As I mentioned before, I headed out to Hedrick House near Alderson, WV last week. Shawn wasn't able to make the trip, because he was busy taking his GREs! Because he's applying to graduate school! Yay for Shawn!
But don't worry, I had help. AllStar Ecology sent me a volunteer!
AllStar Ecology, an ecological consulting company based out of Fairmont, WV, helps to protect, maintain, and restore vulnerable environments (and archaeological sites) here in the central Appalachian region. The company also encourages their employees to do volunteer work for the local community. So great!
My volunteer, Dave Bohnert, is an environmental scientist at AllStar Ecology. He has a lot of prior experience coring trees and doing the whole dendro thing, so he was a great help on this trip. He also happens to be my better half and has put up with me going on and on (and on) about my research on a daily basis, so he's pretty familiar with the whole project.
We packed up the car early Wednesday morning with coring gear, camping gear, and our two dogs (yes, more chaos, please) and hit the road!
We got really lucky on this trip and had unseasonably warm weather (highs in the 70s!), but as soon as we got up the mountain it began to rain.
Dave and Chuck (our chauffeur extraordinaire) had to go back down the mountain to get the generator; leaving me, the dogs, and the bears alone for a while. I did what any sane person would do and blasted some music on my phone, hoping it would deter the bears.
I don't think bears like Bette Midler's music. I don't like Bette Midler's music (no offense Bette). I'm not even sure why it's on my phone. But in that moment Bette Midler made me feel a little bit safer.
But I'm no expert at guessing dates based on notching styles. From the books I've read, these styles relate to different periods in different areas. They are more of a cultural indicator; styles picked up from the various places people came from during settlement. But from what I've seen, they can be used to estimate dates in particular regions, if you know a bit of the history of the area. Here in southern West Virginia it seems the notching styles moved through time from steeple to half dovetail to full dovetail. But I've read books on notching styles where the progression of style was quite different. It will be interesting to see if my observations of notching style and periods of construction are consistent throughout southeastern West Virginia or where they might differ. I guess that's the geographer in me...
As you can see in the pictures, one side of the house is clapboard, so we were only able to collect cores from the north, south, and east walls. Additionally, the north wall had been partially covered with siding. There were few exposed beams in the interior of the house, and the floor upstairs was not exactly safe to walk around on. So we were very limited in what we could sample.
I started by giving Dave a quick tutorial on how to collect cores from logs, which is very different from coring living trees. Then we got to work.
Well, first he had to goof off a bit...
After a good chase around the property with a drill (not safe, please don't do this with your dogs), Dave was ready to work.
Jeannie remembers playing in this structure as a child. It was also used as a chicken coop for a while too, but its original use is unknown.
Since we were hurting for more cores, we decided to go ahead and core the small structure. Unfortunately, the logs here were not in as good of shape as the logs from Hedrick House. Many of our cores broke and/or turned to sawdust as we collected them. But we did get approximately seven good ones. It will be interesting to see if they all have different dates or one common date. But because of the varying notching styles used, I don't imagine this will date to one common year.
It will be very interesting to see what year Hedrick House dates to. Sometimes no background information is more exciting, because then we have no expectations of a date.
Whatever the date may be, Jeannie is considering moving the house down the valley and restoring it so that it is habitable again. I think that sounds like a great idea. Hopefully she'll let us stay in it one day.
Well, that's it. Field season 2015 is done. For the next 5 months we'll be peering into the microscopes, trying to sort out dates for all of the structures we sampled this field season. Jeannie, thank you for letting us come out with very little notice! And thank you for the generator use! One of these days, we will bring our own (I hope!). We can't thank everyone we've met and worked with enough. It was a great year and we hope next year is just as productive!
Don't forget, we also have presentations of results coming up in the spring. We haven't set dates yet, but I'll post those here when we do.
And please don't forget about us until spring! I'll be posting updates regularly. And we'll give you a peek in our lab too. Shawn doesn't wear plaid in there. It's crazy!