Neighbors turned archeologists unearth history in Herring Run Park

Posted at 9:28 AM, May 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-02 09:19:53-04

In the middle of Herring Run Park in North East Baltimore neighbors transform into archeologists, digging up 200 year old treasures.

The project started back in 2014, directed by Lisa Kraus and Jason Shellenhamer, both archeologists and neighbors of the park.

"I am a neighborhood resident who normally comes to this park to clean the trash that we make in the 21st Century," Neighbor Irene Smith said.

RELATED: Archeologists and volunteers dig up history at Herring Run Park

When she met Shellenhamer and Kraus in 2014, she became fascinated with the site and has been coming back ever since.

Sifting through the rocks, Smith pulled out a small orange blob, "this what would look to you as though it's like a caterpillar or just a gross root or something nasty is actually a nail that has been rusted and covered in debris."

Back in the 1840's the area they're excavating was the Eutaw Manor, owned by William Smith, a rich flour merchant and Maryland Delegate.
"What's exciting is that my family that's lived in Baltimore in this region since the 1600s, my family is related to the Peeles who painted the portrait that gave them the clues that got them here," Smith said.
Each clue Smith reveals, a bread crumb on the path through her family's history.
"I'm here today finding what my ancestors-- might've eaten this chicken bone and thrown it on the ground and here I am digging it up and saying why would you throw trash on the ground, when I spend all day picking up trash," Smith said excitedly.
Trash from one lifetime, now a treasure in this one.
"It's extremely powerful and emotional for me to think about the journey of the people and the lives they've lived in the same community that I struggle to live in also and I struggle to find resources and I struggle to have china that my, their kids probably broke. we have so much in common even though we span this potentially 400 year distance. It's beautiful," Smith said.
A beautiful effort between archeologists volunteering their time and skills, with neighbors willing to keep unearthing history.