Monday, June 4, 2012


Have been busy the past few days. Will try to update tomorrow with past posts.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Day 2: Rainy Day Blues

After a good night's rest, we eagerly awoke to get some serious digging done today. The guys decided to be awesome and beat not only the girls to the site, but Dr.'s Scott and Heldman too. After a pretty efficient set up we were ready to work. Unfortunately, the weather didn't agree.

As showers began falling, we decided that it would be in our best interest to hold off on digging until the skies cleared again. With nothing to do, we headed to town to check out the Station 2 Café, an old decommissioned firehouse turned local pâtisserie.

The old firefighting equipment adorning the walls was a nice touch

Cakes, pies, muffins, cookies, and other assorted deliciousness

Hold on, let me just scan this banana with my phone -_-

After only 3 days, I've noticed three things about Ste Genevieve: 1) Gas is extraordinarily cheap ($3.30!), 2) You can't cross the street without running into something historical, and 3) There is no shortage of places to find pies. Any delicious treat you could think up, Station 2 had it. With the weather clearing up, we made our way back to the Janis-Ziegler house.

In an effort to get down to the historic material, Dr. Scott had us read through the field notes for surrounding test units during past excavations to learn how deep the sod layer went. Urging us not to be "gentle" with the rooted mass, we scrapped wet screening and worked on getting through to the next level using the 1/4" screen alone.

Erin and Leland dry screening for cultural material 

By the end of the day, the units were starting to take shape as topsoil disappeared and profile walls became defined.

Test units taking shape as most of the sod layer is removed.

The unit belonging to Kristen and Me. (140R0Q4). Sticking two perfectionists together makes for some awesome walls.

Due to the forecast calling for downpours all day, the units were covered by tarps and bricks. After recording the day's finds, we left the site looking forward to finding more later this week!

Collin and Niki documenting their unit's progress

Since we wouldn't be doing much work the next day, possible ideas ranged from historic house tours to cemetery walks. We'll see how the weather holds up tomorrow.

~ Scott

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Day 1: Orientation and History

Today marked the first day of the field season! After a continental breakfast at the hotel, we set out to finally visit the site and get to work. The historic district of Ste Genevieve is amazing. A trip through town feels like you've actually traveled back in time to 18th century French-Colonial America.

The Bolduc House Garden (built 1785)

Arriving at the Janis-Ziegler site was pretty neat and despite seeing photographs online, it looked much more impressive in person. Without sounding long-winded, I'll provide a brief history of the site we are working at this summer. A more in-depth account can be found by visiting some of the links on the sidebar to the right of this blog.

"The site was originally owned by a French family, headed by Nicolas Janis, who had been a wealthy farmer in Kaskaskia, just across the river in Illinois; Nicolas came to Kaskaskia as a young man from Quebec, Canada.He and his family were among the first residents to move to the “New Town” of Ste. Genevieve, located in the “little hills” slightly above the floodplain where the original Ste. Genevieve was situated (established around 1750).In the 1791 census, he is listed as owning 10 African American slaves, whom he likely brought to the new property as well.Nicolas and his son François built the house around 1790, and François and his family lived in the house with his father until his father’s death in 1804.At least by 1800 (if not before), François ran a tavern business in the north end of the structure; the family lived in the south portion of the structure.In 1806, the Green Tree Tavern also became the first meeting hall for Freemasons in Missouri.Called Louisiana Lodge No. 109, it continued to hold meetings until around 1820; several Masonic symbols were carved into the original porch posts located just outside the tavern.François’s family grew up and lived in the house until he died in 1832.

In 1833, the property was sold by the Janis heirs to Mathias and Barbara Ziegler, who were from Baden, in the Kingdom of Bavaria, in what is now Germany.Mathias Ziegler and several of his brothers came to Ste. Genevieve in the 1820s. Mathias was in partnership with Jean Baptiste Vallé, a member of one of the prominent French families in town; they ran a general store from 1828 to 1833.After buying the Green Tree Tavern, Mathias Ziegler used the structure as a residence and a tobacco shop, presumably turning the tavern portion of the structure into the tobacco shop.He made cigars and snuff in the tobacco shop, and probably supplied many of the stores in town with these products and with “carrots” (bunches) of tobacco.However, Mathias Ziegler died in 1835, leaving the house and the tobacco business to his wife Barbara.She and their children (the oldest of whom was only 13 when his father died) continued to run the tobacco business until sometime in the 1850s.

Francis Ziegler, one of Mathias and Barbara’s children, bought the property from his mother, making the final payment in 1860.He was married in the mid-1850s to Josephine Moreau, a member of a prominent French family who lived nearby on St. Mary’s Road.His mother continued to live in the house until her death in 1862.Francis does not seem to have continued the family tobacco business; the 1860 census lists his occupation as “clerk.”Under his ownership, the building was remodeled in a Victorian style and the commercial aspect removed.Francis and Josephine raised 5 children in the house, and the children inherited the property when their parents died (Josephine in 1883 and Francis in 1900).The four Ziegler daughters never married, and lived in the house until the late 1930s.In 1938, their nieces sold it to the people who had been renting it for some time.This was the first time that the property had left Ziegler hands since it was purchased in 1833."

Janis-Ziegler House/Green Tree Tavern (built 1790)

Upon arriving at the site, our first task was to set up the dig site. The focus of our excavation will center around the remains of a structure previously uncovered during a past field season. Using trowels to excavate 5'x5' test units in .10' levels and screen sifting (1/4''-dry, 1/16" wet), we hope to recover material to help us further understand what role the structure may have served. Suggestions have ranged anywhere from the remains of the earlier slave quarters, an outdoor kitchen for immigrant servants, or as the townspeople would lead us to believe, an area for dances and balls. Hopefully the fruits of our labor can shed some light on the structure and its purpose.

Using shears to level out the ground to string up test units.

The local Missouri wildlife

Erin stringing up the test units

Alex, Deanna, and Dr. Heldman hammering in datum nails

After the dig site and screening area were all set up, Dr. Scott was kind enough to let us take a break and gave us an informative walking tour about the Janis-Ziegler house itself. (Photos and details will be discussed in a future post).

The tour concluded just about lunchtime, and due to the stores being closed during the holiday weekend, Dr. Scott and Dr. Heldman treated us to a meal at Stella & Me, a local family owned deli. With our stomachs full of delicious sandwiches (and a piece of pie or two), we returned to the site to get down to business.

Collin being  a man and fixing car issues

With trowels sharpened, we set about trying to scrape away the tangled mass of roots, sod, and gravel sitting atop the surface of our units (not an easy task). Using screens to sift through the soil, artifacts slowly began showing up. More modern objects including brick, rubber, charcoal were among some of the artifacts recovered. Water screening yielded smaller items such as bone, seeds, and a possible trade bead.

Attempting to get through the sod and topsoil

Overall, it was a great day packed full of history, digging, and sightseeing around Sainte Genevieve. Most of us were able to remove a majority of the sod layer and should be able to reach the finer loamy soil below tomorrow. I think all of the students, including myself, are excited to continue digging to see what treasures lie just beneath our feet.

- Scott

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Blog is Up and Running

Think I've finally got the hang of this site, and the blog is up! Apologies for the cheesy title. I'll come up with something better later.

Our first day att the site begins tomorrow. Expect updates soon.