Archeologists and volunteers dig up history at Herring Run Park

Posted at 12:48 PM, May 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-03 07:23:27-04

Archeologists Jason Shellenhamer and Lisa Kraus took their expertise home, applying it to their neighborhood park to see what stories were hiding under the surface.

"As my co-director likes to call it, we basically do a large battleship game, where we are excavating holes on a grid and when we find something we basically work around that in order to essentially sink our battleship or identify our site, " Shellenhamer said.

The first site they discovered was the home of a wealthy flour merchant, named William Smith.

RELATED: Neighbors turned archeologists unearth history in Herring Run Park

He had a mill down by the river, and a home called Eutaw Manor, that burned down at a Christening party in October of 1865.

"All of their artifacts, all of their materials, their personal items, their dishes, their glassware, their furniture gets trapped in the house and that's been left for us to find," Shellenhamer said.

Over three years they've discovered more than 12,000 artifacts, giving them a window into the past. 

"This site was also the home for up to about 3 or 4 dozen enslaved African American men women and children... these are two pulleys for windows...a doll's foot, a ring, straight pins, hair pieces, some marbles, actually toy marbles," Shellenhamer said.

Helping them tell the stories that were never written down. Shellenhamer said one of the areas they're excavating belonged to slaves, though the state abolished slavery in November of 1864.
The earliest English settler on the site was John Broad, an emigrant from Europe in 1670. He bought land in 1695 in what is now Herring Run Park.
"We found two gun flints, this was for a rifle, we have another one that was used for a pistol, so we know that actually the Broads were well armed people which would make sense because this would be the frontier," Shellenhamer said he had 173 acres across both banks of Herring Run.
This all providing a window back in tie and giving the community a road map to where they stand today.
The project is funded by donations and grants from other organizations. Their work won them the Baltimore Heritage Preservation Award.