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Week 1 May 31 - June 1, 2006

This story ran on nwitimes.com on Tuesday, June 13, 2006 12:21 AM CDT

Uncovering history along Kankakee

BY HEATHER AUGUSTYN
Times Correspondent

KOUTS | Kassie Haberkamp, a sophomore at Valparaiso High School, stood alongside her grandfather, Bill Beck, in a rectangular pit in the ground, dusting the jaw bone and teeth of an uncovered animal. It was the fourth such bone they uncovered in the hole, part of the Kankakee Valley Historical Society archaeological dig at the Collier Lodge site in rural Kouts on Monday.

"A lot of this stuff I've seen before but I get excited when I find something new," said Haberkamp who admitted she participates in the digs to spend time with her grandfather, who grew up just two miles down the road.

But the rest of the 40 or so volunteers, students, and teachers at the dig came from the historical society as well as the University of Notre Dame. Anthropology professor Mark Schurr led the group.

"This is our fourth year out here and we're exploring questions that weren't answered in previous years," said Schurr.

Those questions included looking at evidence of a cabin buried beneath the ground, perhaps one owned by the first Kankakee River ferry owner George Eaton in the 1830s; examining cross sections of a prehistoric animal and plant pit; and identifying animal bones from possible fur trading times.

"I think it's important that we get information on how this site was used for a long period of time," said Schurr who first used magnetic-sensing equipment and ground-penetrating radar before commencing the dig.

Historical society President John Hodson said he believes the dig is important to the whole community.

"What we found so far shows us the amount of activity that was going on at this little spot for thousands of years and I think it will make the residents here more aware of their own history," said Hodson.

Because the site is on the banks of the Kankakee River at a point that was more easily traversed than others, the land was used for many millennia as a site for camps and settlements. One artifact hunter last week unearthed a point, or the sharp end of a spear or tool, that was evidence of the how long ago the site was inhabited.

Judy Judge , treasurer of the KVHS ,and her team found the point that Schurr determined to be 10,000 years old.

"It was laying in the ground as we were shoveling, and at first we thought it was just a chunk of chert, or the material used to make points, but then we found it to be an intact point," said an excited Judge of her team's find.


For more information on participating in the Kankakee Valley Historical Society digs, contact John Hodson at (219) 766-2302 or visit www.kankakeevalleyhistoricalsociety.org.

 

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Dr. Schurr explains transit 

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Students use transit

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Dr. Schurr explains use of a ground penetrating radar system  Go to for more information: http://www.malags.se/docs/appnotes/2891_AN_Real_3D_surveying_of_archaeological_sites.pdf

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Students use ground penetrating radar system

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Dr. Schurr explains shovel probe technique 

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KVHS members screen shovel probe material

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Dr. Schurr explains documenting artifacts

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Native-American pottery found during shovel probes

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More pottery!

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Native-American arrow point found during shovel probes

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Transfer ware (1795-1820) found during shovel probes

Week 2 June 5 - 8, 2006

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 Provisionally named “Hodson Corner Notched” point

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 Woodland (800-200 BC) points

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French musket(?) flint

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Glass bead (Removal period 1838)

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Senator Sue Landske at dig

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KVHS volunteers at dig

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Dr. Schurr instructing dig workers

Week 3 June 12 - 15, 2006

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Group picture June 14

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Early Archaic (8,000 - 6,000 BC)

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Early Woodland (800 - 200 BC) pottery

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Adena point

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Transfer ware (English 1795 - 1820)

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Feature in north unit

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Animal bone concentration

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Animal bone concentration