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Every bucket of lifted soil was hauled to the screens.Each artifact was painstakingly recorded and bagged for later lab study.
The documents connected the dots between generations.
Which led to more poking around, more holes, more finds and a yard that was looking more and more like Swiss cheese. State and federal archaeologists paid a visit, hatching plans for a proper excavation – the orderly, snail’s-pace kind that requires undisturbed soil. As winter dragged toward spring, the buried secrets steadily whispered: Each time I’d visit, the collection of buttons, bricks and bottle bits seemed to be taking up more of the kitchen counter.“You’re not still digging in the yard, are you? Eyreville might have been the southern end of their route, though no one can figure why the ships wouldn’t sail on across the bay and up the James River, where more markets awaited.
those traders were here might be the more interesting question, said Mike Madden, a U. forest service archaeologist who helped oversee the dig.
Known as Newport House back then, the property thrived under third owner William Kendall, an indentured servant who was not only industrious but clearly charming as well.
He married the widow of his master, then rose to become Speaker of the House of Burgesses in Jamestown. Heirs divided the land, others restored its boundaries, some scrapped over it in lawsuits.
Patricia Koppel and others excavate at an archaeological dig taking place at Eyreville, near Eastville, Virginia on May 17, 2017. The Buyrn family has owned Eyreville only since 1985, but they knew the property was steeped in history. In 2005, an international geology team spent months on the property, coring more than a mile deep into a 56-mile-wide underground crater that was blasted by a meteor 35 million years ago. They’re Dutch, along with many of the pipe pieces retrieved.
Koppel has volunteered at several archaeology projects across the country. And jetons – brass tokens once used for accounting that have rarely been found in this country. A rambling, unoccupied manor house – peeling plaster, creaking with ghost stories – dates to the mid-1700s. On that deep-time calendar, the 400-year-old artifacts in the yard were left there, like, yesterday. That raised the archaeologists’ eyebrows: Why are so many Dutch items here, on what was firmly English Colony turf?
People have been living, dying, loving and feuding on this soil – some of the richest farmland on the Eastern Shore – since at least 1635 when the first Englishman, John Howe, claimed it and then shortly expired.
The second owner didn’t live long either, and the land was sold at auction to pay off his debts.
“It’s the only way I really relax.”Johnson got hooked on archaeology a decade ago during a dig at the old courthouse in Eastville, where local records go back to 1632.
It’s the oldest continuous collection in the country.
In the stack of research papers compiled, the centuries fly by. During the Civil War, 600 Union soldiers – an elite force called Zouaves – were encamped somewhere on the property.