During the Autumn of 2008, six members of the Research History class participated in an archaeological dig with archaeologist Jarrod Burks, PhD. The day consisted of the students uncovering a well, and finding many artifacts at dig sites on the settlement. The students really enjoyed the day and gained a lot of insight into the world of archaeology and preservation:
Marci M.-- Working with the archaeologists was a great experience! It was a lot of fun finding the different artifacts. It was really neat finding the spoons and forks, because they actually used those things in daily life. It was also neat to see the well-being uncovered. It was definitely a lot of hard work, but rewarding to see the artifacts.
Bryan R.-- First off, I would like to say that I found two prehistoric artifacts and the other six did not. That being said, I had a fun time. We had screens and we put dirt on the screens. Once we had the dirt on the screens, we pushed the dirt through the screens and pulled out any artifacts we found. We found a lot of old nails, pottery, glass, and even parts of a doorknob. We did this pretty much all day. While we were doing that, Jeff was digging around the pile of rocks. The pile of rocks ended up being a well, which was really cool. I thought the day was very informative and interesting. I look forward to going back in the spring.
Mike W.—Going out to the Gist Settlement was a singular experience in my high school career. Spending the day with Jeff and Jared was a really great time. Uncovering a well that could have wound up being just a bunch or rocks was fun. I really enjoyed searching all the dirt to find a ton of artifacts from the 1830’s on, and even a few prehistoric objects. I am looking forward to the next time I get to go out there because six people was great and there will be even more people next time.
Brittany M. - -Working with the archaeologists was a lot of fun. It was cool to see how they work and how they could detect artifacts so easily. I enjoyed being apart of the findings when we were searching through the dirt. It was cool to find the things that have been there since the 1830’s. Some of the things we found was a lot of broken glass, different kings of nails, broken pieces of pottery, what we thought was a doorknob, wire, a few buttons and a lot of other things. Jeff, one of the archaeologists, dug around the rocks that were formed in the middle. When he was finished, we lifted the rocks from the top and found a well. The day went too fast. It was very interesting, and I had a blast.
Interview with Bryan R.
One of the members of the 2008-2009 Research History Class discovered that he had relatives that lived on the Gist settlement. This is a brief interview about his feelings.
Q: How did it feel, what was it like to research your family tree back to the Gist Settlement?
A: It felt really great to know that I did my family a good thing by making them known. If I hadn't researched about my family, I would have never known that they were even there. For my family to actually be that much more interesting than it already is is awesome. It was a long and treacherous route to find all the information i did, but I'm happy I followed through. Hopefully someone will live the family name on after me and attempt to find even more knowledge than I already have found.
Q: What was it like to work on excavating a well from a cabin that may have belonged to your ancestors?
A: It felt really awesome to be able to stand by the well and think that it could have belonged to my ancestors. The whole day we were going through the dirt around the well and finding all sorts of nails and artifacts. With each nail came more curiosity on whether that artifact was once in my ancestry. Overall, it was a great experience to be able to excavate this well.
A few weeks after the dig, Jarrod Burks brought the artifacts to Washington Senior High School, and the students all got an opportunity to see what they had found again. This time, the students weren't just finding them; they were cleaning them. Jarrod and the students used toothbrushes and many other cleaning tools to clean the dirt off of all the old artifacts, and uncovered some very interesting pieces as rewards for the work that was put in a dig at the Gist Settlement.
Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial
As part of an additional, related study, the research history class studied the presidency of Abraham Lincoln and the role that slavery played in his presidency. The people who lived on the Gist settlement were largely and positively affected Abraham Lincoln's presidency. The slaves on the gist settlement were emancipated under President Lincoln and gained many of their rights due to his dedication. We were also able to tie it into another branch of work that we are doing: preserving World War Two Veterans' memories in interviews. Below is an entry about the connection served in this way.