Archive for October 2008
Re: Information on historic tanneries
George Myers to HISTARCH
Once asked to research some tannery remains in Huntington, NY and having instead gone to work in NYC I have one archaeological site to report from New Jersey, though the remains of US patriots of the American Revolution, of “Baylor’s Dragoons” were found in it.
How I came by this pamphlet “The Massacre of Baylor’s Dragoons September 28, 1778 Excavation of the Burial Site” the Archaeological Report c) 1968 by Wayne M. Daniels, the then Museum Director, Bergen County Historical Society, and authored by Freeholder D. Bennet Mazur, and published by Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders, is an archaeology story perhaps fitting for a Halloween story.
First the historical background of the report:
On the evening of September 28, 1778, approximately 120 Dragoons of the Continental Army, under the command of Col. George Baylor, were bivouacked in six barns and out-buildings along what was then called Overkill Road now known as River Vale Road. These men were attacked by a vastly superior force of British troops during the night in which some 54 of the Americans were killed or taken prisoner. The incident became known as “Baylor’s Massacre.” An unknown number of these men, reported to be between 40 and 60 were alleged to have been buried in tanning vats in the the neighborhood, the location of which was lost in history by the removal of the millstone which once marked the site.
According to a book on the subject of Tanning operations (footnote 2: Tanning Operations in the United States Before 1840; Library of Congress, not cited in the Bibliography) of the period, such vats would have had to be constructed on the bank of a river or a stream to assure a good water supply, since water for the tanning solution had to be lifted from the river by hand. The tanning operation itself was usually comprised of three hogsheads sunk into the ground, each containing a varying concentration of solution. A fourth vat above the surface was for a liming solution to prepare the skins for tanning by removing hair and fatty matter. A millstone was employed to grind bark for tannic acid and oyster or clam shells for the lime.
The historical research following and the archaeology is excellent, as are the colored drawings, maps, photographs, artifacts, human osteological research and exploration and one conclusion:
The attack upon Colonel Baylor’s Dragoon’s was not a massacre in the conventional sense, and perhaps it has been misnamed. Certainly documentary evidence referring to as many as twenty bayonet wounds in survivors and the evidence of the cause of death of dragoon #4 (see: Appendix) indicate that a more carefully chosen term might be ‘atrocity’.
I was assisting a small “gifted and talented” program in the Huntington Town Cemetery, NY for the Christopher Vagts, then Suffolk County Historian and School Board member, Rufus Langhans, the Huntington Town Historian, Edward Johanneman, Laurie Schroeder and Gaynell Stone, of the Suffolk County Archaeological Association, of which I was a volunteer and participant, when we were also assisted by Dr. Gary Corrado, a podiatrist (medicine below the knee) who in the recent re-enactments, played Benjamin Thompson, a young British officer in charge of British Revolutionary War Fort Golgotha, the remains of which we relocated some parts of, it being plowed over after the Revolution. It was probably where Nathan Hale was brought before his imprisonment and hanging in Manhattan at still unverified location(s). Later Benjamin Thompson would be known (perhaps also “gay”) as Count Rumford the important heat science researcher.
One of the shallow excavations, 5th and 6th graders in a cemetery, who were also shown how to make gravestone rubbings, part of the “local history” state curriculum requirements set up then and since in New York, was the recovery of a large pin or brooch with the cursive “Q” and “R” overlaid from presumably the “Queens Rangers” known to have occupied Long Island, and represented by Dr. Corrado, whom I lent the pin for the night to make a copy for his fellow re-enactors, who soon would re-stage the bloodless Sunday morning victory over the British Army at the fort in the Manor of St. George on the Great South Bay, near the New York signer of the Declaration of Independence, William Floyd’s Manor, which was also occupied by British forces is said, later visited by American federalists.
The NY SHPO was submitted a report also, by Edward Johanneman, MA, perhaps the remains of the entrance to Fort Golgotha found. A former effort by so-called “archaeologists” from NYC had upset a few people.
I read that the scene of a board of scientists discussing intelligent life in the universe that Arthur C. Clarke was left on the cutting room floor and Stanley Kubrick decided in the interest of the film left out. It was said to have been the opening, so it was reported. I saw it on a perforated screen and the sound speakers were on a scaffold behind the screen. I wonder if it was dedicated to Richard Strauss who wrote the music used in the score and wrote “Metamorphosen” about the rubble that Germany became at the end of WW II.
Today it was reported after sixty years, trade has begun again in Kashmir between Pakistan and India. Maybe India probe on the way to the Moon will find a “Sentinel”.
I’m reminded it was primary election day September 11, 2001 perhaps voting saved some from infamy. Surprised by the resulting ballot, some “emergency” powers were called and items left off. The “destruction” of the Liberal Party, resulted, it had not the required 50,000 votes to continue. The candidates had a radio debate candidate Bloomberg was invited, he did not show up, the popular incumbent Public Advocate, Mr. Green and some third party candidates discussed issues on the mailed voting guide that never made it to the machines. WABC TV asked the candidates, among other questions, what they would do with the “windfall” the City was to soon get from the sale of the World Trade Center, just announced. Each of the given answers were evaluated as “possible” or rhetoric and marked with an X or a check by the reporters. Visiting from work in Bridgewater and Picatinney Arsenal, New Jersey and West Point Academy to vote and I thought these examples of democracy in action in the media wonderful. In contrast, the former mayor refused to open the city ledgers or “books” to audit for the New York State Comptroller, Mr. McCall, because the mayor said the comptroller was running for Governor! Pretty nervy, what part of the world allows that to happen? We’ll have to see now what might happen. It might certainly damage some prospective candidates, which ironically could not be shown in New Hampshire to be the case over Senator McCain’s birth residency requirements for presidential candidacy.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost