Ozaukee County Guide e-edition
Issue link: http://www.ifoldsflip.com/i/718407
August 24, 2016 By Kay Dahlke News Graphic Features Editor Because of the discovery last Tuesday of historic artifacts on the banks of the Milwaukee River at the south end of the village of Grafton's new riverwalk, the Parks and Recreation Department called in anthropologist Sarah Smith of the Port Washington Historical Society to take a look. At her invitation, Vicki and Nick Schanen, Sarah's dad, Rick Smith, and Nick Barts, an intern for the summer in the Grafton Parks and Recreation , really dug in. "This is what we call a midden site," Smith said. "It's most likely a trash dump, but it gives us a look at daily life back then. We look at humanity through retrieved material. We can see how the citizens chose to spend their money – a look at their culture. They found artifacts that had been thrown into the river banks over the years – most likely between the 1870s and 1930s. Smith described the operation as more of a salvage excavation. "I call these diagnostic artifacts," she said, "but there's more here than I thought." The group uncovered clear links of human activity: halters and horse mandibles that would indicate a livery and blacksmith close by, chicken and other animal bones suggesting a butcher, and decorative items including half a pocket mirror, a woman's decorative bone hair comb, an chimney glass from a kerosene or oil lamp. Smith pointed to lines of stratigraphy, indicating layers of lime and ash that showed the site had been periodically burned, probably to make room for more trash. The diggers retrieved what they could, and construction crews finished backfilling the spot early Friday. "We got what we could," Smith said. "It's not appropriate to delay the walk any more." 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Center, the workers filled boxes with items dating from what they surmise was a dump site along the Milwaukee River, dating back to as early as 1870. Right, Nick Schanen, Nick Barts and Vicki Schanen furiously retrive items before the bulldozer crew backfills the site.