ARCHAEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS OF SITE 36LU332 HOUSE #38/40 BACK STREET ECKLEY MINERS’ VILLAGE LUZERNE COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA
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The University of Maryland summer archaeological field methods course was taught at Eckley Miners’ Village, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, from May through July 2015. As a result of the field school, three previously unrecorded sites (36LU331, 36LU332, and 36LU333) were identified. The field school proceeded to conduct additional archaeological investigations at 36LU332. The objective of this work was to assess the integrity of the archaeological deposits at the site as well as to answer a series of research themes related to the life of workers and their families at Eckley. The field school investigations included historical research as well as excavation of shovel test pits and 5 x 5 ft test units. In total, the 64 shovel test pits (STPs) and 11 Test Units (TUs) excavated at 36LU332 yielded 6,487 historical artifacts, 195 faunal remains, and 66 modern items. Site 36LU332 was a company-constructed double tenancy house associated with a mid-nineteenth to early twentieth century occupation. According to historic maps, the structure was designated as Houses #38 and 40 on Back Street. Historical research indicated that the house was likely constructed in 1854 when Sharpe, Leisinger, and Company constructed the colliery at Eckley. The early occupation of the house is unknown, although the US federal census indicates that the property was occupied by William Wash and the Chiban family in 1920, the Ondeck and Charnigo families in 1930, and the Ondeck and Jurbella families in 1940. The house was demolished between 1940 and 1959. Based on the intact cultural deposits uncovered the site, 36LU332 is recommended for inclusion in the existing Eckley Miners’ Village National Historic Register. Analysis of the House #38/40 site artifact assemblage by research themes provided a framework for understanding the occupation of the house. The research themes investigated included (1) land and spatial use and organization, (2) consumer behaviors, (3) ethnicity and class differences, and (4) household economies. Analysis of the surviving architectural elements combined with a comparison to nearby houses indicate that House #38/40 was a one-and-a-half story, clapboard covered, balloon frame structure that measured 28 x 20 ft. Because the structure served as two domiciles, each side of the duplex measured approximately 14 x 20 ft A detached summer kitchen was located 12 to 15 ft behind the house structure and measured 12 x 24 ft and was divided in the middle. An exterior brick chimney was added to the rear of House #40 between 1854 and 1920. Each side of the house would have included a front and rear room on the ground floor, a sleeping loft, and an unfinished cellar located beneath the front room. Artifacts from this site represented consumer items ranging from common and inexpensive (redware and Prosser buttons) to fashionable and expensive (shell buttons and gilded porcelain vessels). Overall, the archaeological investigations of site 36LU332 indicate that the lifestyles of the workers living in the two households varied – possibly with the rise and decline of the coal industry. The houses served as home for several families of Eastern European descent as well as boarders. The historical and archaeological research conducted at this site concluded that variance in wealth within the immigrant population manifested within the material record as families used different strategies to cope with their economic and social circumstances through time.