- Associated Press - Monday, August 1, 2016

WOODSTOCK, Ill. (AP) - Midwest Archaeological Research Services is giving Illinois students the opportunity to uncover a part of McHenry County’s past via its 2016 Archaeology Field School.

This year’s field school is taking place at the John A. Kennedy House and is led by Jay Martinez, the president of Midwest Archaeological Research Services. Martinez said the artifacts found at the Kennedy House, located less than a mile from the Brookdale Conservation Area in Woodstock, can give more information about how people lived in the mid-1800s.

“By using the artifacts we uncover, we can give insights to the Kennedys’ lifestyle back during frontier McHenry County,” Martinez said.

Six students are enrolled in the 2016 field school: two from McHenry County College, two from Harper College and two from Elgin Community College.

Students participating in this year’s course are working with Midwest Archaeological Research Services, receiving hands-on training on how to use proper excavation, mapping and survey techniques. Martinez said he hopes his students learn more about archaeology and discover more about McHenry County’s past by the end of this course.

Those enrolled in the summer course were assigned to excavate the backyard of the John A. Kennedy House. Students have been finding old bricks, nails and even some glass, trying to learn more about McHenry County’s earliest settlers and the history of the county.

Joliet resident Greg Walker, one of the two students who signed up from MCC, said this is the first historical archaeology project he’s been a part of.

“I really do enjoy the opportunity to be out here for McHenry County, and I’m hoping in the future I can get into this as a career,” Walker said.

Nicole Holum, a student at Harper College, said the course has taught her a lot so far about archaeology.

“It’s nice coming out here learning about the basics of archaeology and getting the experience to be hands-on with the process,” Holum said.

The students were instructed to make holes about 1 meter long, 1 meter wide and 4 inches deep in an attempt to find artifacts. Little pink flags were placed around the backyard in an effort to map where the most artifacts might be hidden. Students were hoping to find artifacts that possibly could tell them where old wells or privies were located in the backyard.

In previous summers, the field school took place at the Macktown Settlement in Rockton, but Martinez said he was happy to be at Brookdale this year excavating at a new location.

“This is the first year we’re at the McHenry Conservation District Brookdale area,” Martinez said. “Brookdale is an old Irish settlement that was around for the 1840s through the mid-1850s.”

Martinez said some of the earliest residents of McHenry County lived in Brookdale before the small town was bypassed by the railroad and ultimately was abandoned in 1856.

“Before that, there was a thriving little village that had an inn, a couple salons, a bunch of residences and a schoolhouse,” Martinez said.

The 2016 summer course began July 5. While the Harper and MCC class ended July 15, the ECC students’ class will run through July 22.

St. Charles resident Laura Laudadio, who is an anthropology major at Elgin Community College, said she joined the course because she wanted to help uncover a part of Brookdale and its history.

“I love to find things,” Laudadio said. “And I also love the cultural context of when you find something, like when you find a button and you think that it was on someone’s clothing at some point.”

“But we look at (that same button) a 100 years later and think that it’s the most beautiful thing we’ve ever seen,” Laudadio added.

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Source: The (Crystal Lake) Northwest Herald,

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Information from: The Northwest Herald, https://www.nwherald.com


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