William M. Beauchamp Chapter
NYSAA

 

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Happy Anniversary to the William M. Beauchamp Chapter


On the first warm spring day after a long Northeastern Winter, a small group of weary people pause from the labor of repairing a palisade line located on a drumlin in what one day would become the Town of Pompey. Some 500 years later, another group of equally weary yet enthusiastic people pause from their efforts to uncover the post molds left by that same palisade line long ago as part of the first dig of the nascent William M. Beauchamp Archaeological Society.

The first dig, held May 9, 1970, at the Burke Site, on property of Dr. John Hammel, was followed shortly thereafter by an organizational meeting at the library of the Fayetteville-Manlius Junior High School, Eagle Hill. At the meeting, a constitution and set of by-laws for the Society were proposed and approved. This meeting was the culmination of an effort to assess regional interest in archaeology which had been spearheaded by several local teachers and interested amateurs under the aegis of the American Heritage and World Cultures Social Studies Centers. A 160-piece mailing entitled "Can We Save the Past?" had been sent out to potentially interested individuals, and 70 favorable responses had been recelved! Encouraged by the high level of positive feedback, the core group--which included educators such as Betsy Buckler, Rhys Roberts, Barbara Windheim, and Jim Miller, as well as amateur archaeologists such as Jack Calvert, Gordon DeAngelo, and Shirley Grieff--set out to get the proposed archaeological society off the ground.

The very first Society Newsletter was put together promptly, and sent out on June l5, 1970, encouraging attendance at the July 15 organizational meeting. In August, the Eaqle-Bulletin, DeWitt New-Times, provided some additional publicity with coverage of the July meeting and a description of the proposed archaeological society. From its inception, the Beauchamp Archaeological Society concentrated on two intertwined goals--to assist in the appreciation, understanding, and preservation of the rich cultural heritage of Central New York, and to promote archaeological education. Throughout its existence, the group has maintained an intrest in a broad spectrum of archaeological activities ranging from prehistoric, historic, industrial, urban, contract, and, for he "web-footed", underwater archaeology. This variety of interests has helped the group attract an equally varied membership over the years. The first official meeting of the Beauchamp Archaeological Society was held on September 23, 1970, at the Betts Memorial Public Library in Syracuse. The featured speaker was Theodore Whitney from the Chenango Chapter of the New York State Archaeological Association. He gave a presentation on the Oneida Buyea site and thus began a long and happy tradition of close affiliation between the Beauchamp and Chenango chapters members. Initial membership of the Beauchamp Society stood at 45: 23 family Memberships, 19 active (individual) members, and 3 junior members.

The first officers elected were: Gordon DeAngelo, President, William Hamm, Vice President, Betsy Buckler, Secretary, and Rhys Roberts, Treasurer. The society continued to meet throughout the Fall and Winter of 1970-71 and the tradition of excellent speakers and programs got off to a great start with: Bud Hiteman, who spoke on 19th century farmsteads, Lee Hansen from the National Park Service, who spoke on his work at Fort Stanwix, and Lilita Bergs, who gave a presentation on the Mayan city of Tikal. Also during the first year, the foundation for what would become a fine society library was established by Society Historian Francis Barone, with an initial acquisition of the December 1969 issue of Pennsylvania Archaeologist, which included articles on the Dutchess Quarry Cave, as well as Onondaga prehistory. In addition, Society Curators Lawrence Russell and Harry McCloskey helped to establish the importance of proper handling and cataloging of artifacts in the possession of group members. Finally, another fine tradition which was initiated was the group's newsletter, with eight informative issues coming out that very first year!

By the second year of existence the Beauchamp Archaeological Society had grown to a total membership of 76--and what an eventful 2 years it had been! The educational mission of the Society had really paid off as early as September 5, 1970, when Joan Jayne, a seventh grader who had participated on the Burke Site, spotted some pottery fragments on a beach Near Selkirk Shores State Park and shared her find with her mother, Vicky. In short order, members of the Beauchamp Society were involved in an excavation on the property of Mr. Robert LaPoint just south of the park. Then, on September 13, 1970, several Jaynes, as well as Barbara (Bobbi) Harris, Gordon DeAngelo, and Richard Ping Hsu of the National Park Service (Fort Stanwix), with two of his crew, Cynthia and Lawrence Blakemore, unexpectedly came across what appeared to be a human burial rapidly being exposed through erosion, caused by the brisk shoreline winds. Due to the impending complete exposure of this startling discovery, the group realized excavation would have to proceed "here and now." As the weather turned from bad to worse, an expanding circle of volunteers gathered at the spot to assist the excavators. Mr. LaPoint rigged up his portable generator to provide lighting as evening turned into night, and the appropriate police authorities were notified. Soon it became apparent that there were two individuals interred, probably dating from the War of 1812 era, based upon the presence of a number of Script I military buttons. Eventually, the site was named the Jayne-LaPoint site, and it provided enriching archaeological experience for the Society for many years. Dr. Marian E. White from SUNY Buffalo, tested the prehistoric component on the site and judged it to be a Late Woodland fishing camp. During the Fall of 1971, Society members continued to work at the site and uncovered an intrusive 17th century burial of a female Native American. The Jayne-LaPoint site continues to be the basis for numerous Society programs. A report on this site was published in the Beauchamp Chapter's Bulletin, Volume 5, Number 1, 1987. The Society was fortunate to begin its existence with these opportunities for members to participate in excavation of the two excellent projects, the Burke and Jayne-LaPoint sites. An enduring testament to the significance of these sites has been the lasting commitment to the group of many of its "old-timers", who continue to be the driving force behind today's Beauchamp Chapter of the New York State Archaeological Association.

The educational mission of the society expanded to include compilation of a cultural sequence chart for Central New York, which, for its first edition, included 47 sites dated from 8000 B.C. through A.D. 1779. This sequence has been revised as appropriate throughout the years and has proven to be a valuable resource tool. Also, almost from the very beginning, the group benefited from a close association with professional archaeologists active in the area, including, but not limited to, James Bradley, Peter and Marjorie Pratt, Michael Dombrowski, Douglas Armstrong, and Ellis McDowell-Loudan. Many of these relationships continue to form an integral part of group activities. Education of group members has been fostered through a variety of channels over the years. In particular, the group has offered excellent "workshop meetings," which have included ceramic identification, artifact preservation, lithics, cultural resource management, trade beads, and the basics of excavation and site reporting. The group has benefited from the archaeological enrichment projects which its members have sought out over the years. For example, Barbara Harris attended the field school at Cahokia in 1973, and shared her experiences there with the Chapter. Barbara has continued to enthrall the Chapter members with" spur of the moment" programs on her many other fascinating archaeological sojourns. Other group members have furthered the educational mission via programs to local groups and schools--especially Lawrence Russell, Gregory Sohrweide, James Bradley, Robert DeOrio, Gordon DeAngelo, and Albert (Red) LaFrance.

As the Beauchamp Archaeological Society became firmly established, the logical next step was to seek incorporation as a full Chapter of the New York State Archaeological Association. This was accomplished on October 20, 1973, and the Society officially became the William M. Beauchamp Chapter of NYSAA Throughout the 1970's the Chapter continued to be very active in both the educational and "excavational" realms. Activity proceeded sporadically at the Burke site the group also worked on the Indian Hill site with members Gregory Sohrweide and Albert LaFrance, surface collecting and excavating for settlement pattern evidence. As early as 1974, the Chapter began working on the Pompey Center site, preparing maps and surveying, and then, from 1977 to 1980, excavating the site with the Pompey Historical Society.

The Chapter, from its beginning, established a close working relationship with the Onondaga County Parks and Recreation Department, especially through Dennis Connors (now with the Onondaga Historical Association). In 1974, the Chapter assisted with an excavation of the suspected site of Ste. Marie de Gannentaha (the" French Fort"), near LeMoyne Manner in Liverpool, at the request of the Onondaga County Parks Department. During the 1970's, Chapter members were also busy on a number of other sites, such as Muskrat Creek, Cabin, Crooked Brook, and Oak Orchard. Member Tyree Tanner became especially enamored of the Lot 18 site, and over the years has compiled an extensive surface collection which he has analyzed, catalogued and published in the Chapter Bulletin, Volume 3, Number 1, in 1978, and in Volume 6, Number 1, in 1994.

The first edition of the Chapter's Bulletin was published in the Spring of 1976. It was made possible, largely, by the efforts of Albert and Ferdinand La France, and included articles on the Carley II site, Lot 18 glass beads, and an updated cultural sequence for Central New York. This first volume has been followed by five others, including Volume 6, Number 1, published in honor of the Chapter's 25th anniversary. Today, the Chapter remains committed to encouraging and supporting the publication of quality research data. During the 1970's, an emphasis on education was reflected in many other Chapter activities. The Newsletter continued to offer members high caliber and varied articles, book reviews, and editorial pieces on all aspects of archaeology--both local and global, as well through cartoons, riddles, and quizzes. The popular "Backfill" section was replete with fascinating odds and ends each month (just like an old privy?). In addition, a series of "notebook sheets" were published in the Newsletter, consisting of single sheets with useful information for amateur archaeologists, which could be compiled in a loose-leaf notebook. The Newsletter gradually became an integral part of the Beauchamp Chapter--with members looking forward to their issues each month. Thanks to the efforts of its editors and such able assistants as Barbara Harris, the Newsletter won awards for quality at both the 1976 and 1977 Annual Meetings of NYSAA. This tradition of excellence continues today through the efforts of our current editors (since 1983), Ellis McDowell-Loudan and Gary Loudan. The Chapter was also enriched by many members who developed valuable research tools--for example Albert LaFrance's Guidebook on Late Woodland Ceramics- the original copy of which was somehow "lost" at the October 1977 Chapter meeting, and Robert DeOrio's many contributions to the development of a Cayuga cultural sequence. Right from the start, Chapter efforts were directed toward preservation of the past throughout Central New York. After starting with the question--" Can we save the past?" Chapter members answered-- "Well, we will certainly try!" This undertaking has been, and continues to be reflected in many types of activities ranging from specifics such as establishing site designation numbers, monitoring the sale of artifacts, and helping to preserve collections, to more esoteric activities, such as lobbying local governmental groups for assistance with archaeological issues, trying to raise public awareness of the affects of site mutilation, and tackling the difficult issue of the management of human burials. Throughout the years a pervasive theme has been the respect for private property in conjunction with preservation of the past. The Chapter has worked closely with local land development projects from Brewerton, to Pompey, to the piece of real estate now under the Carousel Center Mall complex. In one case, these efforts resulted in placement of a prehistoric site, Oberlander (Brewerton), on the National Register of Historic Places. Chapter members have been called out, frequently, to help salvage information from threatened archaeological sites allover the region--forming a veritable archaeological militia!

In 1980, the Chapter hosted its first annual NYSAA meeting, at the Holiday Inn in downtown Syracuse. The keynote speaker was Dr. James Tuck (Memorial University, St. Johns, Newfoundland), and syrnposia topics included historical ceramics and the Laurentian Archaic. In 1981, as part of its ongoing association with the Onondaga County Parks Department, the Chapter co-sponsored a trip to Ste. Marie among the Hurons and the Black Creek Ploneer Vlliage, in Ontario, Canada. From 1981 to 1987, the Chapter and County Parks worked together on the Mud Lock Tavern site located in Onondaga Lake Park. thanks to Dennis Connors and Gordon DeAngelo, this collaboration was most beneficial for the Chapter--both from an informational and educational standpoint. Highland Forest, another County Park property, also saw Chapter activity during the early 1980' s, under the able supervision is of Albert LaFrance. Another excellent Chapter tradition--the Fall and/or Spring SUNY Oswego one-or-two-day field school experience with the Pratts--was also firmly established during the 1980's. This weekend dig, on which many Chapter members have served as crew leaders or volunteers over the years, began first at Camp Drum, then the Potacki Site, and later at Indian Spring and Crego sites. An informative and exciting day was always guaranteed, culminating with culinary delights prepared by Marjorie Pratt. In the realm of historic archaeology, thanks to the efforts of Gordon DeAngelo and Barbara Speciale DeAngelo, Chapter members have had many fine excavation opportunities at the Chittenango Landing site from the Erie Canal era. Due in part to the ongoing activities of these two Chapter members, and the extensive support from the community of Chittenango, a fine museum is now present at this site.

During the 1980's, Chapter members continued to work with local land developers. Gregory Sohrweide, in particular, through his efforts to develop good relations with both property owners and developers, was instrumental in preserving portions of the Indian Hill site (acquired through Save The County) and for ensuring that development on the Weston site would proceed over a timetable allowing for some excavation work. These sites have continued to provide Chapter members with some excellent excavation experiences, thanks to Gregory Sohrweide. The Chapter also, developed working relationships with a variety of local non-profit groups such as the Friends of Historic Onondaga Lake, the Cazenovia preservation Foundation, and Save the County. Also, Chapter public relations were supported by consistently excellent coverage from Dick Case of the Syracuse Herald Journal, who has also taken training classes and participated in Chapter-sponsored excavations.

The Library continues to expand under the careful nurturing of Helen Tanner--reaching almost 100 separate volumes by 1994. The Chapter's cultural sequence work was put to very good use in 1982, with the publication of "An Introduction to Archaeology in Central New York," under the joint sponsorship of the Onondaga County Public Library, Onondaga County Parks and Recreation Department, and the William M. Beauchamp Chapter. The text and cultural sequence material for this pamphlet, which continues to be a valuable educational and public relations tool today, was provided the Beauchamp Chapter. From its long-time home at the Syracuse University School of Nursing, the Chapter moved briefly to the Onondaga County Parks Office in Liverpool in 1986, and then, found a new home at Christ the King Retreat House on Brookford Road in Syracuse.

Meetings continued to be enlivened throughout the 1980's by a large number of excellent speakers, many from neighboring NYSAA chapters, for example, Monte Bennett and Richard Hosback (Chenango Chapter), Dolores Elliott (Triple Cities Chapter), and many regional professionals such as Charles Hayes (Rochester Museum and Science Center) and R. Michael Gramly (formerly of the Buffalo Museum of Science). In 1987, the Chapter hosted their second annual state meeting, under the able and tireless guidance of Vicky Jayne. Held at the Holiday Inn, Carrier Circle, the meeting featured two keynote speakers, James Bradley and Richard Ping Hsu. Later that year, on October 1, 1987, James Bradley was honored at a reception hosted jointly by Syracuse University Press and the Beauchamp Chapter, on the publication of his book Evolution of the Onondaqa Iroquois. In 1988, the educational mission of the Chapter took a quantum leap forward thanks to the vision of Barbara Speciale DeAngelo, with the establishment of the William M. Beauchamp Chapter Founders' Scholarship Fund. This annual award, in the amount of $500, has now been given to five deserving college undergraduate students of archaeology, beginning with Daniel Weiskotten, in 1990, followed by Michael Vitale, in 1991, Susan Norris, in 1992, Nancy Zayatz in 1993 and Holly Sickles in 1994. The scholarship fund has been replenished over the years by a variety of money-making activities such as raffles, garage sales, book sales, donations of honoraria, donations from individual Chapter members, and through donations from other NYSAA chapters. With such fine financial support and the continued leadership and enthusiasm of Barbara DeAngelo, the annual scholarship fund has become another firmly established Chapter tradition.

In April, 1991 with great excitement and anticipation, the Chapter moved to a permanent home at the new Ste. Marie Among the Iroquois Interpretive Center. Thanks to the ongoing assistance of County Parks curator and Chapter member Valerie Bell, our new home Ste. Marie has more than lived up to its potential. The Center has not only provided an excellent setting for Chapter mettings, but it has also provided expanded opportunities for public outreach through co-sponsorship of workshops and programs. During the Fall of 1991 a very successful Wednesday night series of archaeological programs was offered at the center, co-sponsored by the Beauchamp Chapter and Onondaga County Parks. this series was so popular that it was repeated again in the Spring of 1992. Today, the Ste. Marie interpretive center continues to provide an excellent home base for the Chapter.

During 1992, the 4th revision of the Central New York Cultural Sequence Chart was completed, thanks to member Tyree Tanner. That same year saw continued activity at the Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum, with an excellent Chapter picnic on June 22, 1991, at which time members were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the submerged "guts" of an old canal boat due to be exposed as the aqueduct drainage activity occurred. Education continued to be a prime focus in 1993, with the presentation of a course entitled " Archaeology for the Avocational, " co-sponsored with the Friends of Historic Onondaga Lake, which culminated with a choice of two field experiences for the participants. Also in 1993, the Chapter hosted an Explorer Scout Post in archaeology. The Chapter members continue to be active in the field throughout the Central New York area--living up to the logo on their newly designed Chapter tee shirts and carry-bags: "Have Trowel, Will Travel!"

The Chapter and its members certainly have traveled a long way. Now, in 1995, during this 25th anniversary year of the William M. Beauchamp Chapter, we can look back and see, through this brief history, a devoted membership which, as its membership fluctuates, has remained committed to the mutually-supporting goals of furthering archaeological education and preserving the past. In this complex era of cultural resource management, increased sensitivity to the rights of native peoples and issues of repatriation, expanding collector demand for artifacts, both locally and globally, and what some perceive as a growing rift between the avocational and the professional academic archaeological community, the William M. Beauchamp Chapter has continued to develop a meaningful role for amateur, or avocational archaeology in Central New York. Over the years, the Chapter has been privileged to have many fine amateurs on its membership roster, many of whom have played a significant role in its history and have been mentioned previously. Many others are worthy of mention, among them, Soule Leiter, James Greene, Catherine Bair, Bobbi Thibault, and the late William Maier. There are, of course, many others! With the continued support of members of this caliber and dedication, the future of the William M. Beauchamp Chapter looks bright indeed!

 

Margot Lavoie
William M. Beauchamp Chapter, NYSAA

 

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