The Sangamo Frontier: History and Archaeology in the Shadow of Lincoln

By Robert Mazrim | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOURTEEN
Exploring Moses's Sangamo
Excavations at Sangamo Town

Over the next two years out in the big field, I found many of the places that I had read about in court documents and deed records. I began to clarify how long they stood and a little about what they might have looked like. Most of the excavations at Sangamo Town, however, revealed details not found on paper—minute and prosaic aspects of daily life in the small frontier town along the river.

The age of the artifact sample from feature 1, and its proximity to the recent mechanical terracing of the nearby slope, prompted more testing in that area in hopes of locating additional period features that might be in the path of future erosion or erosion control. On an improbable slope at the head of a deep ravine, the tests soon encountered another feature, which was much larger and which had been damaged by erosion for over a century. The feature 2 cellar was bigger than most pit cellars of the period, measuring approximately eleven by eighteen feet. When it was constructed, the cellar was probably about four feet deep, and its walls and floor were probably left as unlined clay surfaces. The orientation of the large feature was not with the cardinal directions, but with the original town survey.

It was the end of August when I began troweling into the filled cellar. The ground had not been softened by rain for weeks, and the digging was very slow. The long grass surrounding the little windows in the ground was filled with grasshoppers, buzzing and falling into the excavations. My tools and notebooks lay in the grass, and at the end of one

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