John Fairley II 2015 - Passport in Time

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Mississippi - De Soto NF
Closed!  Early Settlers in Southern Mississippi: Excavation of the John Fairley Homestead

March 18-21; 23-28; 30-31; April 1-3, 2015 (Including Saturdays)

Must commit to one entire session; may participate in more

After the American government completed the Louisiana Purchase, settlers started trickling into the new territory. Mississippi, which was part of this newly available area, went through two waves of early settlement, the first sometime around 1810, and the second around 1818.

One of these early settlers of the territory was John Fairley and his family, who entered southern Mississippi sometime during the second immigrant "wave." However, the Fairley Homestead, among others in the region, left behind little evidence of what daily life was like for them - most of the homesteads not abandoned beforehand were abandoned or destroyed during the American Civil War. We would like to get to know these early pioneers of the Mississippi Territory, and see what the past has to tell us about them, via artifacts and features that still remain on the landscape.

During the fall of 2014, volunteers and FS staff used metal detectors and shovels on the ridges around the John Fairley family cemetery at Red Hill. We believe we encountered the remains of the Fairley Homestead at that time, based on the presence of machine cut nails, belt buckles, handmade bricks, harness pieces, hand painted historic pottery, and bottle glass. Not surprisingly for the region, we also found prehistoric artifacts.

This year, the De Soto would like to invite PIT volunteers to return to the site for a two-week-long excavation and journey through time in an, admittedly, hard-to-access portion of the De Soto Ranger District. Traveling through the woods to the site will not be easy, due to very steep hills and ground cover, so please consider this before applying, but we promise - it will be well worth it! In addition, during three days of the final week, we will have small groups of school children visiting and helping, so you'll get to play student and teacher!

We hope you'll join us this spring for this hike into Mississippi's past - it will be good, dirty fun, and promises to be as informative as it will be interesting. See you in March!

Number of openings: 16 (4 per session)

Special skills: Must be physically capable of hiking over moderate to rough terrain each day to access work site; must be physically capable of sitting/kneeling/standing for extended periods each day, "moving dirt" slowly and carefully and, most importantly, laughing, having fun, and listening to bad jokes; previous archaeological excavation, site mapping, artifact identification experience, and/or archaeological work specifically on the De Soto NF is helpful and desired, but not required

Minimum age: 18 years old

Facilities: Developed tent and RV camping at Paul B. Johnson State Park available; water, flush toilets, bathhouse, and a full range of other amenities; fees will apply; Hattiesburg (~ 38 miles) and Wiggins are full-service communities, with hotels/motels, restaurants, and a full range of other amenities; volunteers responsible for own lodging/personal camping equipment, food, water, and daily transportation to and from designated meeting area

Nearest towns: Janice, 12 miles; Wiggins, 14 miles; Brooklyn, ~ 20 miles

Applications due: Filled!
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