Digging Up a Bit of Stamford History!

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(Thanks to the Stamford Historical Society’s website for the photos.)

During the weekend of July 16th and 17th 2016, the Stamford Historical Society as well as volunteers from the public (including myself) will be descending upon the Hoyt Barnum House to take part in an archaeological dig. With it being Stamford’s 375th birthday this year and the house getting ready for its move up to the Society’s grounds, the dig is the perfect opportunity to take place in a piece of genuine Stamford history. This will be the 4th dig taking place at the house in 50 years…one having taken place in the 1960’s, one in 2002 and one done this past Spring by the Public Archaeology Lab.  Having written about Stamford’s oldest house before and being a lover of local history, I’m personally very excited and honored to be taking part in this dig.

As I previously wrote in my post The Stranger Side of Stamford: “Built in 1699 on land once owned by Munsee Indians, the Hoyt-Barnum house is the oldest home in Stamford. A true testament to the city’s founders, this wooden structure has held up through the roughest of New England weather for over 300 years. While the house itself is wood, the chimney was created of stone and (as per Stamford Historical Society) held together with such materials as mortar with clay, straw and animal hair.” This house, being only 58 years younger than the founding of Stamford, it has survived though hurricanes, floods, harsh Winters, wars and even the over development of the city itself.

Past digs on the property turned up such things as hand forged nails, shards of pottery and glass and even bones and shells. According to the Historical Society’s website, any larger items unearthed are preserved and housed at their location.

Why dig?

Stamford has an amazing history to it. This city was founded only 21 years after the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. Think about that! It really puts it into perspective doesn’t it?

So the question should be, why NOT dig?

With so much development going on around our fair city, there are few places left where we can unearth the secrets of our past. To find traces of how our founders lived their lives here. For example, I mentioned that shells were found in a previous dig on the grounds. Why is this significant when we live in a coastal city? Because even though the waterfront extended further inland in those days, the house itself was not located right on it and seafood such as clams and oysters were considered a ‘poor mans’ meal in those days. While you may go to your favorite restaurant now and freely order oysters as a mere appetizer for your dinner, back in the 1600’s, this was how they survived. And because they did, we have this city to call home now.

With the house moving to another location, this is the perfect time to explore, to learn and as is often said here at WOTM, to LEARN WHERE YOU LIVE! Learn how Stamford came to be. Learn who lived here before. Learn about who we have to thank for settling here and creating this place that is such an important part of our lives.

I’m including the information below from the Stamford Historical Society with the details on the dig and how you too can sign up to participate. There are limited spots, so please get your RSVPs in as soon as you can and come and get dirty with us as we dig deep into the past!

Hope to see you there!!

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WHAT LIES BENEATH?

 

(July 2016) Stamford, CT- Here’s your chance to experience hands-on archaeology in lower Fairfield County.  The Stamford Historical Society will be carrying out an archaeological dig at the Hoyt Barnum House property, 713 Bedford Street in Stamford, on Saturday, July 16th and Sunday, July 17th from 9AM- 3PM each day.  The Historical Society will provide trowels for digging, buckets, and basic instructions on how to dig.  You will be using 1/4″ mesh to screen all dirt.  This dig will be held by Executive Director Thomas Zoubek, who has a PhD from Yale University and has led multiple archaeological explorations.  Volunteers should wear appropriate clothing and should bring work gloves to keep their hands clean.  Call 203-329-1183 or contact info@stamfordhistory.org to reserve a place in this historic dig.

A professional dig by the Public Archaeology Lab (PAL) this spring located a number of interesting artifacts including 18th century pottery and an Indian Head Penny.  Who knows what you might uncover?  All finds will belong to the Stamford Historical Society and will contribute to the record and understanding of the Hoyt Barnum House (built 1699) and its inhabitants over the years.  Please bring your own refreshments/snack/lunch.  Sunscreen and a hat are recommended.  The dig will not take place if there is a thunderstorm and there will be no raindate.  Get ready to dig into history and get your hands dirty!

The Stamford Historical Society, located at 1508 High Ridge Road, is an educational and research institution whose primary functions are to collect, preserve, conserve, interpret, and exhibit materials relating to Stamford, Connecticut and the surrounding area.  As the City of Stamford’s history center, the Society is dedicated to providing opportunities for the community to understand and experience the past through the presentation of exhibits and displays, lectures, demonstrations, special events and participatory programs. For more information, call us at 203-329-1183 or visit our website at www.stamfordhistory.org.

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Info on the 2002 dig: http://www.stamfordhistory.org/adv_arch1.htm

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