The 2007 National Road Historical Archaeology Field School: A Web Field Log _____________________________________________________________________________________  


The 2007 National Road Historical Archaeology Field School was conducted during summer semester 1 (May 15 to June 15) in the rear house lot of the Huddleston Farmhouse (pictured above) in Cambridge City, Indiana.  The Huddleston Farmhouse (maintained as a museum by the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana) was located immediately adjacent to the National Road.  Constructed in the 1840s by John Huddleston, the Huddleston family provided services to settlers migrating west along the National Road.  A prosperous farm was operated at the site by the Huddleston family.  A wagon yard, general store, inn, and campground were also operated at the house by the Huddleston family during the height of wagon migration west during the 1840s and 1850s.    

Link to Huddleston Farmhouse web page (Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana)

There were three main goals of the excavations conducted at the farmhouse, consisting of education, research, and preservation management.  The field school provided excavation experience for students, it generated useful archaeological research information, and the results will help personnel at the Huddleston Farmhouse manage the archaeological resources at the site and interpret the landscape history of the farmstead.

Excavations identified the locations of former outbuildings in the rear house lot.  The following web page presents a brief summary of field results at the site in a field log format.


1874 Wayne County Atlas of Mt. Auburn showing the J. Huddleston farmstead and outbuildings (lower right area of map).


1974 HABS site plan of Huddleston farmhouse complex.


Aerial photo of Huddleston farmstead complex.


Week 1 (May 15-18)

During the first week a site grid was established and site mapping was conducted.  Previously in May 2002, a systematic shovel test pit survey was conducted at the site under the direction of Mitch Zoll, a former staff person with the Archaeological Resources Management Service, a contract archaeology unit in the BSU Department of Anthropology.  During week 1 of the 2007 field school spatial analysis of the 2002 site survey data was conducted.  The analysis results (below) revealed the distinctive artifact spatial signature of a building, strongly suggesting that a structure was located in the northwest quarter of the rear house lot.



Based on the results of spatial analysis, two excavation units were subsequently established in the northwest quarter of the rear house lot in the area containing a very dense concentration of architectural material (center area of above wire frame map).  In Unit 1 a substantial posthole was encountered (see below).  The locust post is probably associated with a fence line that is still extant along the west boundary of the house lot. 


The excavations begin in the northwest quarter of the rear house lot...


...and the top of a post is encountered in Unit 1.


Feature 1 containing a post and large wedge stones.


On Friday of week 1 a systematic soil probe survey was also conducted in the northwest quarter of the rear house lot in the area containing the dense artifact concentration, denoted from the spatial analysis map.  The artifact concentration appeared to be the distinctive spatial footprint of a structure.  The soil probe survey subsequently revealed a large continuous rectangular subsurface feature measuring ca. 16 x 24 feet in size.    

Week 2 (May 21-25):

During week 2 excavations were started in units 3, 4, 5 and 6 in the northwest area of the rear house lot containing the large subsurface feature located during a systematic soil probe survey conducted on Friday of week 1.  The feature (designated Feature 2) turned out to be the continuous limestone foundation of a structure (designated Structure 1) measuring ca. 16 x 24 feet.  The northwest corner of the structure was encountered in Unit 3, the first unit excavated over the feature.  The north foundation and associated corners of the structure were subsequently exposed during weeks 2 and 3 of the field school. 

The north wall of Structure 1 is aligned with the north wall of an extant smokehouse and carriage barn located ca. 70 feet east of Structure 1.  The alignment of the north wall of Structure 1 with the two original extant outbuildings suggest Structure 1 is also an original outbuilding in the rear house lot, presumably constructed during the 1840s.  The alignment also indicates that John Huddleston used a formal landscape plan when he constructed the farm lot in the 1840s.  Historical records note that a two-story structure had been located in the year yard of the house lot.  Consequently, Structure 1 may have been two stories in height.  Structure 1 contained a continuous limestone foundation and had brick walls, denoted by brick fragments in the rubble above the limestone foundation in the upper levels of the units.  The construction methods and materials are also identical to the main house, the spring house, and the smokehouse in the rear house lot, suggesting Structure 1 is contemporaneous with these buildings.  Recovered artifacts in the upper levels of the Feature 2 units suggest Structure 1 was razed sometime between the 1870s and first quarter of the 20th century.  Analysis of recovered window glass will help narrow the dates when the structure was constructed and  destroyed.  Although the function of the structure is currently unknown, it may have served as a guest house for travelers on the National Road, given its substantial construction methods and the possibility that it was two stories in height.  A noticeable amount of recovered kitchen related artifacts (table ceramics, storage ceramics, and animal bone fragments) suggest a domestic-related function for Structure 2, which would be consistent with a guest house or inn.  The structure may have also been a summer kitchen.   


Photo of in-progress excavation of the northwest corner of a continuous 16 x 24 ft. limestone foundation encountered in Unit 3, subsequently designated Feature 2, Structure 1.

Week 3 (May 28-June 1):

During week 3 the north and east segments of the Structure 1 foundation were defined.  In the northeast corner the upper foundation stones had been removed when Structure 1 was razed during the first quarter of the 20th century. 


Northwest corner of Structure 1, Feature 2.


Center segment of Feature 2, north foundation of Structure 1.


Northeast corner of Feature 2, Structure 1 during excavation.


Intact base of northeast corner of Structure 1, Feature 2.


Week 4 (June 4-June 8):

During week 4 the northeast and southeast corners of Structure 1 were defined.  A few intact bricks were encountered resting on top of the limestone foundation along the east and south foundation of the structure.  These remnants of a lower course of bricks indicate Structure 1 was constructed of brick, paralleling the construction methods of the other original buildings dating to the 1840s when the Huddleston family first resided at the farmstead. 


Southeast corner of Structure 1 with remnants of brick course.


Week 5 (June 11-June 15):

During week 5 the southwest corner of Structure 1 was excavated.  During the last week of the field school site mapping was also completed and the field school students began processing and cataloging the artifacts recovered from excavations.  During summer semester 2 the field school students will be paid through a BSU immersion grant to help with the artifact analysis and historical research. 


Southwest corner of Structure 1.


Pieces of the past: An assortment of ceramic and glass artifacts.


Wagon travelers at an inn on the National Road, 1820s.


Study Contributes to Historic Site
Ball State immersion grant helps students earn credits with emphasis on education, preservation management
FOR THE PALLADIUM ITEM (Richmond, IN), June 16, 2007
CAMBRIDGE CITY, Ind. -- Ball State University professor Mark Groover and four of his students recently finished a five-week summer program studying the history of the Huddleston Farmhouse Inn Museum.
The farmhouse on National Road was once a place for settlers to stop and rest before making the long journey West.
"The Huddleston farmhouse is a key part of National Road," said Groover, an archaeology professor. "We had other historical sites to research but this one has some importance."
Built in the 1840s by John Huddleston, the farmhouse provided services such as maintaining a family farm, wagon yard, general store, inn and campground. The Huddleston family provided services at the height of wagon passages west during the 1840s and 1850s.
Students in the five-week program will be given credit based on three main goals: education, research and preservation management.
Not only will the students receive credit for their work, they will be paid through a Ball State immmersion Grant to help with artifact analysis and historical research.
"The whole experience was exciting," said Ball State junior Sarah Hunnicutt of Hagerstown.
Artifacts found by the team will be used as an interpretive piece to help visitors understand the significance of the Huddleston farmhouse.
"We are working with the Indiana National Road Association to make Huddleston farmhouse the national interpretive center of the historical National Road," said Wayne Goodman, director of Eastern Regional Offices for Historic Landmarks of Indiana, which operates the Huddleston farmhouse.
During their first week of excavating, the team found a posthole, which was thought to have been associated with a fence line that is still present along the west of the house lot.
The most notable find during the excavation was when the team discovered a limestone foundation indicating a building once stood in its place.
The research team's last day at the Huddleston farmhouse was Tuesday. Since then, they have returned to the Muncie campus to further analyze their artifacts.
"We found a few artifacts like pottery shards and an unbroken antique bottle," Hunnicutt said. "Artifacts that we found were placed in bags and catalogued for further research."

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