Kay Sterling (descendant of the General),
top and Russ' mother, Eve, dig near the former kitchen site.
Jackie and I are not professional
archeologists. Early on in our ownership of the General's
home, however, we realized we had both a bit of a dilemma
and a responsibility. Whether it was landscaping or running
water or septic lines, whenever we were disturbing the earth,
we were displacing artifacts. We realized very quickly that
these remnants were a link to the past owners of the house,
including it's most famous resident. These artifacts were
every bit as important as the shadows or silhouettes, nail
holes and paint or wallpaper fragments that provided clues
for our interior restoration. We needed to be better stewards
of what was lying below the surface of the ground at the
General William Floyd House. We decided to go to school.
In August of 1989, Old Sturbridge
Village was offering a Member's Field School in Historical
Archeology at the James Clark Site in West Brookfield, Massachusetts.
Since our anniversary is August 8, I decided to give this
opportunity to my wife for an anniversary gift. Hmmmm. Well,
my heart was in the right place. We spent a week under the
very capable direction of the Village's archeology staff
and came away with a good basic knowledge of field work
and laboratory skills. One of the premises of archeology
that was presented and really hit home with us is that archeology,
by nature of its techniques is a disruptive science. This
fact, of course, makes the initial probe into the earth
the most important. We vowed, then and there, only to do
archeology ourselves when it was absolutely necessary i.e.
when an unrelated activity like digging a dry well trench
would permanently alter the integrity of the area in which
the activity was taking place. When we are forced to do
archeology, we committed ourselves to do the best job we
were capable of and to budget an adequate amount of time
for the task. The information and impressions that our digs
have revealed have been entered into a log book, the artifacts
cleaned, labeled and stored and the site work thoroughly
documented on film.
Since 1989, we have had to
do archeology in ten locations the largest of which was
a site 10' by 20' bordering what was the original kitchen
site. We have gained much information about the possible
location of the kitchen, brick pathways through the yard,
refuse disposal sites, location of possible slave quarters,
location of barns and the footprint of the front steps.
In the process, we have unearthed thousands of artifacts
which help shed light on the every day life of the occupants.
Many of these artifacts will be on display in the future
at the General William Floyd Center.