After about two years, the Newberry Cabin has been excavated from land in Millsap.
The cabin was moved to the Doss Culture and Heritage Center earlier this month.
At the beginning of the excavation, DHCC officials asked WC Physical Sciences Department Chairperson Lori Gouge if the college would help with the excavation. At the time, WC didn’t have an introduction to archeology class, so the course was created.
The class, taught by adjunct instructor Katrina Nuncio, was created as a hybrid course taught online and in-person and involved meetings to work on the excavation with the help of the Tarrant County Archeological Society.
The class was not available this semester because of lack in enrollment, Gouge said.
“It’s incredibly fun and fulfilling,” Gouge said. “Students who do sign up for this go on to major in anthropology, but you don’t have to. You can do this just to get an elective.”
Nuncio said she felt emotional when the cabin was moved.
“It was weird,” Nuncio said. “It was like ‘it’s a cabin, they’re moving it,’ but it’s my baby.”
The Newberry Cabin dates back to between 1850s to 1870s, Doss Heritage and Culture Center Museum Affairs Director Amanda Edwards said. It was built on land purchased by the Newberrys, though it is unclear who built it.
The Newberry family came to Parker County early in the county’s history and married into other pioneer families, Edwards said.
“We’re looking at it as this pioneer family that was instrumental in some of the early Parker County groups and people that have moved here from the east,” Edwards said.
The first step in excavations is to estimate the elevation of the land then mark off a certain area, Nuncio said. Archeologists dig about 10 centimeters at a time, and put the dirt through a screen to shake for artifacts, which go to a lab for analysis.
The class allows students to experience history by finding things that were useful to people at one point.
Now that the cabin has been moved, students can dig underneath the cabin for more artifacts, Nuncio said.
“We’re finding things that these people used, their dinnerware and things like this. We found a pair of scissors intact,” Nuncio said. “The clothing, we found enough buttons that had the name ‘Honorbrite’ on it. And in the middle of the button, it had a little sunshine with rays coming off of it. We found enough of those that it would complete a set of shoes.”
WC alumna Valerie Quindt took the archeology class in fall 2017 and remembers how precise the process was. She plans on majoring in anthropology and wants to become an archeology professor.
“The class actually did help me figure out that I wanted to do that,” Quindt said. “I was into it when I was younger, and then having this class, I was like, oh, I can actually do this for a career?”
Gouge is also leading a project to unearth a Columbian mammoth at WC. The task is available for volunteers ages 18 and up to participate in as well as geology students.
The mammoth project started a few years ago when someone contacted Gouge about a tusk sticking out of the ground in North Parker County. Excavations of the bones were done in summer 2017 and now the project consists of cleaning the bones. About 40 percent of the mammoth was removed from the ground.
Though they are working on identifying the age of the mammoth, Gouge said they know it’s a male, 14-foot Columbian mammoth.
Gouge welcomed those interested in assisting with the project to contact her. She said even those who don’t know how to perform such a task are welcome to learn.
“I can show anybody how to sit down and work on a section of it and get the dirt off of it, or whatever it is we’re doing in the lab,” Gouge said. “It’s very satisfying if you like that kind of thing, if you like to tinker, I mean if you like to put together crossword puzzles or just do really slow, deliberate detailed work on anything, needlework or anything. It is very, very therapeutic.”