The Houston-LeCompt Site has had its share of complications as fieldwork has gone on. Saturday we arrived to find the site largely underwater due to torrential rains in the Middletown area. It was a long day of bucket bailing, shopping for a sump pump capable of removing that much water, putting up with wet clothes, and sloshing in wet boots. All of that fun archaeology stuff that never seems to make it into a History Channel documentary or Indiana Jones movie. The nature of working on a site that has been stripped of topsoil also means that rains generate a sheet wash along the surface that carries fine silt and clay particles with it, that always seems to find its way to the exact features we were working on before the rain. This sheet wash covers the exposed features with a layer of slimy red dirt that leaves us starting the feature clean up process all over again. Despite that, we have managed to move a lot of dirt, and are making our way through feature excavation. We are exposing more of the brick cellar walls, and getting deep down into well shafts. We also encountered a possible roasting pit with lots of charcoal and animal bone.
By Sunday we had the site partially drained, and dried out enough for an army of volunteers and observers. Over a dozen volunteers plus family members came out as we opened up the site, not only for serious archaeology work, but also as an interpretive site and community activity center. Kids young and old had a blast combing the back dirt piles for artifacts. Area residents who had been passing by the site for weeks got a chance to shovel dirt out of the piles, screen for artifacts, and wash them. A lady who had read about the site in the paper came to the site with her “LeCompte” family tree and coat of arms, which we photographed to see if historic research shows a connection between the previous owner James LeCompt and her family. What a difference a day makes when you have a good crew. Everyone on the Dovetail team did a great job of getting the public involved and going with the flow. Our thanks to the crew, and thanks to the great folks of the surrounding community!
The Houston LeCompt site this past Sunday