3: Introduction


New Philadelphia



2004 Archaeology Report Contents

Background History
3 The Archaeology
Oral Histories

2004 Archaeology Report

Chapter 3


3: Introduction
3: Block 3
3: Block 7
3: Block 8
3: Block 9
3: Summary


New Philadelphia : 2004 Archaeology Report






Paul Shackel



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Following is an overview of the archaeology performed by the summer 2004 NSF-REU program.  A large proportion of the archaeological data comes from the plow zone and is descriptive in nature, although we did discover several sub-plow zone contexts that reveal clues about the town’s growth and development.  These features provide an opportunity to create a more detailed analysis of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century lifeways in New Philadelphia and they also allow us to move forward to nominating the town site to the National Register of Historic Places.  Each year we will provide a general overview of the season’s work, and the final analysis will occur after the third and final year of the NSF-REU program.



Likes Land Surveyors, Inc. of Barry, Illinois assisted greatly in the exploration of New Philadelphia.  They located the original plat and imposed the town plan over the existing topography, marking the boundaries of the town, blocks, and lots.  Likes Land Surveyors, Inc. then produced a map, which was overlain on an existing aerial photograph (similar to Figure 3.1), which then guided our initial archaeological survey in the fall of 2002 and the spring of 2003 (Gwaltney 2004).




Figure 3.1. 1998 Aerial Photograph of New Philadelphia site with an overlay of the block, lot and street boundaries. The large numbers are the Blocks and the smaller numbers are the lots. (Image courtesy, Natalie Armistead and overlay by Christopher Fennell.)


In order to create an excavation and research strategy, the archaeology team decided that a pedestrian survey should be the initial phase of work.  The survey would help find artifacts on the surface and allow the team to determine which areas were settled within the town proper.  New Philadelphia is approximately 42-acres, and prior to this survey the archaeology team asked the New Philadelphia Association to plow the fields that have already been disturbed by prior agricultural activities. They plowed on the average of 0.25ft to 0.5ft deep and covered about 26 acres.  This plowing allowed for greater than 75% ground visibility in the fields.  The archaeology team did not survey about 2 acres of protective prairie grasses that surrounded the several remnant foundations.  About 3 acres of privately owned land did not get surveyed.  An additional 9 acres was not surveyed because of terracing for soil conservation, existing historic roads, tree cover, and coverage by part of an artificial pond.  The walkover survey was conducted over the newly plowed fields (Gwaltney 2004).

The walk over survey under the field supervision of Joy Beasley and Tom Gwaltney (see Gwaltney 2004) provides important information that furnishes artifact distributions over the site.  The clustering of artifacts shows distinct patterns that are highly informative for understanding the town’s settlement (Figure 3.2).  The analysis of the plow zone data indicates that there are large concentrations of artifacts found within the lots bordering along Broad Way and Main St. in Blocks 3 (lots 3-6), 4 (lots 1, 2, and 8), 7 (lot 1), 8 (lots 1-8), 9 (lot 5), and 13 (lots 3 and 4).  Blocks 4 (1856), 8 (1844), and 7 (1854) have the earliest mean ceramic dates and Block 9 has a mean ceramic date of 1858.  Very little work-related materials, like tools associated with blacksmithing, are present in the assemblage (Gwaltney 2004).



Figure 3.2. Distribution of historic artifacts found at New Philadelphia (from Gwaltney 2004).



Kitchen wares tend to have the higher proportion of artifacts in each of these blocks and it provides some indication that each of these blocks included domestic structures.  A 1939 aerial photograph shows a domestic structure on Block 7, although the relatively larger proportion of architectural vs. kitchen artifacts identified may indicate that the structure was occupied for a relatively shorter time than the other houses.  An oral history with one of the town’s neighbors suggests that the house was abandoned in the early twentieth century (Burdick 1992) and it was dismantled in the 1930s because of its derelict condition and the desire to transform the land into agricultural use. 


While the archaeological data from the walk over survey are from a plowed context, the artifacts provide some very important information that guided our excavation strategies.  This information indicates that there is a high probability of locating the past, domestic occupations of the town. 


After determining the areas of highest artifact concentrations, a geophysical survey was performed by Michael Hargrave (CERL).  This work indicates the presence of subsurface anomalies and it allowed the archaeology team to concentrate excavation units on more specific areas of the town site (see Hargrave report).  


In general we have a very good sense of land ownership (based on deed research) and the general population of the town (based on census data).  Based on the historical documentary evidence, archeological survey, and geophysical survey, the archaeology team chose to work in four areas of the town site, including: Block 3, Lot 4; Block 7, Lot 1; Block 8, Lot 4; and Block 9, Lot 5. 


During five weeks of the 2004 summer field season students completely excavated 18 excavation units to subsoil or to the top of a feature. The nine NSF-REU students were divided into three teams with one supervisor for each team.  The archaeology team used engineers scale since it is the most commonly used form of measurement in historical archaeology.  The archaeology work then proceeded in two steps.  First, a form of sampling using 5ft x 5ft excavation units retrieved data from the town lot and gave us a sense of the plow zone, subsurface features and artifact concentrations.  Once we established a sense of subsurface artifact concentrations and feature locations, students proceeded with a larger block excavation using 5ft x 5ft excavation units.  Since the area was mostly plowed, these excavations proceeded quickly until the archaeology team encountered subsurface features and/or undisturbed sub-plow zone stratigraphy.  Features, such as pits, were bisected and excavated according to stratigraphy, and the team systematically collected samples for flotation in order to retrieve archaeobiological data. 


The artifacts were analyzed and grouped into several megastrata.  Megastrata I is a mixed context that includes the plowzone.  Megastrata II  is an undisturbed late nineteenth century context and megastrata III is a mid-nineteenth century context.  The subsoil, where no cultural activities occurred is designated megastrata B.


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Lab work and analysis

After five weeks of fieldwork the teams performed five weeks of laboratory work and analysis at ISM with museum staff members serving as mentors.  Students cleaned, labeled, and identified archaeologically retrieved data. The data were entered into a computer database.  Students then performed a minimum vessel analysis for the archaeological materials found in undisturbed contexts.  Students also learned stabilization procedures for archaeobiological specimens. Marjorie Schroeder (ISM) mentored students during the  SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1macrofloral analysis.  The students processed soil samples through a flotation device in order to recover archaeobotanical remains, small-scale animal remains, and very small artifacts such as glass beads.


Terrance Martin mentored the NSF-REU students with the identification of animal remains and demonstrated various ways of categorizing anatomical elements as cultural entities (skeletal portions and butchering units), recognizing natural modifications (e.g., carnivore and rodent-gnawing) and cultural modifications (burning, sawed or chopped margins, and knife-cuts), and quantifying faunal assemblages in terms of specimen counts, minimum numbers of individuals, and biomass (Figure 3.3).



Figure 3.3. Dr. Terrance Martin, Curator, Illinois State Museum, Instructs students in faunal identification. (Courtesy, Paul A. Shackel.)


The development of collegial relationships and interactions is an important part of this NSF-REU project.  For 10 weeks students worked together in a collaborative fashion, using scientific methods to collect data and analyze it.  While we encouraged a sense of team work, mentors were always present showing students how to develop and change methods when necessary, analyze data, and think about the results of their work.  This relationship ensured the development of student-faculty interaction and student-student communication.



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At present it is difficult to precisely identify the past occupants of each of the lots that we excavated.  Recently, Natalie Armistead, a member of the New Philadelphia Association, has located the Hadley Township records, and once these are copied and transcribed we will have a better idea of the owners, renters, and general improvements to each of the lots that we studied. Below is a list of the deed transaction and the census data for each of the lots and blocks where the archaeology team worked.  The deed information provides us with details of ownership for each lot.  While ownership does not necessarily mean that the owners resided on that property, when we examine additional information, like census data, we become more confident in our ability to identify the particular occupants of a lot in different time periods.  The Hadley Township tax records, once transcribed, will also be a tremendous help.  While there still may be some remaining doubt about the identity of the family that occupied a specific lot and the chronology of occupation, nevertheless, a clearer picture of the site’s settlement patterns will develop. 


While we know a tremendous amount about the McWorters and their association with the development of New Philadelphia, the archaeology provides a voice to the many occupants about whom we know very little.  The archaeology helps contribute to the social history of the town and provides clues related to health, diet, social interaction and consumer behavior. For a more detailed description of the archaeology, see the Unit Summaries set forth in Appendix A. The following section is an overview of some of the features and artifacts found on the four lots in which excavations were conducted this summer.  This section is then followed by a list of deed and census data and a description of the archaeology for each particular lot.  This description helps us form a preliminary understanding of the use and development of these portions of the New Philadelphia town site.


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2004 Report Contents



Robert Mazrim’s (2002:161-172) synthesis of historic sites found on the Illinois frontier provides a comparison for understanding the archaeology in New Philadelphia.  His work focuses on the identification of features and artifacts found on Illinois frontier sites. While his work is helpful for understanding the earliest settlement of New Philadelphia, it also serves as  baseline for the later archeological materials found at the site.  Useful for this project is Mazrim’s (2002) identification of three types of feature pits that could be found in a rural frontier site.  This information is used here as a guideline for the New Philadelphia site.


In frontier Illinois there may have been little need for refuse pits, but as towns developed refuse disposal became more prominent. Hogs and other wild animals, like dogs, raccoons and small rodents, may have roamed the grounds of New Philadelphia, devouring food remains.  A preliminary review of the 2004 faunal assemblage shows a considerable amount of rodent gnawing. Other materials, such as ceramics, bottles, and architectural remains were probably disposed in areas farthest from the house and probably close to property boundaries.  Whether a frontier, a developing rural community, or an urban area, pits such as cellars, storage areas, or privy vaults, would eventually be filled after their primary functional uses were no longer needed. This fill would still consist of surrounding soils and debris.  Sometimes this filling occurred before abandonment of the original function, although in rural contexts it probably occurred more often after abandonment.  For instance, a cellar pit may function as a place to store goods under the floor of a cabin, but after the building is abandoned and the cabin torn down or salvaged for materials, the cellar would be filled with either the remaining architectural debris, or with trash from the surrounding area. The identification of artifacts and their known manufacturing dates provides a good indication of the feature’s secondary use. 



The early settlement houses on the Illinois frontier tended to be log cabins.  For instance, John Woods, an English immigrant who settled the area after the War of 1812, described in detail the 16ftx18ft log structure built by one of his neighbors.  These early houses were generally one story.  Two doors were placed on opposite sides of the house and the chimney placed at the end.  The chimney was constructed of wood and plastered on the inside with either clay or loam.  Stone or clay lined the hearth.  Another cabin built in 1817 in the Wabash Valley was described as being 12ft x 14ft with an earthen floor.  A chimney did not exist, but rather there was a space between the clapboards so that the smoke could escape.  Some cabins also had a loft or attic space for storage (from Mazrim 2002:18-19).


Subfloor Pit Cellars

Cellar pits tend to be geometric in plan and usually one to three feet below the plow zone.  Phillippee and Walters (1986) note that some mid-nineteenth century sub floor features measured 5ft x 7ft, and most measuring 8ft x 12ft.  Charles Faulkner (1986) observed pit cellars measuring 6.5ft x 5ft, 8ft x 8ft, and 10ft x 15ft.  Mazrim (2000:163) notes that several frontier era pit cellars in Illinois measured from 3 ft to 9 ft wide by 6 ft to 11.5 ft long.   These features tend to have flat bases and straight walls, although the sides may have slumped to provide a concave shape.  The pit cellars tend to fall into two categories.  The first are wide and shallow and could have been used as crawl spaces. The second type tends to be smaller and more regular in dimension, but deeper.  Remains of such pits tend to extend 1.0 ft to 2.0 ft below the base of the plow zone.


At New Philadelphia archaeologists located one subfloor pit cellar in Block 9, Lot 5.  It measured about 5.0 ft by 5.0 ft and existed to a depth of 0.5 ft below the plow one.  This cellar pit may be shallower than the ones identified by Mazrim since the plow zone may be a bit deeper than most sites (see below for more detail).  A structure stood over the feature until the 1940s and the feature was filled with surrounding trash related to a late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century occupation.


Exterior Crop-Storage Pits

Exterior Crop-Storage Pits served to store fruits and vegetables during the winter months. A shallow hole would be excavated, crops stacked, and covered with straw, branches and soil to insulate it from frost. When the family needed food the covering would be pulled back in one section and vegetables could be retrieved.  These pits are often found near wells or near fence lines and they tend to be more oval and/or oblong in shape when compared to pit cellars and can be up to 1.0 ft deeper than the base of the plow zone (Mazrim 202:163-165).


Privy Vaults

Mazrim (2002:168) has identified several features that he has identified as privy vaults.  While these features are difficult to identify it appears that many located in a rural setting may have been shallow and periodically shoveled out through a rear trap door.  While they tend to be geometric in shape, they are also smaller in size when compared to pit cellars and they are no more that 1.0 ft deeper than the base of the plow zone. While expecting to find fecally-deposited seeds such as blackberry and raspberry, Mazrim suggests that these seeds are non-staple foods and are not a significant part of the frontier diet of the 1830s and 1840s. 


Material Goods

St. Louis served as a major port of entry for consumer goods for the region.  Ceramics from Great Britain and redware and stoneware vessels from places like Louisville, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh found their way to the inland regions via St. Louis. 


By the 1830s the markets expanded considerably.  In 1832 steamboats connected to Chicago and eastern ports were connected to the Midwest via the Erie Canal and the city of Buffalo.  Work on the Erie Canal in New York State eventually spurred canal projects in Illinois and eventually bound Illinois to northeastern markets.


By the 1850s the increased transportation and communications development effectively closed the Illinois frontier.  For instance, in 1834 about 230 steamboats traveled through the Mississippi and its tributaries and by 1848 about 1,300 navigated through the waters. 


In 1851, for example, Chicago shipped nearly 40 percent of the corn entering Buffalo, over 42 percent of the oat, over half the wheat, nearly 54 percent of the bacon and hams, nearly 57 percent of the beef, nearly two-thirds of the corn.  Chicago, moreover, shipped over 22 percent of the furs, nearly half the hides, and over 99 percent of the buffalo robes (Davis 1998:358).


By the end of the decade Chicago shipped over 18 million bushels of grain.  The Midwest economy became a major player in developing the American capitalist economy.  The Illinois and Midwest region was no longer isolated and other regions depended on its products (Davis 1998).



Stoneware and redware vessels are rare on Illinois sites that predate 1835 and their presence does not increase until steamboats commerce increases. “Food storage vessels consist of small to medium-capacity pots and jugs.  Food preparation vessels consist primarily of multipurpose, deep kitchen bowls” (Mazrim 2002:217).  Milk pans can also be found at sites, although their quantities are low.  The lack of regional potters in the first quarter of the nineteenth century meant that crockery vessels are almost non-existent on these early sites.  Many of these vessels do not appear in the archaeological record until about the 1830s (Smith and Bonath 1982:937).  Illinois redware potters primarily made utilitarian kitchenwares prior to the 1840s, such as pots, bowls, and jugs. Local potters in the German communities of Quincy’s post frontier era provided the area with an array of objects for cooking such as pipkins, mush mugs, porringers, herb pots, or bean pots (Mazrim 2002:245, 265).  The available redware assemblages became much more elaborate. Stoneware was not made in any quantity in Illinois until the mid-1830s (Mounce 1989). Food service vessels, such as table plates and bowls are prevalent on early nineteenth-century domestic sites.  Chamber pots and apothecary vessels are also common, while yellowware vessels tend to be rare (Mazrim 2002). 


Yellowware is a simple hollowware form that was first manufactured in England in the late eighteenth century and by the 1830s potters in New Jersey and Vermont manufactured this type of ceramic.  By the 1840s potters in Ohio and Indiana produced it, and by the 1850s potters manufactured it in Illinois (Ramsey 1939).  By the mid- to late-nineteenth century yellowware (1830-1900) became a popular ceramic used as a container in the area of New Philadelphia.  Several of these vessel types have a banded design. The largest quantity of utilitarian wares (used for food storage) found is buff pasted stonewares (1840-1900).   Most of the refined earthenware ceramics (used for dining and serving) found at New Philadelphia tended to be undecorated whitewares (1820-1900) and a few transfer prints have been identified.  The most common print design is blue, while pieces of brown, black, cranberry and green transfer prints are also present throughout the town.  Most of the shell edge pieces are painted with molding (Figure 3.4).


Figure 3.4. Ceramics from the New Philadelphia site. Clockwise from top left: undecorated whiteware, banded yellowware, sponge-decorated whiteware, and hand painted whiteware. (Courtesy, Gary Andrashko, Illinois State Museum.)



Generally, the proportion of refined earthenware shards (and vessels from the features) is much higher than course earthenwares found at New Philadelphia.  In the sites examined by Mazrim (2002:248) he finds that the ratio of refined earthenwares to utilitarian wares is no less than 5:1.  While this ration might be surprising for sites established in a frontier context and counter our beliefs about life on the frontier, it is really the norm since these places were well connected to eastern ports.  On the other hand, several sites in western Pennsylvania, dating to about 1790-1840 and closer to the eastern ports, have a much higher proportion of course earthenwares (Mazrim 2002).  This phenomenon may be attributed to members of the German communities relying more heavily on established local redware potters for their tableware ceramics.



Container glass is rare on pre-1835 rural sites in Illinois.  The archaeological assemblages tend to be small, unidentifiable, and aqua shards.  They are most probably medicine bottles or glass vessels used for household chemical products (Mazrim 2002:219).  Olive green glass containers tended to hold wine and other spirits.


During the late nineteenth century occupation at New Philadelphia most of the container glass is highly fragmented from being part of the plow zone, and the original function is difficult to discern.  There is a portion of an aqua green scroll flask container that would have come from a pear-shaped vessel with an oblong base.  There are a wide range of scroll flasks manufactured in the middle of the nineteenth century, all with pear-shaped bodies and stylized designs.  Some were made as early as the beginning of the 1830s and most were manufactured from 1840 to 1855 and were produced in the Midwest (Spillman 1883:38).  At present we do not know if the original occupants transported this object when they came to New Philadelphia, or if it was purchased after the occupants settled the town.  It was found in a late nineteenth-century context in Block 9, Lot 5.  Since it was manufactured in the mid-nineteenth century and disposed of at a much later date it may have been a family possession for several decades before being discarded (Figure 3.5).



Figure 3.5. The remains of a scroll flask found in Block 9, Lot 5. (Courtesy, Gary Andrashko, Illinois State Museum.)



Glass lid liners are found throughout the entire town.  Most are fragmented, although archeologists found a complete liner in Block 9, Lot 5.  The lid liners are an indication of the wax seal technology that developed by the mid-nineteenth century.  Glass jars were covered with matching glass or tin lids and a wax or grease element formed an airtight seal.  John Landis Mason, a New York tinsmith, developed a process of pressing zinc lids for threaded canning jars.  By 1868 the first glass inserts were developed by Salmon B. Rowley.  They tended to be opaque milk glass.  The screw lids with lid liners decreased the chances of spoilage and facilitated the canning process (Munsey 1970:146).


Activity Related Artifacts

Activity related artifacts are found in relatively low frequencies during the frontier era, although the most common artifacts found are related to sewing, writing, grooming and leisure activities.  Sewing related artifacts include straight pins, thimbles, small scissors, and spindle wheels.  Straight pins often dominate the sewing assemblage and writing slate and slate pencils represents the writing category.  Grooming related artifacts found at sites include fine-toothed combs (Mazrim 2002:221).


Many of these activity-related artifacts dating from the late-nineteenth-century occupation of New Philadelphia were more common in the archaeological record.  Feature 1, related to the late nineteenth-century occupation of the Butler house on Block 9, Lot 5, contains 6 thimbles, a scissor handle, and milk glass, bone and shell buttons.  There is one shell button platform that appears to have been broken during the manufacture of the button.  A fine-tooth comb, also known as a lice comb, was also found.  All of these artifacts are related to specific domestic and grooming activities (Figure 3.6).



Figure 3.6. Thimbles found in Feature 1, Block 9, Lot 5. (Courtesy, Gary Andrashko, Illinois State Museum.)



Leisure Activities

Leisure activity artifacts generally include smoking pipes, gaming pieces and jaw harps.  Smoking pipes are the most regionally diverse product.  For instance, in the American Bottom the redware Moravian-type forms are common.  These tend to have anthropomorphic figures, much like those found in the South Carolina region (Bivan 1972).  In the Sangamon region the pipes tend to be undecorated redware elbow pipes.

Mazrim (2002:221) believes that a local potter John Elby may manufacture these. The English long stem white kaolin pipe is also present in the region.  White kaolin pipes are also found in the Wabash Valley region (Mazrim 2002:221).


New Philadelphia has a mix of both terracotta (described above as redware) and kaolin pipes.  While the assemblage was fragmented, the four terracotta bowl fragments are from different individual pipes (Figure 3.7).  There are two kaolin pipe fragments.  It appears that finding a mix of kaolin and terracotta pipes is common for this region of Illinois (Smith and Bonath 1982:954). 



Figure 3.7. Redware bowl fragments from the New Philadelphia site. (Courtesy, Gary Andrashko, Illinois State Museum.)



Very few jewelry pieces are part of the New Philadelphia assemblage and they are mostly beads, and only two are black, while another is milk glass.  A crinoid (fossil) found in a historic context may have been used as a bead.  The surface collection yielded two Job’s Tear beads.


Archeologists found several toy objects throughout the site.  In Feature 1 of Block 9, Lot 5, archaeologists found a miniature pewter toy set that included a pitcher and an urn.  In Block 3, Lot 3, they uncovered a glazed multi-colored large marble and one whole and one fragment of an unglazed kaolin marble. 



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Gwaltney, Thom

2004 New Philadelphia Project Pedestrian Survey: Final Report and Catalog. Phase I Archeology at the Historic Town of New Philadelphia, Illinois. ArGIS Consultants, LLC, Bethesda, MD. 

(http://www.heritage.umd.edu/CHRSWeb/New%20Philadelphia/NP_Final_Report_View.pdf )


Hargrave, Michael

2004 Geophysical Investigations at the New Philadelphia Site, Pike County, Illinois. U.S Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Construction Engineering Research Laboratory, Champaign, IL



Mazrim, Robert
2002 Now Quite Out of Society:" Archaeology and Frontier Illinois. Essays and Excavation Reports. Illinois Transportation Archaelogical Research Program, Transportation Archaeological Bulletins No.1. Illinois Department of Transportation, Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Mullins, Paul R.

1999    Race and Affluence: An Archaeology of African America and Consumer Culture. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York, NY.


Munsey, Cecil

1970 Illustrated Guide to Collecting Bottles.  Hawthorn Books, New York.


Ramsey, John

1939 American Potters and Pottery.  Hale, Cushman, and Flint, Clinton, Massachusetts.


Spillman, Jane Shadel

1983 The Knopf Collector’s Guide to American Antiques: Glass Bottles, Lamps &Other Objects. Alfred A. Knopf, NY.

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