Digging Up History

During the summer of 2012, the Fenton History Center, in conjunction with the University at Buffalo Archaeological Survey, began searching for the lost landscape of Gov. Reuben Fenton’s estate, Walnut Grove. Evidence for several outbuildings was discovered and over 700 artifacts, some definitely Fenton related, were collected. In 2013 the excavation focused on a series of stone foundations located in the area of a presumed greenhouse structure, but it was determined to be a barn like structure from the same time as the 1863 Fenton Mansion.

This summer with the assistance of volunteers from the past two seasons and assistant professor of anthropology Shannon Bessette and JCC students, the project is uncovering a wide range of artifacts. Scheduled to run through September, the dig will be open to the public, both adults and children, for observation and participation.

Archaeology Day is Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine. This event will include a historic tour of the Fenton grounds, the findings of the Fenton dig to date and interacting with the volunteers conducting the dig.

“We are continuing to excavate the foundation of what we believe was most likely a barn built by the Fentons at the same time as the mansion (1863). It was obviously altered several times and has an associated well and cistern,” said Tom Greer. “We continue to uncover hundreds of artifacts, both household and farm related.”

The Fenton Mansion’s summer exhibit showcases artifacts from the Fenton property over the past two excavation seasons. Admission to the Fenton History Center museum is free on Archaeology Day.

A History Detectives camp focusing on the science of archaeology, for children entering grades 4-7, is scheduled for Aug. 11-15 from 1-4 p.m. each day. Students will be learning about the science of archaeology, dirt science, reverse archaeology and visiting Lake View Cemetery.

The Junior History Detectives camp for children entering grades 1-3 concluded this past week. The children observed the dig, cleaned artifacts and were engaged in many projects to learn about the science of archaeology.

Visit the Fenton History Center website (www.fentonhistorycenter.org) and the Archaeology at Fenton Mansion page where more information will be posted as it becomes available or call 664-6256.