Recently, Bill Burns of Union, WV found the site of a Civil War camp occupied by Confederate soldiers. Many of the finds tell the story of Civil War camp life, including the .58 caliber Gardner bullet, carved into a chess piece, along with a flattened and marked lead gaming piece. Also found were pewter harmonica reeds, coins, buttons and buckles, including the fantastic brass Confederate “heavy frame” buckle. These would date prior to Federal occupation of the southern Greenbrier Valley, most likely circa 1861-63.
This 18th century iron cooking kettle was found in the yard at Byrnside’s Fort. Here it is next to a larger non-excavated example, which survived at a nearby fort site about 9 miles away. Usually you find them in much smaller pieces. These early examples generally have no markings on them, other than casting marks and designs. This example appears to have been used until completely worn out, and then buried in a nearby pit with other refuse. This was one of those simple necessities which would have been carried over the mountains via pack horse, utilizing precious cargo space. Therefore they were used until the bottom eventually failed, which is probably what happened with this kettle.
Yesterday we drove up to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to the Fort Pitt Museum. For the past two years they had a wonderful exhibit titled, “Pittsburgh, Virginia,” which focused on the events surrounding Lord Dunmore’s War in 1774, when the colonies of Pennsylvania and Virginia both challenged eachother for ownership of Fort Pitt, nearly resulting in Pittsburgh becoming part of Virginia. One of our flintlocks and a document signed by Lord Dunmore were on display there, and so we had to go retrieve them, but also got the awesome opportunity of seeing the exhibit while the museum was closed, and also leaving with two of the items. Thanks to Mike Burke for giving us the grand tour. This is such a fantastic museum, and I can’t wait to see the next exhibit coming out in 2023….
Recently, a friend of mine, Bill Burns, happened upon an early log cabin site just North of Union, West Virginia and Byrnside’s Fort. After finishing most of the preservation work on the items, he let me go through and photograph them. Sites like this provide interesting information on the lives of people in what was the remote frontier in the 18th century. It always blows my mind that you find these large fancy shoe buckles on the frontier.
My metal detecting buddy Bill Burns found this scrap of iron near the cave spring at Byrnside’s Fort. After finding it, he set it on top of a fence post, believing it to be farm junk. After noticing it on top of the fence about a year later, I immediately suspected this to be an early “Betty Lamp,” a type of grease-based lighting device. Basically an iron lamp with a bowl for some type of grease for fuel, a lid of some sort, and a spot for a wick. The shape is right. You can see that there was a hollow reservoir at some point, with a hinged lid. You can see the remnants of the curved upright handle, which would hang on an iron hanger of some sort. This would have been forged out of wrought iron by a blacksmith, and would be consistent with the lighting options available at Byrnside’s Fort during the fort occupation of the site, circa 1770-1782. It also could have been early 19th century. But it’s primitive construction suggests earlier, to me.
Some recent finds we acquired from the coastline of Michigan in the areas surrounding Fort Michilimackinac and L’ Arbre Croche. These are all from 18th and early 19th century American Indian village sites within the territory of the Ottowa tribe, which was heavily engaged in the fur trade with both the French and the British …
A popular tool in the days of the 18th century North American frontier was the “fire striker, or “strike-a-lite,” or “fire steel” or, well there are a number of names for these things. The purpose is obviously to start a fire. The design is simple: a piece of carbon steel, which is struck against a piece of flint, chert, or similar rock, thus making sparks, which would then fall onto some sort of tinder, thus creating fire.
Most trade axes found on French influenced archaeological sites were manufactured in France. The sites where trade axes were found coincides exactly with the areas where French influence was felt : Saint-Lawrence valley, the Richelieu and the Lac Champlain region, the Great-Lakes region, south of the Mississippi, etc. In isolated cases, a few French style axes have been found on the east coast of the United States. Some east coast areas must have had provisional, or secondary, trade routes for the French trade goods.