April 18, 2011
SPRINGFIELD, Mo., April 14, 2011 — Some iron stone pottery pieces, a 19th century nail head, a World War II era token and a 1954-penny. That is the treasure unearthed by Dr. Monty Dobson and his American History students on April 14, 2011 on the campus of Drury University.
Drury students sift through the dirt at Drury's Civil War entrenchment
Dr. Dobson, a trained archaeologist and a visiting assistant professor of history at Drury, wanted to give his students an actual archaeological experience. From his office on the third floor of Burnham Hall, he had noticed a hump in the ground of the Burnham Circle lawn. After some investigation, he realized that Drury’s written and oral history made note of a Civil War entrenchment through the middle of campus.
The earliest written reference to the entrenchment comes from Drury’s first president in a fundraising letter. On the twentieth anniversary of Drury’s founding in 1893, Professor Paul Roulet delivered this passage in his address to the school, “Rifle pits, relics of the late war zigzagged from Washington to Benton avenues. Most of these were carefully leveled during the first term by teachers and students. The children of the gray and the children of the blue stood side by side and shoulder to shoulder putting down the earthworks their fathers had raised. What is left, however, should be carefully preserved for their historic value.”
Drury President Todd Parnell joins students at the Civil War excavation
While no rifles or cannonballs were unearthed on the first day, Dr. Dobson was encouraged that his students found a few artifacts and had the experience of digging with trowels and sifting dirt. The dirt sifter is where the nail head was unearthed, “This kind of experiential learning is what a Drury education is all about. I can lecture to my students all day, but by allowing them to discover history I hope that I’ll turn them into life-long history buffs,” Dobson said.
(L to R): Iron stone pottery, a 19th century nail head, a WW II era token, a 1954 penny
The day before the excavation, Dobson had colleagues from Missouri State University scan the site with ground penetrating radar. Dobson says that revealed a four-and-a-half foot deep trench. That data along with a core sample that exposed different strata of earth gave Dobson more evidence that the entrenchment was more than just folklore and he’ll continue investigating into the summer of 2011, “A quarter inch trowel scrape at a time,” Dobson said.
Media contact: Dr. Lemont Dobson, Visiting Assistant Professor of History, Office: (417) 873-7368, Mobile: (313) 461-4808, E-mail: email@example.com