Members of the Archaeology of Hamilton’s Founding course broke ground at a wooded site on campus just off College Hill Road without expecting to make any major discovery. The site was selected because of its possible association with key figures in Hamilton’s past and the existence of a stone structure with both unknown function and historical significance along with a stone marker. “This tree was planted by Samuel Kirkland to mark the property line between the Whites and the Indians, surveyed in 1768” reads the stone’s inscription.
The students, led by Assistant Professor of Anthropology Nathan Goodale, uncovered a second engraved stone less than two weeks after beginning the excavation on Sept 1. “Built to commemorate the dawn of the 20th century and the fiftieth anniversary" is its inscription. No other markings have been discovered on the stone. The students have also unearthed some old 19th century artifacts.
The second stone, discovered on Sept. 13, was found among a grouping of stones that forms the stone structure at the site. It has the same font, and Goodale believes, is the same kind of rock as the first.
Who created and sited the markers is a mystery. Suspicions are that the responsible individual is Edward North, Class of 1841, known as “Old Greek” as he returned as a professor and taught Greek and Latin at Hamilton for more than half a century. He lived in the house closest to the marker. The property line to which the first stone refers may be the dividing line established under the Treaty of Fort Stanwix.
Goodale and his students will provide more insight as to the significance of the site in the College’s history in two Bicentennial College presentations on Friday, Sept. 23, at 3 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 24, at 2:30 p.m. Those interested in taking a tour of the site should meet in the Taylor Science Center Atrium.
Students will continue to work at the site for the next six weeks and also will research topics related to the site including the Treaty of Fort Stanwix, land ownership, local architecture and local community history as well as Professor Edward North and Samuel Kirkland, founder of the Hamilton-Oneida Academy from which Hamilton College was established in 1812. They will use College archives and materials from the Clinton Historical Society, the Oneida County Historical Society and the Oneida Cultural Center.