Tagged with Artifacts:

Artifacts displayed in Bealeton

October 26, 2007

Fauquier times-Democrat (with permission) WEEKEND — lst Year, No. 43 – Friday, October 26, 2007 – Warrenton, Va.

An exhibit on the Elk Run Anglican Church Site preservation project in southern Fauquier County is currently on display at the Bealeton Library, 10877 Willow Drive North, (540) 439-9728.

The exhibit includes photos, a small case displaying some of the artifacts found at the site, and a 10-minute documentary, “Finding Our Foundation: The Preservation of the Elk Run Anglican Church Site.”

In the documentary, Ed Dandar, chairman of the Elk Run Church Site Preservation Committee, founded in 1999, and Jackie Lee, a volunteer historian, explain the history of the site.

The church began as a wooden structure in the 1740s and was later rebuilt in brick with a four-foot-wide stone foundation. The unearthed foundation revealed the church was built in the form of a Greek cross.

The church congregation declined after the Revolutionary War, and, once abandoned in the early 1800s, local villagers used its fallen bricks, wood and stones in the building of their homes. The site was overgrown until recently, and the church’s foundation and artifacts were hidden from view for about 200 years.

By the time the site’s historical marker was dedicated in 2000, colonial church historian Carl Lounsbury of the Williamsburg Foundation said, “I am deeply awed by all of you for creating history here.”

The documentary shows the church site being excavated by volunteers, many of whom have ancestral ties to the area. Under the direction of archaeologist John Eddins, himself a volunteer, teams have discovered many artifacts, including hand-wrought iron nails, earthenware, window glass, prehistoric arrow-heads and a prehistoric quartz scraper.

The committee is raising funds to convert the dig site to a historic church park. Plans include outlining the foundation with a colonial brick walk-way, building a year-round shelter for public viewing of a segment of the church foundation, and erecting interpretive signs.

Copies of “Finding Our Foundation” were donated to the library and to the county’s elementary schools. The library’s copy is available to check out. The committee also has an extensive Web site that includes historic maps, photos of the site and artifacts, and genealogical information.

            

Warrenton-Fauquier Visitor Center Display

February 15, 2007

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On February 15, 2007, the Elk Run Church Site Preservation Committee set up an exhibit of artifacts and photos at the Warrenton-Fauquier Visitor Center from the 1750’s Elk Run Church Archaeological Dig. The Visitor Center Manager, Becky Crouch, will be hosting the exhibit during the next several months along with other items of historical significance in celebration of the forthcoming 250th Anniversary of Fauquier County in 2009.

2005 Artifacts are Cleaned

March 21, 2006

cleaning-artifacts

During February and March 2006, artifacts recovered from the 2005 excavations were systematically cleaned, processed and grouped into common categories (stoneware fragments, arrow heads, glass, nails, etc.).

For an overview of Artifacts collected to date click here.

artifacts-grouping

Site Closes for Another Winter

December 20, 2005

Weather delays precluded completion of final measurements of the dig site. The measurements will be completed in spring 2006.

On December 20, 2005, the Dig Site was closed.

By the end of 2005, a total of 54 excavation units were uncovered and artifacts removed for further processing.

        

Elk Run Dig Nears Completion

May 9, 2005

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The Historiographer of the National Episcopal Historians and Archivists and The Historical Society of the Episcopal Church (reprinted with permission)
May 2005 – Vol. XLIII No. 2

Diocese of Virginia

What began as an attempt to clear brush uncovered the remains of what is believed to be the first brick church in the mid-18th century frontier of Fauquier County, Virginia. The Elk Run Anglican Church was built sometime in the late 1750s. It served as the mother church for Hamilton Parish, and its first rector was the Rev. James Keith. Today, the Preservation Committee, let by members of St. Stephen’s, Catlett, in collaboration with St. James’, Warrenton, is leading the archaeological effort to preserve the site.

Ned Browning, a descendant of Pastor Keith whose family acquired the church site in the 20th century, donated the land with the ruins of the church to St. Stephen’s. After his death in 1999, Edward F. Dandar, Jr., a retired Army colonel and St. Stephen’s historian, took charge of the excavation.

Over the past five years, 54 controlled excavation unites have been laid out and excavated under the supervision of volunteer archaeologist, Dr. John Eddins. Units #53 and #54 will be completed this summer. A digital survey of key excavation unit points was accomplished in 2004 and final excavation unit measurements will also be completed this summer. To date, found artifacts include handmade nails, ceramic dish fragments, 18th- and 19th-century coins, and Indian arrowheads dating back 4,000 years or more.

The all-volunteer archaeological team has confirmed that Elk Run Church was a rare Greek cross structure with roughly equal-sized extensions on all sides. The transition of the dig site into a historic park will happen later this fall. The original four food-wide foundation of the church will be outlined with Colonial bricks to reflect the actual size of the church. A designated section of the foundation has been selected to be enclosed with a Plexiglas-like material for year-round viewing once the site is converted into a park.

The Preservation Committee needs community volunteers this summer to complete the archaeological work. The site offers a unique opportunity not only to participate in “digging up some history,” but also to learn some fundamentals of archaeological work. Local citizens, church youth groups, Boy and Girl Scouts, 4H Club members are invited to participate in the project. The volunteers meet every Saturday during summer and fall, weather permitting.

For more information about this work, check out the Web site.

        

At Fauquier Church Site, Unearthing a Colony’s Past

August 9, 2004

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The Washington Post – Monday, August 9, 2004 (reprinted with permission)

By Lila Arzua

Working smoothly and systematically, a dozen volunteers carefully unearthed the remains of an 18th-century church in Fauquier County. Several knelt on the ground and used sharpened trowels to expose the stone foundation. Others collected the loosened dirt and sifted it in search of artifacts, using a special high-powered magnet to separate out earth-encrusted relics.
Finds were methodically placed in plastic bags and labeled with the precise location of each discover.

Despite its regimented approach, the team of excavators at the Elk Run Anglican Church site is an unusual one. Only one member is a professional archaeologist; the rest are passionate amateurs.

“You might find something no one else has and change something everybody else thought,” said 12-year-old-Melanie Fuechsel, a seventh-grader who hopes to become an archaeologist. As she sifted through loose dirt, she spotted what she thought might be a piece of quarts. Upon further inspection, the object turned out to be a fragment of a small coin – a Spanish real, minted in Seville in the 1730s.

Every Saturday during the summer, anyone who wants to can comb through the remains of Elk Run Anglican Church and participates in archaeological study usually reserved for experts.

“All the bits and pieces, the nails and the pottery, rubble and glass tell us the history about Colonial Virginia church life,” said Brenda Branscome, a former history teacher who says her interest in archaeology began years ago in the sandbox. She has spent three seasons digging at the site.

A number of the volunteers, in fact, are still in elementary school. On a recent Saturday, Richard Loving of Catlett brought a troop of Scouts, including his sons – Bailey, 9, and Marshall, 7 – and promised them a fishing trip after a morning of digging.
With his father’s help, Marshall concentrated on brushing the dust off a half-buried brick. Bailey, who had helped at the site before, chose his favorite task – pushing buckets’ worth of soil through the sifter.

“I get to play in the dirt,” bragged Bailey, pulling his arms from the mound of earth he was coaxing through a large square sieve. He proudly showed off a piece of glazed brick.

Elk Run Anglican Church was one of the earliest churches in the Piedmont area of Virginia. It was built during the 1750s, replacing a wooden chapel on the site. The first rector was the Rev. James Keith, who was the maternal grandfather of John Marshall, chief justice of the United States.

Ned Browning, a descendant of Pastor Keith’s whose family came to own the church site in the 20th century, donated the land and the ruins of the church to St. Stephen’s, an Episcopal church about 10 miles north in Catlett. Browning died of cancer in 1999. Edward F. Dandar Jr., a returned Army colonel and the historian of St Stephen’s, has been in charge of the excavation since.

Starting in late spring, Dandar dedicates nearly every weekend to managing the dig, taking off the waterproof tarpaulin that protects the site during the week, coordinating the corps of volunteers and cataloguing the finds, which have included pottery shards, 3000-year-old arrowheads and pieces of a German 18th-century porcelain jug. In the winter, volunteers pack the site with hay until the next digging season and concentrate on cleaning and identifying artifacts.

Since 2000, archaeologist John Eddins, 52, has donated his expertise to the excavation.

Eddins said that inviting volunteers from the community to help dig is becoming an increasingly popular way to pursue projects that don’t have funding. The trick, he said, is to make sure that the helpers, both young and old, are properly trained and monitored.

For example, at first it was difficult to discern what was foundation and what was the ruble around it. Volunteers were taught to use a specialized probe to gently tap away dirt and rocks to expose the original wall without destroying it.

“A lot of times, folks go out there and just dig, and the information isn’t recorded properly and then lost” at unsupervised digs, Eddins said.

While further study is necessary to determine the height and appearance of the church, Eddins and others speculate that is somewhat resembled Aquia Church in Stafford, another brick cruciform church that was build in the 1750s and remains open as an Episcopal church.

The group’s goal is to finish digging by October and then to get the permits necessary to uncover the graves in the adjacent cemetery and conduct DNA tests on some of the remains. The plan is eventually to build a historic park where church services might be held. Dandar envisions the outline of the foundation protected with a layer of Colonial bricks, with a corner section enclosed in Plexiglas-like material for the public to examine.

“It’s provided us with a living expression of faith that was here long before the Episcopal church,” said the Rev. Roma W. Maycock, who had been the rector of St. Stephen’s for 19 years. Working in gardening gloves and khakis, she has found her share of glass shards in the soil.

Maycock said that while the endeavor has strengthened an appreciation for the past among newcomers and longtime residents, sustaing the congregation’s interest – and drawing others to the project – has become a challenge as the years go by.
“We want things so fast in our society, it’s hard to have the patience required for thorough, diligent archaeology,” she said.

                

1730s Spanish Coin Found

July 24, 2004

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On July 24, 2004 community volunteers working at the Elk Run Dig under the direction of Archeologist, Dr. John Eddins, discover a piece of a 1730s Spanish coin.

        

Help Us Finish the Elk Run Project

July 14, 2004

The Fauquier Times-Democrat, Wednesday, July 14, 2004 (with permission)

It all began in 1998 when a neighbor started clearing brush from the Elk Run property. Less than a year later, members of St. Stephen’s Church in Catlett began to uncover the remains of what is believed to be the first brick church in Fauquier County’s mid-1700s frontier.

The Elk Run Anglican Church was built sometime in the 1750’s. It served as the mother church for Hamilton Parish and its first rector, the Rev. James Keith, was the grandfather of Chief Justice John Marshall.

The Elk Run Church Site Preservation Committee, led by members of St. Stephen’s, Catlett in collaboration with St. James, Warrenton, is leading the archaeological effort to preserve this colonial church site.

Over the last five years, 50 controlled excavation units have been laid out and five remain to be excavated this summer. Volunteer archaeologist, Dr. John Eddins, completed the digital survey of key excavation unit points on July 10, and designated a section of the foundation to be enclosed for year-round viewing once the site is converted into a Historic Park. To date, found artifacts include handmade nails, ceramic dish fragments, 19th century coins and Indian arrowheads dating back 4000 years or more. Some of these artifacts can be viewed in a display case at the Old Jail Museum in Warrenton.

The all-volunteer archaeological team has confirmed that Elk Run Church was a rare Greek cross structure with roughly equal sized extensions on all sides. At least two other pre-Revolutionary Anglican churches in Virginia – Aquia and Abingdon – were built in the cruciform plan.

The Preservation Committee needs community volunteers this summer to complete the archaeological work. The Site offers a unique opportunity for citizens to not only participate in “digging up some history,” but also learn some fundamentals of doing archaeological work.

The volunteers meet every Saturday, weather permitting. Summer and fall “dig hours” are from 8:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. You can join them anytime during that period.

Participants should wear work clothes and hats suited to the weather, and bring gloves, kneeling pad, and a bag lunch. Tools, water, hot coffee, tea, and snacks are provided.

Local citizens, Church youth groups, Boy Scouts, 4H Club members, are invited to participate in this community historical project. The Dig Site is located 100 yards west of the intersection of State Route 806 and State Route 610.

The Elk Run Web Site has been recently updated and a new Homepage design implemented. The web site provides photos, research, genealogy information, historical maps, and progress to date.

Further information can be obtained by contacting Ed Dandar by email (efdandar@us.net) or telephone (703-791-6158).

            

Small Artifact Case on Display

May 17, 2003

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On May 17, 2003, an Elk Run Church Artifact exhibit using this Small Display Case was held for the public during the annual Nokesville Day.

Even More Cleaning

April 20, 2003

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During February and April 2003, artifacts recovered from the 2002 excavations were systematically cleaned, processed and grouped into common categories (Rhenish stoneware, clothing items, glass, nails, etc.).