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A Geo-Historical Study of Site Formation at a Nineteenth-Century Farmstead in Lake County, Illinois

Abstract

Agricultural journals were in wide circulation in the nineteenth century, and they were means of transmitting information about agrarian technologies and techniques to American Frontier-Phase farmers. This article explores the environmental and cultural context for the addition of a drainage feature to a nineteenth-century farmstead in Illinois (called the Bond Farm site), which preceded the site’s eventual abandonment when rainfall reached anomalously high levels. Geoarchaeological and paleoclimatologic datasets are presented as evidence of high rainfall, and the period of site settlement is constrained by both artifact and documentary sources. High maintenance costs associated with occupying the structure apparently exceeded the value of remaining, so the site was abandoned. As archaeologists grapple with how to determine causation in site occupation and abandonment, we advocate a multidisciplinary research design in historical archaeology that includes geoarchaeological analyses, which can be useful in building a microscale settlement reconstruction.

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Acknowledgments

The work presented in this report represents the accomplishments of the Public Service Archaeology and Architecture Program for determining the NRHP eligibility and undertaking data recovery of the Bond Farm site (11L820). Participation in this project is credited to Mr. John Pagliuso from OliverMcMillan who sponsored the investigations. Dr. Steven R. Leigh, former Department of Anthropology Head and the University of Illinois Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Administration helped facilitate the research contract. The excavation equipment and an operator was provided by Jacobsen Excavating. Field supervision was done by David K. Wright (Phases I and II) and Scott Sills (Phase III). Credit also goes to the individuals who worked in the field and laboratory. Foremost in this group are Johnny Davis, Christopher Flynn, Chris Letourneau, Natalie Liverant, Virginia Hess and Sean Stretton. Kevin McGowan served as the Principal Investigator. Charles Orser and two anonymous reviewers greatly improved the strength of this manuscript and we owe them a debt of gratitude.

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Wright, D.K., McGowan, K.P., Flynn, C. et al. A Geo-Historical Study of Site Formation at a Nineteenth-Century Farmstead in Lake County, Illinois. Int J Histor Archaeol 18, 726–751 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10761-014-0277-y

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Keywords

  • Midwest American frontier phase
  • Site formation processes
  • Geoarchaeology