Mississippi - De Soto NF
Closed! Uncovering Early Settlers in Southern Mississippi: Searching for John Fairley, The Sequel
October 26-31, 2015 (Including weekend)
Must commit to entire session
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. John Fairley entered the Mississippi Territory in 1818 to start a new life with his wife, ten children, and a couple of grandchildren. John was the youngest child of a wealthy family who had left Scotland when he was young. After traveling, the Fairley family settled near the banks of Black Creek, within the boundaries of what is now the De Soto Ranger District. John quickly found his niche in the Pine Hills, where he began logging and cattle herding. By 1840, the Fairley family owned 450 head of cattle on over 1200 acres of land and had more than 35 slaves of various ages. However, many homes in the region were abandoned prior to or destroyed during the American Civil War. As such, the exact location of the Fairley homestead was lost to time.
However, during the first phase of our search in October 2014, volunteers used metal detectors and shovels on the ridges around the Fairley family cemetery, Red Hill. Several "hot spots" located in 2014 were then excavated during Phase II, which took place in the spring of this year. After preliminary examination of the artifacts recovered, we believe what was excavated to be the slave living area. So, with that marker established, we'll try again this October to locate the Fairley home!
The De Soto NF staff would like to invite volunteers back for a week-long journey through a hard-to-access portion of the District. We'll again use metal detectors and shovels to locate future testing spots, but be warned: traveling through the woods will not be easy due to very steep hills! So, in addition, for those who don't want to walk through the woods, there will be a small group helping University of Southern Mississippi students test the validity of the dowsing rod data from last fall - examining possible unmarked graves outside of the cemetery! So something for everybody - hope to see you in October!
Number of openings: 20
Special Skills: Volunteers participating in the woodland survey must be physically capable of hiking moderate distances each day through rough terrain; previous survey, excavation, metal-detecting, mapping and/or other archaeological experience, particularly on the De Soto NF, is desired, but not required; volunteers must have the ability to laugh, have fun, and tolerate the project leader's jokes!
Minimum age: 18 years old
Facilities: Tent and RV camping available at Paul B. Johnson State Park; water, hook-ups, bath house; fees will apply; Hattiesburg and Wiggins are full-service communities with hotels/motels, restaurants, and a full range of other amenities; volunteers responsible for own lodging/camping equipment, food, and daily transportation to designated meeting area
Nearest towns: Janice, 12 miles; Wiggins, 14 miles; Brooklyn, 20 miles
Applications due: August 31, 2015