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Help Dig at Garfield Farm Museum's Archaeology Program

     Registrations are now being taken for individuals who wish to help with the historic archaeology excavation beginning June 9 at Garfield Farm Museum. This newly established Five Year Archaeology Investigation at Garfield Farm Museum will allow novices and the experienced to help excavate, screen, wash and catalogue artifacts in the vicinity of the original 1836 Culverson family log house, the first settling family of Garfield Farm.       

     To help accurately interpret, restore and re-create the 1840s conditions of the Timothy and Harriet Garfield‚s farmstead and tavern, the archaeology program has been expanded to investigate more area at this 1840s living history farm. A two week excavation in June, a resistivity survey, a conference of Illinois historic archeologists, and a two week excavation in late September are planned for the first year of this 5 year program. Laboratory space for cleaning, inventorying and storing shards and artifacts is also being established at the farm. The program is in part being funded by a $10,000 challenge grant by a museum donor.

     The research will be headed by James R. Yingst, Director and Chief Archaeologist of Heartland Archaeology Research Program of Carlinville, Illinois and is coordinated by Helen Bauer, an experienced amateur archaeologist and board member of Garfield Farm Museum's Campton Historic Agricultural Lands. Yingst has experience in Illinois and Wisconsin 19th century sites and ceramics of the period. Bauer has traveled and participated in excavations in Asia, Europe, Central America as well as President James Madison's home, Montpelier and Illinois' Cahokia Mounds and Kampsville sites.

     Volunteers must commit to a set schedule to participate. June's work will be from June 9 - 13 and 16 - 20. September's two-week session will begin September 22. They will be working alongside college and graduate school archaeology students. Volunteers 14 - 17 years of age may participate with parent permission. Younger students accompanied by a parent or guardian may also participate.

     Ultimately, a replica of the original log house that the Garfield family enlarged and made into an inn or tavern, will be built. The research will help in this effort and will provide better clues as to how the Culverson and Garfield families lived.  A resistivity test is planned for the area where the brick kiln or clamp is believed to have been. In 1845, Timothy Garfield fired or "burnt" 80,000 bricks to build the 1846 brick home and tavern that replaced the log tavern . The area for this investigation was recently cleared of invasive brush by Eagle Scout candidate Dave Bono of Bartlett, IL to allow for establishing a grid system for the survey. 

    The Culverson log house/Garfield log tavern stood in the fork of the Chicago St.Charles Road that branched northwest to Sycamore and southwest to Oregon, IL. Culverson originally claimed 440 acres of land that he improved with the house, a dug well, and had 30 acres in cultivation when he sold the claim to Timothy Garfield in 1841 for $650. Farmers hauling wheat to Chicago's port caught the Garfield's attention and they expanded the log house as an inn or tavern. The structure occupied a 20 by 50 foot area with a cellar that was discovered in the 2006 archaeology investigation. The house consisted of two sections and a kitchen to the west. Three first floor rooms included the barroom and two chambers were on the second floor. The log house had slab siding with a roof of shakes bound down by poles according to the Timothy Garfield biography.  The historic integrity of the site and its documentation call for a thorough archaeological study to confirm and add to understanding the first settlement and development of farms in northern Illinois.

    To register, see the dig, or to financially contribute to the effort, contact the museum at 630 584-8485, e-mail or write to Box 403 LaFox, IL 60147.

For more information about Garfield Farm send an e-mail message to: or call 630/584-8485.