the fall of 2009. Ms. Vele also served as an Associate Judge for the Tribal Court from 1996-2007 at which time she began serving as a Council member for the Tribal Council. She served as General Legal for the Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe in Bowler, Wisconsin for several years before starting a private practice which involved representing numerous Tribes throughout the country.

President Kim Vele is a member of the Federal Bar Association; State Bar of Wisconsin; Wisconsin Indian League of Lawyers and was a former member of the Wisconsin Tribal Court Judges Association; former Treasurer for the National Tribal Court Judges Association; and past Chairperson of the Management and Oversight Committee for the National Tribal Justice Resource Center. She is a faculty member at the National Judicial College and has given presentations at numerous Bar Association and Judicial Conferences.

10:25 – 10:45 Shirley Dunn: “River Indians: Mohicans Making History”

In her book, The River Indians: Mohicans Making History. Ms. Dunn stresses the often- overlooked importance of the Mohicans to New York history and pre-history. The new book presents a rare look at historic events in which the Mohicans (called “River Indians”) should get credit. Leaders among the native nations on the Hudson River, Mohicans welcomed explorer Henry Hudson, who visited them for 13 days, longer than he stayed with any other Indian nation. She will explain how Mohicans initiated the upriver fur trade and continued in it for a century. Mohicans were close friends with the Dutch leader Arent Van Curler, and helped save the farms of Rensselaerswyck. There is a surprise here. Did he have a Mohican daughter? There is new information about the Mohican leader Etowokoaum, who went to England in 1710. We know that Mohicans fought beside English soldiers in wars against Canada from 1690 to 1765, protected Albany from attack from Canada on more than one occasion, and enlisted in the Revolution on the American side at George Washington’s request. (After the Revolution, they were refused soldiers’ grants of their own land.) The land where the State Museum is located was once in Mohican territory.

Further, the information is valuable to archaeologists because it identifies Mohican areas taken over by the Mohawks after 1629. So, whose artifacts are being found? These overlapping locations will be explained, as well as the connections of Arent Van Curler’s grandson with the Mohicans. He ran a fur trade in Washington County in the 1700s, and lived to be 106 years old! An explanation of Mohican place names will conclude the talk.

Shirley Wiltse Dunn, a holder of Masters’ degrees in English and History, has worked as a teacher, museum interpreter, and historic preservation consultant. A scholar of the Mohicans and early Dutch, she is the author of The Mohicans and Their Land, 1609-1730 (1994), The Mohican World, 1680-1750 (2000) and co-author of Dutch Architecture Near Albany: The Polgreen Photographs (1996), and The Mohicans (2008), a booklet for young readers. (All have been published by Purple Mountain Press.) She also has edited a book of family stories, Pioneer Days in the Catskill High Peaks (Black Dome Press, 1991) and three bulletins, each containing Native American Institute seminar papers, for the New York State Museum. She became interested in the Mohicans two decades ago while studying Indian deeds for early properties in the Albany, New York, area.

10:45 – 11:00 Break

11:00 – 11:20 JoAnn Schedler “Mohican/Stockbridge Military History”

Ms. Schedler will review Mohican/Stockbridge military history and present information on individuals as it relates to their military service in various wars and conflicts from our homelands to Wisconsin. She will share the projects the Mohican Veterans are working on to preserve this history and honor our ancestor’s military service.

Ms. Schedler, BSN, MSM, RN, is a life member Reserve Officers Association, Mohican Veteran Officer founding member, 1996-present, American Legion post # 0117, 2004-present, Tribal Historic Preservation committee for Stockbridge-Munsee Community, 2004-present, Constitution committee for the Stockbridge-Munsee Community, 2005-present, Peacemaker, Stockbridge-Munsee Tribal Court 2005- present Nursing Instructor for Associate Degree Program at College of the Menominee Nation 2008/ 2009, Officer in the US Army Nurse Corps Reserves 1984, served over twenty years with the 452 Combat Support Hospital (CSH), retired as a Major from the Army Reserve in July 2004, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nurses since 1992, National Alaska Native American Indian Nurses Association # 10179.

11:25 – 11:45 Ted Filli: “The Importance of Exploring Waterways Flowing To and From the Hudson River in Relation to Locating Contact Period Mohican Sites”

This presentation will cover from the early 1600′s – mid 1700′s newly discovered Contact Period Mohican sites that have not been documented before in Columbia county. Physical evidence will be shown demonstrating trade and interaction with the early European settlers in the Claverack / Greenport areas of Columbia County. The objective of this presentation is to encourage more research in this area and to demonstrate a larger need to study these waterways.

Ted Filli has lived his entire life in the town of Claverack, NY and as a young man was mentored by the well known advocational archaeologist, Ken Mynter, who excavated the with Claverack rock-shelter the results being included in the Recent Contributions of the Hudson Valley Prehistory by Robert Funk. Ted is a former town historian and is still active in Native archaeological research.

11:50 – 12:10 Matthew T. Bradley: “Reconstructing the 17th century path across the Berkshires”

This presentation presents the first rigorous reconstruction of the course of the 17th century path connecting Springfield and Albany which was documented at least as early as the foray into the Berkshires lead by Major John Talcott in August of 1676. Evidence for the reconstruction will include textual accounts (including those related to the Talcott foray and the Knox Expedition of 1775–76), early cartographic records, archaeological site distribution, and topographic features.

The reconstruction will add to already existing work on regional transportation networks such as the Mohawk Trail and as such will aid scholars concerned with the broader historical geography of New England and the Mid-Atlantic. It will also be of interest to descendent communities of the indigenous peoples of New England and the Mid-Atlantic as well as to all current residents of the Berkshires and the Capital Region.

Matthew Bradley is a graduate student affiliated with the Indiana University Anthropology Department and currently residing in the Berkshires. His interests include the culture history of the Iroquoian peoples, north/south interaction within the Eastern Woodlands culture area, and the history of the discipline of anthropology as it relates to the study of American Indians.

12:15 -1:15 Seminar Luncheon: Buffalo Loaf (“Thunder Rumble”), Maple Roasted Turkey, Wild Rice with Nuts and Berries, Succotash, Maple Squash, Corn Bread and Strawberry Desert- Fresh Brewed Coffee, Decaf, Hot Tea and Water

Afternoon speaker introductions: Larry Thetford

1:15 – 1:35 James C. Davis: “A Brief Look at the Links Between the Prophecies of the Algonquin People and the Ongoing Elimination of Ancient Sacred Ceremonial Sites in the Hudson Valley Region”

This presentation will include original footage from the “Cry of the Earth: The prophecies of the First Nations at the United Nations” in November 1993 as well as, a reading of a portion of Grandfather William Commanda’s statement on The Seven Fires Prophecy Belt. He will also speak about the damage currently being done to the sites that may have been used for millennia, including the Ulster Ridge sites and the lack of any Native American review of such sites. This work is an outgrowth of Grandfather Commanda’s statement of 2008, “Respecting the Sacred in the Land:”Inherent in the prayer of the Indigenous Nations of Turtle Island is the deep knowledge that we are all connected –my people in the east say GINAWAYDAGANUC. The prayer is a celebration of the profound knowledge that we are connected with the each other, as well as with the chief elements–Mother Earth, Water, Air and Fire–the animate and inanimate, the plants and animals and the larger universe, connected energetically.

Spirit embraces and unifies us all~ Inherent in the prayer is a deep respect for both Mother Earth, the penultimate provider and nurturer, and all her children. The prayer is a constant reminder to honor this connectedness, and walk gently in the places of our differences, for those are the places of co-creation.”

James C. Davis is Environmental Director of the Wittenberg Center for Alternative Resources in Woodstock, NY. and a co-founder of the Earth Reunion Project which works with traditional wisdom keepers of Earth traditions from around the world. For the past 30 years Jim has pursued mastery of the wisdom of the Earth and of the earth-based traditions. His primary focus has been the Hudson Valley and the Catskill watershed bio-regions, yet he has travelled extensively to explore the shamanic teachings of many traditions and was adopted as an Elder by the Yuin Nation of Australia. He has written a lexography of the Annishinabe places of the region

1:40 – 2:00 Ward Stone: The Destruction and Contamination of Mohican Ancestral Lands by the Cement Plant Operation in Ravena, Albany County, New York

Ward B. Stone, Elyse Griffin, Elyse Kunz, Amanda Allen, Michael M. Reynolds, and Aaron W. Behrens New York State Wildlife Pathologist, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Delmar New York, Community Advocates for Safe Emissions, Ravena, New York, State University of New York of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill, NY

Since 1962 in Ravena, Albany County, New York cement plant operations have impacted thousands of acres of land with plant operations, quarrying of limestone, and pollution. This extensive environmental damage is within several miles of the site where the Mohican council fire was located on Schodack Island in the Hudson River. Much of this Albany County area has received little study by professional archeologist. Valuable artifacts and Mohican cultural material may still be able to be saved.

It appears that historic preservation studies have been, at least very limited, on this former Mohican land. The requirements were not in place in 1962 on the cement plant and permits have largely been “grandfathered in”. We will present a case for the need of a thorough historic preservation study.

Ward B. Stone, B.A., M.S., Sc. D. (Hon.),Wildlife Pathologist NYS Dept. Environmental Conservation, Wildlife Pathology Unit, Delmar, NY; Adjunct Professor, SUNY Cobleskill; Adjunct Professor, College of Saint Rose.

2:05 – 2:25 Ed Lenik: Mythic Creatures: Serpents, Dragons and Sea Monsters in Northeastern Rock Art

Serpentine images carved into non-portable rock surfaces and on portable artifacts were invested with ideological and cultural significance by American Indian people in the Northeast. These images occur on bedrock outcrops located along the shores of lakes, the banks of river, seaside bays, low hills and mountains. Serpentine images have also been engraved into utilitarian and non-utilitarian artifacts such as tools, ornaments, pebbles, and on small, flat stones. They appear on wood and bark, and as facial tattoos on an 18th century Mohican Indian and on a portrait of a Delaware Indian. These various images are described and an interpretation of their origin, age and meaning is presented.

Ed Lenik has thirty-seven years of fieldwork and research experience in northeastern archaeology and anthropology, specializing in rock art research, documentation and preservation.

M.A. in Anthropology, New York University; Registered Professional Archaeologist.

Proprietor and Principal Investigator of Sheffield Archaeological Consultants, Wayne, NJ Author of these books: Making Pictures in Stone: American Indian Rock Art of the Northeast (University of Alabama Press, 2009) and Picture Rocks, American Indian Rock Art in the Northeast Woodlands. (University Press of New England, 2002) [The first comprehensive study of rock art in the northeast].

2:25 – 2:40 Break

2:40 – 3:00 Paul Nevin: The Safe Harbor Petroglyphs – Research in the New Century

The Safe Harbor Petroglyphs, Lancaster County, PA, are one of three major rock art sites on the lower Susquehanna River and the only one that remains accessible in its original location. Information on the general nature of the site with and emphasis on research conducted there in the past ten years will be presented.

Paul Nevin: Safe Harbor Petroglyph documentation and research, 1982-present; Board Member, Eastern States Rock Art Research Association (ESRARA); President, Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology, Inc., 2007-2008; Contributing Author, The Rock Art of Eastern North America (University of Alabama Press, 2004); Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Award, 2003, Safe Harbor Petroglyph Recording Project.

3:05 – 4:15 Panel Discussion:

John Bonafide, Historic Preservation Services Coordinator, New York State Historic Preservation Office

Nancy Herter, Scientist, Historic Preservation Archaeology Analyst, New York State Historic Preservation Office

Charles E. Vandrei, Agency Historic Preservation Officer, New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation, Bureau of State Land Management, Historic Preservation Unit

Jeff Gregg, Indian Nations Affairs Coordinator, New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation, Office of Environmental Justice

The Army Corps of Engineers will have two representatives

Representatives from the New York State Historic Preservation Office, the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Army Corps of Engineers will discuss the process of reviewing potential projects within the State of New York. The focus will be on determining whether it is a federal, state, or SEQR project and how the agencies consult with the Native American Tribes.

***Please note! This panel is here to describe their agency’s criteria for determining sites. Questions will not be entertained on specific sites.

4:15 – 4:30 Closing Remarks and Retreat of the Colors” by Mohican Veterans

For questions or for a copy of the registration form, email Mariann Mantzouris, Seminar Chairwoman at marimantz@aol.com or call

A New History of the Munsee Indians


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More enigmatic than they should be in this late age, even among historians of New York, the Munsee are less known than the story for which they are best known – the purchase of Manhattan Island for veritable pittance in 1626. One reason the Munsee (a northern sub-set of sorts of the Lenni Lenape or Delaware, as they were called by Europeans) have been ignored by historians is their rather early refugee status by the 1740s.

Anthropologist Robert S. Grumet’s The Munsee Indians: A History attempts to paint a portrait of the Munsee, whose territory stretched form the lower Hudson River Valley to the headwaters of the Delaware, as an Indian Nation in their own right. Previous histories, particularly those of the Lenape, have generally ignored the important role of the Munsee.

Grumet marshals archeological, anthropological and archival evidence to bring to life the memorial lives of Mattano, Tackapousha, Mamanuchqua, and other Munsee leaders who helped shape the course of American history in the mid-Atlantic before the American Revolution. The Musee emigrated to reservations in Wisconsin, Ontario, and Oklahoma where their descendants live to this day.

Grumet is the senior research associate at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Historic Contact: Indian People and Colonists in Today’s Northeastern United States in the Sixteenth Through Eighteenth Centuries.

The Munsee Indians: A History is part of the Civilization of the American Indian Series by the University of Oklahoma Press.

Vermont Files Proposed Archeology Rule Change


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The State of Vermont has officially filed a proposed revised rule for protecting archeological and historical sites during development, beginning the formal process of review.

Under Vermont’s Act 250, the state’s environmental protection and development review law, the Division for Historic Preservation makes recommendations to the district environmental commissions on whether a proposed development would impact “historic sites,” including archeological sites. Continue reading

Great Lakes Underwater Event Adds Speakers


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New York Sea Grant, the Oswego Maritime Foundation, and the Great Lakes Seaway Trail have added to the March 6 Great Lakes Underwater conference program at SUNY Oswego. The added presentations for the 9am to 3pm event at the SUNY Oswego Campus Center in Oswego, NY, include:

· Dr. Henry Spang and “Building the OMF Ontario – “a floating maritime classroom”
· Skip Couch and the “Lost Fleet of the 1000 Islands,”
· James Sears and four New York State Divers Association “Two-Tank Tips,” and
· Brian Prince of S.O.S. – the Save Ontario Shipwrecks program preserving Ontario Canada’s maritime heritage.

Oswego Maritime Foundation (OMF) Director of Education through Involvement Dr. Henry Spang will talk about the volunteer effort that is completing the construction of the OMF Ontario. Spang says, “The OMF Ontario will be dedicated to public service and is designed to educate the public about our Great Lakes maritime history, heritage, resources and ecology by hands-on involvement in the experience of sailing this fabulous re-creation from our sailing era.”

Spang says the 85-foot-long schooner will be the only ship of its kind of US registry on Lake Ontario when shipboard classes begin in two years. The last schooner built in Oswego, NY, launched 131 years ago.

Raymond I. “Skip” Couch’s ancestors include Connecticut shipbuilders that settled in Clayton, NY, and a Great Lakes Seaway Trail Rock Island Lighthouse keeper. A Clayton Diving Club founding member, Couch participated in an underwater survey for iron cannons believed abandoned by the British before the War of 1812 near Carleton Island in 2009. Couch, co-author of the Diver’s Guide to the Upper St. Lawrence River, says, “At Great Lakes Underwater, divers and maritime history buffs will hear fascinating details about the more than three dozen ships stranded or lost to natural disaster or human error in the Narrows of the Thousand Islands.”

James Sears of the New York State Divers Association will share four destinations where divers can easily dive on two different shipwrecks. Two of the sites are in the St. Lawrence River with one each in Lake Ontario and Lake Champlain.

The keynote presentation of the 2010 Great Lakes Underwater is deep wreck explorer Jim Kennard’s presentation on the “Discovery of the HMS Ontario,” a British warship that sank in Lake Ontario in 1780 during the American Revolution. Kennard, who might easily be called the “Great Lakes Seaway Trail’s Jacques Cousteau,” will share a video and the exciting story of how he and diving partner Dan Scoville located this “Holy Grail” of diving. Kennard’s 200-plus discoveries have been featured in such publications as National Geographic and Sea Technology.

Brian Prince, president of S.O.S. – Save Ontario Shipwrecks, will highlight Canadian efforts to preserve Ontario’s shipwrecks and maritime heritage. The nonprofit organization conduct underwater archaeology and side scan surveys, collects oral histories, maintains an historical archives, offers diver training, and installs maritime-theme interpretive signage.

New York Sea Grant Coastal Recreation and Tourism Specialist and conference co-organizer Dave White, says, “Great Lakes Underwater provides divers and non-divers who enjoy maritime heritage with a fabulous day of discoveries with speakers who offer an inside look at our history and fascinating details of shipwrecks, the underwater landscape, and the technology now used to explore the underwater landscape.”

Great Lakes Underwater 2010 will be held in the high-tech SUNY Oswego Campus Center Auditorium. Registration for Great Lakes Underwater is $25 ($20 for students) payable to Cornell University and includes the program, buffet lunch, and refreshments. For more information, contact New York Sea Grant, SUNY Oswego, Oswego, NY 13126, 315-312-3042, www.oswegomaritime.org/glu.html.

Photo: Oswego Maritime Foundation’s Ontario undertest sail.

Oldest Shipwreck Highlight of Great Lakes Underwater Event


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The discovery of the Great Lakes’ oldest confirmed shipwreck – a British warship used in the American Revolution – is the keynote presentation for the March 6, 2010 Great Lakes Underwater conference at SUNY Oswego, Oswego, NY. Underwater explorer Jim Kennard, who might be called the “Great Lakes Jacques Cousteau,” will share the story of how he and diving partner Dan Scoville located the HMS Ontario.

Kennard and Scoville found the sloop-of-war in 500 feet of water May 2008. She was on her way from Fort Niagara in Youngstown, NY, to Oswego and Fort Haldimand on Carleton Island in the St. Lawrence during the Revolutionary War when she sunk in a gale on October 31, 1780. The ship is considered property of the British Admiralty and is to be left undisturbed as a war grave site.

Those attending the Great Lakes Underwater event hosted by New York Sea Grant and the Oswego Maritime Foundation will see a video of the fascinating 229-year-old, 80-foot-long, 22-gun ship and hear the details of her discovery using deep-water sonar scanning. The video images will reveal how well the deep, cool Great Lakes’ water of Lake Ontario preserved her two crow’s nests, carved bow, quarter galleries, anchors and upright masts.

Conference co-organizer David G. White, a coastal recreation and tourism specialist with New York Sea Grant, Oswego, says, “With Jim Kennard as keynote speaker, the 2010 Great Lakes Underwater promises to be a fascinating day of the tales of shipwreck discovery. We are pleased to add our name alongside National Geographic, Sea Technology and others who have recognized the depth and scope of his exploration into the waters of New York.”

In just the past six years, Kennard has discovered 12 historic and rare shipwrecks in Lake Ontario. In his 40-year career, he counts more than 200 discoveries total exploring in Lake Champlain, the Finger Lakes, and the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.

Great Lakes Underwater 2010 will be held in the high-tech SUNY Oswego Campus Center Auditorium. Registration for Great Lakes Underwater is $25 ($20 for students) payable to Cornell University and includes the program, buffet lunch, and refreshments.

For more information, contact New York Sea Grant, SUNY Oswego, Oswego, NY 13126, 315-312-3042, www.oswegomaritime.org/glu.html.

Photo: One of two crow’s nests on the HMS Ontario; courtesy Jim Kennard and Dan Scoville.

VT Archeologist Named Historic Preservation Officer


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Vermont’s long-time State Archeologist has been named State Historic Preservation Officer and Director of the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation. Giovanna Peebles will assume the post immediately, according to Kevin Dorn, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development.

“Giovanna Peebles has served the people of Vermont as State Archeologist since 1976. Her long experience in this field and in historic preservation overall, as well as her passion for our state’s extraordinary heritage, makes her well-qualified to take over as State Historic Preservation Officer for Vermont.” Continue reading

Ten Biggest Stories in New York History For 2009


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In no particular order, the Ten Biggest Stories in New York State History in 2009.

150th Anniversary of John Brown’s Death
2009 marked the 150th anniversary of abolitionist John Brown’s anti-slavery raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, his subsequent execution and the return of his body to North Elba, Essex County. To commemorate Brown’s struggle to end slavery in America, activities included lectures, a symposium, and a reenactment of the return of Brown’s body to North Elba including an overnight stay in Elizabethtown.


Archeological Discoveries
It was a big year for archeological discoveries in Essex County where work on the pre-civil African American community progressed, in Lake Ontario where an 1850s Schooner was discovered, in Albany where an early 19th century cemetery was uncovered, and in Fishkill where a number of Revolutionary War era graves were found. Also, a Civil War soldier was finally returned to Saratoga National Cemetery to be reburied.

Rogers Island, Fort Edward
While dredging PCBs from the Hudson River in Fort Edward a dredge struck the remains of Old Fort Edward damaging one of the most important and historic military sites in New York State. Archaeologist scrambled to asses and mitigate the damage. Another tragic event happened in November when Jeffrey Harbison, part of a 5-person archaeological crew hired by General Electric to begin research for Phase 2 of the Hudson River dredging project next summer, was drowned after going over a dam. The bad news at Rogers Island was capped with later that month when a development plan for the southern end of the island was presented.

400th Anniversary of Henry Hudson
New Year’s Day 2009 marked the start of New York’s Quadricentennial celebration commemorating 400 years of history on the Hudson River, New York Harbor and Lake Champlain. Throughout the year, New York honored the 400th anniversaries of the voyage of Captain Henry Hudson, who led (for the Dutch) the first European expedition to sail up the river that now bears his name, as well as the voyage of Samuel de Champlain, the first to discover the namesake lake. Communities from the Big Apple to the Canadian border held events to highlight New York’s rich history of exploration and discovery.

Lake Champlain Bridge Demolition
The Lake Champlain Bridge, built in 1929 to span between Crown Point, New York and Chimney Point, Vermont, was undergoing study to deal with it’s historic preservation when on October 16, 2009 it was closed indefinitely. In November an engineering report suggested the bridge be demolished and in late December it was unceremoniously destroyed by demolished with explosives. A several hour detour now replaces the old bridge.

Historic Preservation Tax Credit
In July Governor David Paterson signed legislation that greatly improves the New York State Rehabilitation Tax Credit program. The new law provides incentives and program features for developers and municipalities seeking to rehabilitate historic buildings, and is hoped to advance redevelopment and economic stimulus goals throughout New York State. An economic impact study predicts that the enhanced rehabilitation tax credit will spur over $500 million dollars of economic activity in New York State and create some 2,000 jobs over its initial five-year lifespan.

Rensselaer County Historical Society Threatened
The Rensselaer County Historical Society announced in March that they may be forced to close due to economic hardship. “RCHS is currently experiencing severe financial difficulty,” officials at the Society told their supporters, “The organization been running annual deficits for several years, and despite special efforts, the situation has now become critical. In a matter of weeks RCHS will no longer have funds available to meet its basic operating needs.” RCHS is still holding on, but the economic crisis appears far from over.

Coney Island’s Demise Hastened
A major debate raged this year about the future of Coney Island. Thor Equities (a development company) has purchased large tracts of land in the reknown seaside resort of yore, and the City Planning Commission passed a radical rezoning to encourage economic redevelopment – a plan vehemently opposed by preservation interests. This year Coney lost landmarks like Astroland and Major Meats on Mermaid Avenue. Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park may be next as the park has sold it’s popular Thunderbolt ride late last year. In December the grassroots activist group Save Coney Island, along with several Coney Island residents and amusement district workers and performers filed a lawsuit challenging the Bloomberg administration’s rezoning of Coney Island’s amusement area. It may be the only hope of saving an American landmark.

New York Writers Institute’s 25th Anniversary
2009 marked the 25th Anniversary of one of New York State’s most important literary institutions. Since 1984, more than 1,000 novelists, poets, biographers, filmmakers, historians, essayists and creative artists have presented a wide ranging variety of performance, readings, workshops, seminars, and other public events. Since the Institute was started by writer and historian William Kennedy (using some of his MacArthur award prize money) more then a quarter million people have attended its events.

War of 1812 Bill Vetoed

Governor David Paterson vetoed a bill that would have created a commission to organize and promote bi-national events related to the War of 1812′s 200th anniversary. Paterson said the expense, which he put at about $2.25 million by 2016, was “not absolutely necessary” in light of a then-looming state. Supporters however, pointed out that the bill did not require a budget appropriation, but would provide a structure of volunteers to coordinate commemorative events.

Ships, Explorers, And The World Trade Center


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In 1916 the burnt timbers of what some believe is a 17th-century ship’s keel (the remains of Adriaen Block’s Tiger, forerunner of the Onrust) were discovered at the site of the future World Trade Center. You can read about that at one of my favorite blogs, The Old Salt Blog. Later, an ancient anchor and a Dutch cannon were recovered there in 1967. These maritime relics will be exhibited together in February 2-28, 2010, along with a model of a new ship that commemorates the World Trade Center and honors America’s maritime heritage.

The exhibit will be kicked off with an Exhibition Preview, Luncheon and Fundraiser on February 3, 2010. The preview event will feature preservationists Peter Stanford and Kent Barwick, an exhibition preview, the dedication of World Trade Center Steel, cocktails and a luncheon, followed by a guided tour of the exhibition.

Highlights of the exhibition include:

* the charred remains of a ship’s bow excavated in 1916, long thought to be the ship’s keel of Dutch explorer Adrian Block’s Ship TIJGER, which burned off Manhattan in 1613, and a bronze cannon marked “VOC,” property of the Dutch East India Company (Courtesy Museum of the City of New York);

* an ancient, 11-foot iron anchor hoisted from the construction site of the World Trade Center in 1967, where it had been buried for more than 300 years (Courtesy National Maritime Historical Society);

* a model and film of the USS NEW YORK, the Navy’s newly commissioned (7 November 2009) Landing Platform, Dock Warship, made with 7.5 tons of World Trade Center Steel forged into its bow (Courtesy USS NEW YORK Commissioning Committee);

* documentary film footage from 1916 of the discovery of the Ship TIJGER Keel and a section of Manhattan Company Water Pipe (1804) found during excavation for the IRT subway tunnel at the future World Trade Center site (Courtesy Brooklyn College Archives); and

* at the entrance to The India House: a steel artifact recovered from the World Trade Center. This will be a permanent reminder of the World Trade Center, the innocent victims, and the bravery of those who responded on September 11, 2001.

The exhibit, curated by Margaret Stocker, is being hosted by India House (One Hanover Square, NYC) and is being presented by the India House Foundation.

Exhibit Hours: Weekdays 11 – 3:30 and group tours by appointment
Suggested Donation: $10
For Group tours contact info@indiahousefoundation.org or telephone Maria Dering at 212-873-6715

Exhibition Preview, Luncheon and Fundraiser February 3, 2010
To Reserve Tickets: info@indiahousefoundation.org
Skippers: $250 Explorers: $350 Masters of the Universe: $500
or email stockermargaret@mac.com

Research Fellowship in Museum Anthropology


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The Bard Graduate Center and the American Museum of Natural History announce a Research Fellowship in Museum Anthropology. The fellowship provides support to a postdoctoral investigator to carry out a specific project over a two-year period. The program is designed to advance the training of the participant by having her/him pursue a project in association with a curator in the Division of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). The Fellow will also be expected to teach one graduate-level course per year at the Bard Graduate Center (BGC). The Fellow will thus be in joint residence at BGC and AMNH. The fellowship includes free housing.

A major purpose of the BGC-AMNH Research Fellowship in Museum Anthropology is to promote mutual scholarly interest and interaction among fellows, BGC faculty and students, and AMNH staff members. Candidates for Research Fellow are judged primarily on their research abilities and experience, and on the merits and scope of the proposed research.

Candidates with a research interest in the History of Collecting for Anthropology Museums are especially encouraged to apply for the 2010-12 fellowship. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to develop a research program drawing from the Asian Ethnographic Collections at the AMNH. We wish to encourage scholarly investigation of how objects move from the sacred and particular to the market, and of the collecting process and the role of collectors, whether scholars, missionaries or dealers.

Application Procedures: Interested researchers should send a statement of research accomplishments and intentions, curriculum vitae including list of publications, and three letters of recommendation to Research Fellowship Competition, Bard Graduate Center, 18 W.86th Street, New York NY 10024, USA. Research Fellowship applications must be postmarked by December 15. At this time, applications are not accepted by fax or e-mail.

Mastodon Tusk May Be Largest Ever Uncovered in NYS


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Research under way at the New York State Museum indicates that a huge mastodon tusk, recently excavated by Museum scientists in Orange County, may be the largest tusk ever found in New York State. The nearly complete but fragmented tusk, measuring more than nine feet long, was one of two excavated this past summer in the Black Dirt area of Orange County at the confluence of Tunkamoose Creek and the Wallkill River, on the property of Lester Lain of Westtown. Museum scientists believe that the other less complete tusk, about 5-6 feet long, came from the same mastodon, which has been named the Tunkamoose mastodon.

Glen Keeton of Mount Hope, N.Y. and Chris Connallon of Hampton, N.J. came across the tusks in November 2008 as they were canoeing down the Wallkill River. Keeton contacted the Orange County chapter of the New York State Archeological Association, which then contacted the State Museum. Weather conditions delayed the excavation until this past
summer.

Since then, Dr. Robert Feranec, the Museum’s curator of vertebrate paleontology, has been researching other mastodon excavations in New York State. Feranec believes that the Warren Mastodon tusk, which is 8 feet, 8 inches long, is the longest one uncovered to date. It was discovered in New York State in the 1800s and is on exhibit at the
American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The tusk of the Cohoes Mastodon, on display at the State Museum, is about 4-5 feet long.

Based on the age of similar fossils, Feranec suspects that the tusks are about 13,000 years old. However, carbon dating results to determine the exact age, will not be available until later this year. In the meantime, the tusks have been taken apart to be cleaned and conserved for their long-term survival. It is hoped that eventually the tusks can be made available for scientific research and exhibits at the State
Museum and at a museum in the area where the tusks were found.

Abundant mastodon fossils have been found in Orange County, especially in the rich Black Dirt area which Keeton calls “a gold mine for these fossils.” Other fossils have also been found including those of giant beavers, stag moose, ground sloths, peccaries and reindeer. Several Museum scientists will be involved in an integrative research
project in the Black Dirt area where they will investigate the ancient environment in which the mastodon lived, as well as how that environment changed over the last 13,000 years.

“From my perspective, this is a significant find,” said Feranec. “These fossils will tell us more about the ancient history of New York. We hope to be able to reconstruct the environment in which the mastodon lived, as well as to try to understand why they went extinct.”

In 2007, Feranec oversaw the relocation of the Cohoes Mastodon from the State Museum lobby window to its new location in the Museum’s Exhibition Hall, where temperature and humidity levels are more stable and more conducive to the skeleton’s long-term preservation. The iconic Museum treasure is now the centerpiece of an expanded exhibition.

Discovered in 1866 near Cohoes Falls, the Mastodon once stood about 8 ½ feet tall, was about 15 feet long, and weighed between 8-10,000 pounds. Its tusk weighs 50 pounds.

Photo: During the excavation process in Orange County, Dr. Robert Feranec, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the New York State Museum, poses next to part of the tusk of a mastodon. (Photo courtesy of NYS Museum)

10,000 Years of Pre-History in Rye at Jay Heritage Center


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Rye boasts unique prehistoric resources including one of the top 12 important Paleo-Indian archaeological sites in New York State. In studying the Jay Property since 1982, archaeologists, including the late Prof. Byland, and Dr. Boesch have found compelling evidence of early tribal settlement, hunting and fishing patterns substantiated by numerous artifacts including quartz projectile points and decorated pottery shards. There will be an opportunity to see these specimens up close and learn what they tell us about pre-historic life in Rye during a lecture this Sunday, September 27th, at 4:00pm in the 1907 Van Norden Carriage House at the Jay Heritage Center – 1838 Peter Augustus Jay House, Rye, NY.

Archaeologist Dr. Eugene Boesch has been researching the Jay Property since 2006 conducting documentary research and archaeological investigations which uncovered evidence for the 18th century Jay home known as “The Locusts” and earlier Native American occupations on the property dating back at least 4,000 years.

This special lecture is endowed in memory of the late Prof. Bruce Byland a member of the faculty of Lehman College of the City University of New York. In the New York area he worked with the Metropolitan Forensic Anthropology Team in the identification of the remains of Pierre Toussaint, since Beatified by the Catholic Church, and in the excavation of New York’s colonial African Cemetery. He was the catalyst for a multi-year archaeological study of the Boston Post Road Historic District, a National Historic Landmark, with the Jay Heritage Center. The finds from this excavation are being prepared for future exhibit at the Jay site.

The event is free for Jay Heritage Center members; $5 for non-members.

Collegiate Church Exhibit, Lectures, in New York City


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Beginning tonight, there will be a series of events, lectures, and an exhibit realting to aspects of the Collegiate Church. The events feature an exhibit about far east trade curated by Marybeth dePhilippis of New-York Historical Society, lectures on Everardus Bogardus (1607-1647) (the second minister of the Dutch Reformed Church in New Amsterdam), the role of women in 17th Century Dutch culture, the archeology of new Amsterdam, and Leisler’s Rebellion and the Collegiate Church. The West End Church and the Marble Collegiate College were both founded in 1628 by Dutch settlers.


Events At Bard Graduate Center, 38 West 86th Street, NYC:

Exhibit: (at 18 West 18th Street) “Dutch New York Between East and West: The World of Margrieta van Varick (September 18,2009 – January 3, 2010), curated by Marybeth dePhilippis of New-York Historical Society. Catalogue available.

Lecture: (September 24 at 6 p.m.) “A Dutch Mystic in the New World: Reverend Everardus Bogardus (1607-1647) and His Callings”. The second minister of the Dutch Reformed Church in New Amsterdam, Bogardus will be reprised by Prof. Willem Frijoff, Emeritus professor of history at Free University (Amsterdam) who has written the definitive biography of Dominie Bogardus, and Dr. Firth Haring Fabend, fellow of the Holland Society and author of Zion on the Hudson (about the Reformed Church after the English occupation).

Lecture: (October 1 at 6 p.m.) “Women of the Dutch Golden Age”, a talk on the role of Women in 17th Century Dutch Culture by Els Kloek, Associate Professor at Utrecht University and editor-in-chief of Dictionary of Dutch Women.

Tickets for the lectures are available ($25 general, $17 students and seniors) online at programs@bgc.bard.edu of by calling (212) 501-3011. For Collegiate Church members, call Ken Chase at (212) 799-4203.

Events at Marble Collegiate Church, 3 West 29th Street:

Lecture: (November 14 at 1:30 p.m.): “Digging New Amsterdam”, a talk by Archeologists Anne-Marie Cantwell and Diana Wall, authors of “Unearthing Gotham”. Co-Sponsored by New Amsterdam History Center and the New York Society of Archeologists. Free: call Ken Chase at (212) 799-4203 or email at kchase@westendchurch.org.

Lecture: (November 21 at 1:30): “Leisler’s Rebellion and the Collegiate Church Charter”, a talk by David Voorhees, Editor of De Halve Maen, the Holland Society journal and preeminent expert on Jacob Leisler, and Francis Sypher, Jr., translator of the Collegiate Church archives. Free: call Ken Chase at (212) 799-4203 or email kchase@westendchurch.org.

Pieces of Fort Edward Revealed During Dredging


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A piece of historic Fort Edward, site of the Great Carrying Place portage between the Hudson River and Lake George and prominent in the history of the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, is reported to have been brought up while dredging the Hudson River for PCBs according to the Glens Falls Post Star.

“Neal Orsini said he was awakened at 4 a.m. by the noise of a clamshell dredge pulling the piece of wood, which he estimated to be about 14 feet long, from his property,” the paper reported. “There was a breakdown somewhere in the system and they took a piece of old Fort Edward out of the bank they weren’t supposed to be touching,” Orsini said, “It was really loud.”

Orsini also told the paper that a clamshell dredge removed a section of riverbank. “It left a gaping hole in my river bank,” he said. The paper is reporting that archeologists are on the scene and a “survey is being performed on the pieces taken from the area.”

Fort Edward was built in 1755 on “The Great Warpath” between Albany and the head of northward navigation at Lake George. It’s three components, the fort itself, a fortified encampment on Rogers Island, and a Royal blockhouse built in 1758 across the river was Britain’s largest military outpost in North America during the French and Indian War housing more than 15,000 troops. An earlier stockaded area named Fort Nicholson was located there in 1709 during Queen Anne’s War; it was rebuilt as Fort Lydus (primarily the trading post of John Lydus) and in 1731 was rebuilt as Fort Lyman. It was renamed For Edward by Sir William Johnson during the French and Indian War in 1755.

Although the historic site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it has been largely forgotten, after the area was heavily contaminated with PCBs, and has fallen into disuse except for the Rogers Island Visitors Center. The Associated Press reported this week that three entities are hoping to purchase parts of the site including the Archaeological Conservancy, the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and archeologist David Starbuck, who has been excavating the site since at least 2001.

Rogers Island was also the base camp of Major Robert Rogers and his company of Rangers and it was there that he composed his “Ranging Rules” which form the basis of military tactics adopted by irregular fighting forces all over the world. The site is considered the birthplace of the U.S. Army Rangers. The fort fell to British forces under John Burgoyne in 1777 during the American Revolution.

The dredging project is in its fourth month of removing approximately 2.65 million cubic yards of Hudson Riverbed sediment contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). General Electric is believed to have dischargeed more than 1 million pounds of PCBs from its plants in Hudson Falls and Fort Edward into the Hudson River. The company then fought a legal, political, and media battle to avoid cleanup for nearly 20 years. GE fought the Superfund law in court and conducted a media campaign to convince the public that cleaning the toxic waste from the river would stir up PCBs. This week high levels of PCBs downriver slowed the dredging. GE was ordered by the EPA to clean up a 40-mile stretch of the Hudson River it contaminated in 2002.

Photo: Fort Edward from “A Set of Plans and Forts in Americas, Reduced From Actual Surveys” [1763]

Experience War of 1812 Sinking of Hamilton & Scourge


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Thursday, July 16, 2009, at 6 pm, War of 1812 sailor Ned Myers will be telling his lively tale of the sinking of the Hamilton & the Scourge at the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Discovery Center in Sackets Harbor, N.Y. To be completely accurate, an authentically costumed James H. Fischer will relate the story of the famous shipwrecks’ survivor in this presentation for the 2009 Great Lakes Seaway Trail Experience Series. Fischer’s presentation will also include a series of Jacques Cousteau slides of lake bottom vessels.


Seaman Myers lived to tell his story to noted American author James Fenimore Cooper. Fischer, a marine consultant who has studied the underwater history of Lake Ontario for 22 years, draws on Myers’ narrative as told to Cooper for A Life Before the Mast. Fischer shares fascinating details of the moments before a squall surprised captain and crew.

The wrecks of the two merchant ships – Hamilton, built as Diana in Oswego, NY, and the Scourge, originally Lord Nelson, were discovered in 1973 and are considered to have national historic significance to both the U.S. and Canada.

The $5 program fee benefits educational programming at the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Discovery Center, Ray and West Main Streets, Sackets Harbor, NY. For more information, visit www.seawaytrail.com or call 315-646-1000.

Photo: James H. Fischer in 19th century sailor’s dress is seen below the bust of U.S. merchant ship Diana purchased in Oswego and converted in Sacketts Harbour in 1812 as the US naval warship Hamilton.

Underwater Explorer Presents Lake Ontario Shipwrecks


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Noted shipwreck explorer Jim Kennard will present an all-day program on the “Shipwrecks of Lake Ontario” on Saturday, June 13 as part of the 2009 Great Lakes Seaway Trail Experience Series. Kennard’s discoveries have received worldwide attention and have been featured in National Geographic Magazine. The program at the “Red Barn” at the Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site on Hill Street in Sackets Harbor benefits the nonprofit Great Lakes Seaway Trail Foundation that promotes tourism-based learning experiences along the 518-mile-long freshwater shoreline of New York and Pennsylvania. The program fee for the day-long shipwrecks program on June 13th is $15 or $5/program payable at the door.

The waters of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail hold many of the more than 200 wrecks Kennard has discovered in more than 35 years of diving. Each of his four presentations on May 21st will focus on a different wreck that Kennard and exploration partner Dan Scoville have discovered over the past six years in Lake Ontario. The program begins at 10 am and will include presentations on:

“Discovery of the Steamer Homer Warren,”

“The Last Voyage of the Schooner Etta Belle,”

“Discovery of an Early 19th Century Lake Ontario Schooner,” and

“The Deep Water Shipwrecks of Lake Ontario.”

During each program Kennard will present a brief update & short video on HMS Ontario, a British sloop-of-war that sank in Lake Ontario on October 31, 1780, during the Revolutionary War. Kennard also be signing copies of the recently-published book “Legend of the Lake,” the story of the HMS Ontario.

Since 1970, Kennard has discovered shipwrecks in the Great Lakes, Lake Champlain, NY Finger Lakes, and Mississippi and Ohio rivers. Using his background as an electrical engineer, Kennard built the side scan sonar system that located the shipwrecks.

For more information on the Great Lake Seaway Trail and the Dive the Seaway Trail Project, visit www.seawaytrail.com or call 315-646-1000.