Delaware Valley Archaeology and History Symposium at the Arsenal in New Castle, Del. on Dec. 7, 2019

Archaeologists and volunteers working at the Avery’s Rest site.

(DOVER, Del.—Nov. 21, 2019)—On Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the Archaeological Society of Delaware and the New Castle Historical Society, will present the “Delaware Valley Archaeology and History Symposium.” The event will include scholarly presentations on the history and archaeology of the lower Delaware Valley including new research and recent updates on the Avery’s Rest archaeological site in Sussex County Del., and the search for Fort Casimir in New Castle, Del.

Illustration depicting Fort Casimir
Image of Fort Casimir after it had been captured by the Swedes, improved and renamed Fort Trefalddighet.

The symposium will take place at the Arsenal building, headquarters of the New Castle Historical Society, located at 30 Market St. in New Castle, Del. Admission is free and open to the public. For additional information about the symposium, contact coordinator John Martin at John.W.Martin@delaware.gov or call 302-736-7406. For information on the Arsenal building, call 302-322-2794.

The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs is an agency of the State of Delaware. The division enhances Delaware’s quality of life by preserving the state’s unique historical heritage, fostering community stability and economic vitality and providing educational programs and assistance to the general public on Delaware history. The division’s diverse array of services includes operation of five museums which are accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, administration of the State Historic Preservation Office, conservation of the state’s archaeological and historic-objects collections, operation of a conference center and management of historic properties across the state. Primary funding for division programs and services is provided by annual appropriations from the Delaware General Assembly and grants from the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, a federal agency. However, the contents and opinions expressed in the division’s programs and services do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Department of the Interior.

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Contact:
Jim Yurasek
Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs
Phone: 302-739-7787
E-mail: Jim.Yurasek@delaware.gov
Web: http://history.delaware


“Queenstown and the Early Colonial Delmarva: An Archaeological and Historical Symposium” at Delaware’s New Castle Court House Museum on Oct. 13, 2018

(DOVER, Del.—Oct. 3, 2018)—On Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018, from 8:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the Archaeological Society of Delaware, will present “Queenstown and the Early Colonial Delmarva: An Archaeological and Historical Symposium.” The event will include scholarly presentations on My Lord’s Gift, a 17th century archaeological site in Queenstown, Md.; and the Coleman Farm, Reedy Island and Fort Casimir sites in Delaware. A schedule of symposium activities is included below.

The My Lord’s Gift site in Queenstown, Md. will be among the topics explored at the Oct. 13, 2018 archaeological symposium.
The My Lord’s Gift site in Queenstown, Md. will be among the topics explored at the Oct. 13, 2018 archaeological symposium.

The symposium will take place at the New Castle Court House Museum located at 211 Delaware St. in New Castle, Del. Admission is free and open to the public. For additional information, contact Craig Lukezic at craig.lukezic@delaware.gov or call 302-736-7407.

Schedule of events

8:45 a.m.
Introduction

Remarks by Craig Lukezic, symposium coordinator and archaeologist, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs; and Jay Custer, professor of anthropology and director of the Center for Archaeological Research, University of Delaware

9:15 a.m.
Current Research at My Lord’s Gift, the 17th and 18th-Century Home of Henry Coursey and His Family

Jay Custer, professor of anthropology and director of the Center for Archaeological Research, University of Delaware

9:45 a.m.
Deciphering the Architecture of Henry Coursey’s My Lord’s Gift Plantation

Henry Miller, adjunct professor of anthropology, St. Mary’s College of Maryland

10:15 a.m.
BREAK

10:30 a.m.
Analysis of the Ceramic Assemblage at My Lord’s Gift Site

Andrea Anderson, lab coordinator, Department of Anthropology, University of Delaware

11:10 a.m.
Recorded and Recovered: Preliminary Interpretations of Henry Coursey’s Probate Inventory

Barb Silber, archaeologist

11:35 a.m.
An Unusual Earthenware Object from the My Lord’s Gift’ Site

Patricia Samford, director of the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum

Lunch

1:30 p.m.
Reedy Island: The Gravesend of the Delaware

Bruce A. Bendler, adjunct professor of history, University of Delaware

2:15 p.m.
Future Research at the Coleman Farm Site

Lu Ann De Cunzo, professor and chair, Department of Anthropology, University of Delaware

3:00 p.m.
Future Research of the Fort Casimir Battlefield Project

Craig Lukezic, symposium coordinator and archaeologist, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs

The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs is an agency of the State of Delaware. The division enhances Delaware’s quality of life by preserving the state’s unique historical heritage, fostering community stability and economic vitality and providing educational programs and assistance to the general public on Delaware history. The division’s diverse array of services includes operation of five museums which are accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, administration of the State Historic Preservation Office, conservation of the state’s archaeological and historic-objects collections, operation of a conference center and management of historic properties across the state. Primary funding for division programs and services is provided by annual appropriations from the Delaware General Assembly and grants from the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, a federal agency. However, the contents and opinions expressed in the division’s programs and services do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Department of the Interior.

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Contact:
Jim Yurasek
Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs
Phone: 302-739-7787
E-mail: Jim.Yurasek@delaware.gov
Web: http://history.delaware.gov


Archaeological Discovery Writes New Chapter in Delaware’s Early Colonial History

REHOBOTH – An archaeological study years in the making has revealed a wealth of new information about some of Delaware’s earliest colonial settlers and shed new light on what life would have been like in the region three centuries ago.

The discovery of numerous artifacts as well as 11 well-preserved burial sites dating to the late 1600s fills in gaps in Delaware’s early history, telling the story of the colonists’ physical health, diet, family life, and how they made their living. Three of the burials, one a young child, were determined to be of African descent, constituting the earliest known discovery of remains of enslaved people in Delaware.

In cooperation with Delaware’s historical community, the state will now collaborate on a major research project to attempt to identify each of the individuals buried at the site. Future plans will be developed to exhibit the findings, possibly to include facial reconstructions based on the skeletal remains.

“Delaware’s history is rich, fascinating and deeply personal to many of us who call this state home,” said Secretary of State Jeff Bullock. “Discoveries like this help us add new sharpness to our picture of the past, and I’m deeply grateful to the passionate community of historians, scientists and archeologists who have helped bring these new revelations to light.”

The site of the discoveries is Avery’s Rest, a 17th century plantation located in what is now West Rehoboth. The original owner was John Avery, who once served as a judge in nearby Lewes in the period just after the colony transitioned from Dutch to English rule.

“This is a story of the life and death of some of the earliest Europeans and Africans to occupy what is now the state of Delaware,” said Daniel Griffith of the Archeological Society of Delaware. “Their interactions with neighbors, colonial governments and global connections with Europe, Africa, and the British colonies, is revealed to us through archaeology and archival research. The story is even more significant as its telling would not have been possible without the volunteer efforts of many members of the Archaeological Society of Delaware.”

Designated a historically significant site in the 1970s, Avery’s Rest was slated for development in 2005, which spurred the first round of excavations and surveys at the property by the Archeological Society of Delaware in collaboration with the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. Over the next few years, archeologists continued to work the site and branch out into neighboring parcels, uncovering artifacts and evidence of structures from the original plantation.

The first burials were discovered in 2012. This triggered a legal process under the state’s Unmarked Human Remains Act, which identified three known descendants of John Avery.

With their consent, the state engaged Dr. Douglas Owsley of the Smithsonian Institution for his expertise in the field of physical anthropology and his well-known work with early colonial settlements at Jamestown, Va. and St. Mary’s City, Md. The remains were excavated and transferred to the Smithsonian for advanced DNA testing under Dr. Owsley’s supervision.

“Avery’s Rest provides a rare opportunity to learn about life in the 17th century, not only through the study of buried objects and structures, but also through analyses of well-preserved human skeletal remains,” said Dr. Owsley, who leads the Division of Physical Anthropology at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. “The bone and burial evidence provides an intriguing, personal look into the life stories of men, women and children on the Delaware frontier, and adds to a growing body of biological data on the varied experiences of colonist and enslaved populations in the Chesapeake region.”

Bone and DNA analysis confirmed that three of the burials were people of African descent and eight were of European descent. Coupled with research from the historical record, Dr. Owsley further determined that the European burials may be the extended family of John Avery and his wife Sarah, including their daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren. However, genetic markers alone are not sufficient to determine the exact identities of the remains.

“This archeological discovery is truly exciting, and reminds us that the ancestors will always make themselves known to us if we listen. The stories of their sacrifices in life and remembrances in death are truly ‘written in bone’ for us to interpret, understand and honor,” said Dr. Angela Winand, head of the Mitchell Center for African American Heritage and Diversity Programs at the Delaware Historical Society. “Long ago, these individuals formed a community at Avery’s Rest upon which our present and our future as a culturally diverse state rests. I look forward to learning more about this discovery from our partners at ASD and the Smithsonian, and sharing these stories with all of Delaware’s citizens, through the work of the Mitchell Center.”

The remains will stay in the custody of the Smithsonian, where they will assist ongoing work to trace the genetic and anthropological history of the early colonial settlers of the Chesapeake region. Delaware law strictly forbids the public display of human remains.

In Delaware, the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will continue to work with the Delaware Historical Society, the Archeological Society of Delaware and others to craft a plan to exhibit the Avery’s Rest findings for the public.

Avery’s Rest – key dates

• 1976 – Site identified by Delaware state archeologists
• 1978 – Site listed in the National Register of Historic Places
• 2005 – Proposed development plan in the area raises concerns from the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs
• 2006 – The state obtains landowner permission to survey the site
• 2006-08 – The Archaeological Society of Delaware, with assistance from the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, carries out surveys and excavations of the part of the site to be affected by the development
• 2009 – The Archaeological Society of Delaware continues its investigation on adjacent properties
• 2010 – An exhibit on findings is presented at the Rehoboth Historical Society
• 2010-12 – The Archaeological Society of Delaware continues its investigation on adjacent properties
• Sept. 2012 – First burials identified
• Nov. 2012 – In accordance with Delaware law, the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs publishes a notice of the discovery seeking next-of-kin; three descendants of John Avery come forward
• 2013 – Next-of-kin and property owner consent to excavation and analysis of burials; Archaeological Society of Delaware continues investigation and identifies a total of 11 burials
• Sept. 2014 – Memorandum of Agreement signed by Historical and Cultural Affairs, Smithsonian, Archaeological Society of Delaware, and next-of-kin for Smithsonian excavation of the burials, with Historical and Cultural Affairs oversight; remains are transferred to the Smithsonian.
• March 2017 – Smithsonian confirms the age, gender, and ethnicity of the burials
• Aug. 2017 – Final report completed by the Smithsonian


Symposium on the Early Colonial Archaeology of the Delaware Valley Region to be held at Delaware’s New Castle Court House Museum on May 9, 2015

(DOVER, Del.—May 4, 2015)—On Saturday, May 9, 2015, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the Archaeological Society of Delaware, will present “The Early Colonial Delaware Valley—An Archaeological Symposium.” Now in its eighth year, the symposium is dedicated to building a regional-level dialog that can identify the uniqueness of the cultures that existed in the Delaware Valley during the early period of European colonization. A schedule of symposium activities is included below. Go to the following for complete program descriptions.

New Castle Court House Museum
New Castle Court House Museum

The symposium will take place at the New Castle Court House Museum located at 211 Delaware St. in New Castle, Del. Admission is free and open to the public. For additional information, contact Craig Lukezic at craig.lukezic@delaware.gov or call 302-736-7407.

Schedule of events

8:45 a.m.          Introduction
Craig Lukezic, symposium coordinator and archaeologist, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs

9 a.m.               New Archaeological Research for the Lost Corbit Tannery
John Bansch, volunteer coordinator of archaeology projects, Historic Odessa Foundation

9:45 a.m.          Thomas Noxon: Building Appoquinimink Hundred
Bruce A. Bendler, adjunct professor of history, University of Delaware

10:30 a.m.        Testing Taste in a Community of Faith: Some Implications of Colonial Quaker Aesthetics and Consumer Patterns
John P. McCarthy, cultural preservation specialist, Delaware State Parks

11 a.m.–1 p.m. Lunch

1 p.m.              Discovery and Recovery of Eleven Colonial Burials from Avery’s Rest, Sussex County, Delaware
Daniel R. Griffith, Archaeological Society of Delaware

1:45 p.m.          Carter’s Alley: A Case Study in the Evolution of Colonial Philadelphia
Meagan Ratini and Kevin C. Bradley, John Milner Associates, a Commonwealth Cultural Resources Group, Inc. company.

2:15 p.m.          Service Learning Archaeology at Old Swedes Church
Presentations by students of the Department of Anthropology, University of Delaware

2:45 p.m.          Digging at the Surface: Historic Graffiti, Inscription, and the Liminality of Text at Holy Trinity Church (Old Swedes) in Wilmington, Delaware, 1698-1870
Michael J. Emmons, Jr., research assistant, Center for Historic Architecture and Design, University of Delaware

3:30 p.m.          The Origins of Indian Trade Silver: Lenape Brooches from Southeastern Pennsylvania
Marshall Joseph Becker, professor of anthropology emeritus, West Chester University

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Contact:
Jim Yurasek
Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs
Phone: 302-736-7413
E-mail: Jim.Yurasek@delaware.gov
Web: http://history.delaware.gov


Lecture on the salvage of His Majesty’s Sloop DeBraak to take place at Lewes, Del.’s Zwaanendael Museum on Jan. 17, 2015

-Listing of museum events through May 2015 also included-

(DOVER, Del.—Jan. 5, 2015)—On Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015 at 2 p.m., the Zwaanendael Museum, located at 102 Kings Highway in Lewes, Del., will present a lecture on the salvage of His Majesty’s Sloop DeBraak presented by Claudia Leister, executive director of the Milford Museum. The program is the 1980s chapter of “Delaware Decades,” an eight-part series of lectures exploring successive decades in Delaware’s history from the 1930s to the 2000s. Admission to the event is free and open to the public but, due to space restrictions, reservations are required by calling the museum at 302-645-1148 no later than Jan. 16, 2015.

Artistic rendition of the capsizing of the DeBraak by Peggy Kane, 1990.
Artistic rendition of the capsizing of the DeBraak by Peggy Kane, 1990.

DeBraak was a British sloop of war that was escorting and protecting a convoy of British and American merchant ships en route to the United States when it was capsized and lost off the Delaware coast on May 25, 1798. The ship was raised, and badly damaged, during a commercial salvage operation in 1986. The remaining section of the ship’s hull and associated artifact collection have been curated by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs since they were acquired by state of Delaware in 1992.

Claudia Leister has served as executive director of the Milford Museum since retiring as the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ curator of collections management in June 2011. She began her 34-year career with the division in March 1977 as a volunteer at the Island Field Museum. The following month, she was hired as a casual/seasonal supervisor for a summer archaeological team followed by work as an archaeological assistant. In 1980, she began full-time employment as the division’s registrar (later renamed curator of registration, then curator of collections management). Beginning in 1986, she was deeply involved in the processing, cataloging and curating of artifacts from the DeBraak shipwreck. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in archaeology/anthropology from Michigan State University, and a master’s degree in history from the University of Delaware.

Claudia Leister
Claudia Leister

The Zwaanendael Museum was built in 1931 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the state’s first European colony, Swanendael, established by the Dutch along Hoorn Kill (present-day Lewes-Rehoboth Canal) in 1631. Designed by E. William Martin (architect of Legislative Hall and the Hall of Records in Dover), the museum is modeled after the town hall in Hoorn, the Netherlands, and features a stepped-facade gable with carved stonework and decorated shutters.

Zwaanendael Museum
Zwaanendael Museum

Following is a schedule of Zwaanendael-Museum-sponsored events through May 2015. Unless otherwise noted, all programs take place at the Zwaanendael Museum located at 102 Kings Highway in Lewes, Del. Museum hours from Nov. 1 to March 31 are Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. From April 1 to Oct. 31, museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and Sunday, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free for all events listed. For additional information, call 302-645-1148.

Zwaanendael Museum exhibits and displays
Note: Recent program changes are highlighted in brown.

Ongoing
Delaware and the War of 1812.” Exhibit examines the service and sacrifice of Delawareans of 1812 to 1815, and the important role that the state played in a conflict that helped shaped the development of the United States.

Ongoing
A Seaborne Citizenry: The DeBraak and Its Atlantic World.Exhibit utilizes artifacts recovered from His Majesty’s Sloop of War DeBraak, a British warship that sank off the Delaware coast on May 25, 1798 to tell the story of the vessel, its crew and the historical context within which it operated in the Atlantic World of the late 18th century.

Thru April 12, 2015 Ongoing
Simple Pleasures: Play and Dance.” Display of original Edwardian and roaring-20s fashions that reflect the spirit of the liberated “modern” woman as depicted in the “Downton Abbey” television series. From the collections of the state of Delaware. Note change in closing date.


Zwaanendael Museum upcoming special events
Note: Recent program changes are highlighted in brown.

Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015
“Delaware’s Decades—the 1980s: ‘Salvage of His Majesty’s Sloop DeBraak.’ ” Lecture by Claudia Leister, executive director of the Milford Museum. Part six of an eight-part series exploring decades in Delaware’s history.2 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations are required by calling 302-645-1148 no later than Jan. 5 16, 2015. Note change in reservations deadline.

Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015
“Delaware’s Decades—the 1990s.” Program description TBA. Don Voltz, executive director of the Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame, will discuss the planning and creation of the museum and its inductees. Part seven of an eight-part series exploring decades in Delaware’s history. 2 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations are required by calling 302-645-1148 no later than Feb.2, 2015. Note updated program information.

Saturday, March 14, 2015
Delaware’s Decades—the 2000s. Lecture by Bill Ayrey, lab manager and company historian from ILC Dover, who will discuss the future of space travel and space suits from the early 2000s to the present. Eighth and final installment of a series exploring decades in Delaware’s history. 2 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations are required by calling 302-645-1148 no later than March 2, 2015.

Thursday–Saturday, April 9–11, 2015
Lewes Tulip Celebration. City-wide series of activities celebrating Lewes’ Dutch heritage including Dutch games, crafts and a display of Delftware ceramics at the Zwaanendael Museum. Sponsored by the Lewes Chamber of Commerce. Downtown Lewes. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. 302-645-8073.

Saturday, April 18, 2015
Dutch-American Friendship Day. Discover Delaware’s Dutch roots and learn how that connection is alive today.10 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 25, 2015
King’s Day. Celebration of the birthday of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands in a program that will also explore royal titles and Delaware’s Dutch connection. 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Saturday, May 23, 2015
Fourth Annual Zwaanendael Maritime Festival: “A Sailor’s Life for Me.” Maritime-themed activities, games, displays by local organizations and more.10 a.m.–3 p.m.

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Contact:
Jim Yurasek
Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs
Phone: 302-736-7413
E-mail: Jim.Yurasek@delaware.gov
Web: http://history.delaware.gov