Historical Dig

On Friday, March 21, 2008, a small group of volunteers gathered to investigate what may be below the surface of the grounds surrounding the historic Campbell house, located on South Center Street in Longview. This group was led by two archeological stewards from the Texas Historical Commission, Bryan Boyd and Mark Walters. They were assisted by two students from the LeTourneau University History Department, Ryan Reynolds and Frank Batham.

The primary objective of this investigation was to begin research of the property soils in search of the original structures and any artifacts that would serve as historical “footprints.” This evidence would lead to a better overall knowledge of the property’s past inhabitants.

First, the present day lot size was measured for an initial layout. The water well was mapped in, using the southern center edge for a datum to lay out additional testing and mapping. A probe rod was utilized to locate hidden slabs or sidewalks.

Illustration AIllustration AThe first sub-surface shovel test began around the water well area. This location was chosen as a starting point because the area around a home’s water supply generally yields a better chance of finding evidence of the inhabitants’ lifestyle and would, therefore, provide a possible timeline. A sidewalk or foundation that surrounded the well was discovered. Along the southeastern edge of the slab, these volunteers removed a 35 by 35 cm block of sod. This sod was then screened through a 1/4" mesh, which revealed a large quantity of artifacts. The eventual depth of this test unit was taken to 16 cm and all soils were screened to remove any remaining artifacts. A total of nine shovel tests were executed in random sections of the property. All units were then mapped in and artifacts were collected.

Illustration BIllustration BThe volunteers concluded from this initial research that cultural evidence in situ is indeed shown. The residence did, in fact, have sidewalks, foundation slabs for outbuildings, and an asphalt driveway that took up a large portion of the southern lot. Garden landscaping,some visible and some just below the soil’s surface, was unearthed. Soils as deep as 60 cm along the northern fence line were dark in color. Perhaps this rich, organic matter was used in gardening.

Illustration CIllustration CArtifacts found included window pane glass, stained glass, one-inch tiles and a small bottle (see illustration A), wire nails, red ware, ironstone, square nails (see illustration C), ceramics, outside seat material (canvas), the neck of a corked bottle (see illustration B), bottle caps, and multiple types of bottle glass.

This site did indeed offer enough undisturbed features and artifacts to merit further investigation when more time and financing are available.