Friday, June 19, 2009

Today was the 1st Father’s Day in 1910 or some experience in human “bones” in archaeology…not 1st woman in space 1983

I have had some experience in that aspect of archaeology, though not directly as described. A unmarked Shaker cemetery outside Dayton, Ohio was disturbed by bulldozers where it was thought not to be. The Ohio "Watervliet Shaker" community was named after the Shaker Society founding in New York state. Arriving 8/6/1774, as "conscientious objectors" they settled near Albany, NY in Watervliet in 1776, ("Shaker 'family' formed") creating the "Shaker Society". The first organized Shaker Society community was in New Lebanon, NY in 1788. They later occupied the Ohio site (and others in other states) until the early decades of the 20th century, selling brooms, seeds, and other handcrafts. There was some connection with evaporated milk that made them pretty rich one source stated. A few Shaker individuals are reported to exist in Maine. (Ed. see - "Cohen, the Boston Camerata, and the Shakers" - Joel Cohen is "founder" of "World Music Day" celebrated on the Summer Solstice on June 21, this year. See: Fête de la Musique Wikipedia) Almost a 1000 acres were left in Ohio for the “greater good” in this case a proposed technology "research park" near Kettering. The phase I worked on was as a supervisor of three backhoes and two others to document that though they had disturbed the cemetery where they thought it not to be, and today still is, where we were, through ground penetrating radar survey, excavations and "total station" recording in the State Plane coordinate system, was where the proposed Dayton Power and Light research site could go. No evidence of burials, despite the newly placed granite monument reckoned from historical research and surveyor's notes relocation were found in the 2.1 miles of trenches dug over 10 days in part through their old apple orchard, at the hot end of a cool summer. I provided a map in the field for the company attesting to the trenches and clearance. I later assisted the documentation of a partially disturbed Old Dutch Reformed cemetery on a Hudson River terrace, whose headstones were said to have been moved and replaced for plowing and corn every year, those locations however "forgotten" in "Bowdoin Park" which had once been a summer home of financier, J. P. Morgan. A part was a fallen rock overhang prehistoric site excavated by the State Archaeologist Robert Funk and another part excavated by local archaeologists. The area ceded from the county was disturbed by the clearing for a sewerage treatment plant. In Dutchess county's only park, near Poughkeepsie, NY the disturbance occurred after the permitted and reviewed earlier archaeology testing had been done in phases by different consultants. I took photos from a ladder to document individual burials after topsoil stripping to assist with the analysis with “gridded" frames (string grids). Only the construction disturbed ones were removed and reburied after analysis. The others became part of the new delineated 1/2 acre set-aside once thought from previous testing to be only 1/4 acre, though the contractor I learned in hindsight, had been notified by a local historian of it's thought larger graveyard from the deed from the church authorities. I had worked on the archaeology of another part of the ceded park parcel, there in winter under a greenhouse and generator for heat towed in on toboggan. Once a ferry landing, and thought earliest settlement in "Dutchess County" it was impacted by the railroad running alongside the east shore of the Hudson River. Later used as a "boys reform farm" whose elderly caretaker had been fired before allowed to replace the headstones where they had been, according to the story. They ended up in the county highway department garage. Another area was in the research, testing and later excavation of the "First Almshouse Cemetery" in New York City's "City Hall Park" part of the "Commons and African Burial Ground Historic District" designated by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. I worked for three different archaeology firms on different short-term aspects of it before the 1999 impacts due to the construction or recreating of the 19th century "atmosphere" of City Hall Park, which included security enhancements, i.e, disappearing bollards, etc. in 1999. The US Federal government would later declare the "African Burial Ground" a National Monument after much contested debate. The small "First Almshouse Cemetery" under the "Commons" apparently, disturbed in the site improvements between City Hall and the so-called "Tweed Courthouse" were left in situ as much as possible after excavation, recording and the same treatment for preservation as used in the African Burial Ground site. I also worked at an earlier phase of testing, and in a deep re-excavation of a old power conduit trench, replaced through Chambers Street and into the park and to the “Tweed Courthouse” now the headquarters for the Dept. of Education but at the time a proposed location for the “Museum of the City of New York” which has expanded at its current location since, uptown. The “power” trench from the beaux arts Surrogate Court (formerly “Hall of Records” where an uncle perished in an elevator crash while in a wheelchair just before my father was to ship out to Europe in WWII, and after “boot camp” given a week “grief leave”. The case was handled by the famous lawyer Basil O’Connor, a defender of the handicapped under FDR, my aunt’s husband once a clerk in FDR’s law firm. The family got $5000, “a lot of money in those days”. He worked there with my grandfather, a real estate reporter, my father the youngest of eleven, born on Water Street.) The trench to the courthouse also involved the search for human remains, bits said to be found in excavation nearby the steps of what should be called the “Mayor Fernando Wood” or “Wood” courthouse, he began it, the Civil War delayed it, however and later “Boss” Tweed’s cronies gave it the reputation. Lastly I helped layout the grid for the ground-penetrating radar at the minimum security facility in Secaucus, NJ, for the "Secaucus Transfer Station" I think it is called and familiar with the research done on it by Joan Geismar, PhD. A large public cemetery part of the “work farm” and county hospital at “Snake Hill” (a volcanic outcrop) in the Meadowlands. It was to have been moved before, the county M.E. had a company who he said did, they investigated, found not to be true, put the M.E. on trial but who died of a heart attack before the case could be finished and determined who and where had been moved to where. It was in the news when better forensics was demanded by one of the ascendants, a nephew of one in the graveyard who was located and reburied. Worked on by the Berger Group, Inc., I worked with one who worked on it in Battery Park on the "swing shift" during the new subway “cut and cover” tunnel construction there. Out of the blue I was fired by the NJ firm working for the MTA for having a blog, just prior to the citywide MTA strike. As you can see, my experience is not in the removals, but I tend to agree with the Iroquois Council, if at all possible don’t move burials. That came after the salt mines collapsed on Lake Cayuga in Myers, NY and when another salt source was found for New York’s winter highways, further west near Letchworth State Park, they when consulted requested that the two there not be moved. Different than what I heard about requests for native soldiers buried in foreign lands be returned to reservations which spurred the NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) former President G. H. W. Bush signed, once a member of the Yale University (whose archeology I studied) “Skull and Bones” that’s alleged to have disturbed the remains of the Apache leader, Geronimo and keeps them in their windowless headquarters. A former professor Marvin K. Opler, PhD, his son a GP MD in the Bronx, his brother Morris Opler, PhD (the doctor’s uncle) studied the long distance kinship structure of the Apache for his doctorate at the University of Chicago and brought briefs to the US Supreme Court over the illegal internment of people of “race” in WWII. Later when settling with Japanese-Americans, the government admitted to “racism”. Others taken from seventeen other countries however have never been recompensed in any way. Skull and Bones sued over Indian chief’s remains

No comments:

Post a Comment