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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Fun and Interesting Summer at Bucktoe Cemetery

Another season of work has come and gone with the Chester County Intermediate Unit's Migrant Education (CCIU) students this summer at the Bucktoe Cemetery. This was the third year working with the CCIU students who braved the heat this year to help continue the restoration and archaeological work at the Cemetery and church site. The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County (TLC) has been working with the New Garden Memorial UAME Church since 2011 along with the help of restorationist Eugene Hough of Saving Hallowed Ground. You can read more about the restoration and history of Bucktoe Cemetery here. This year's program at Bucktoe Cemetery was funded through generous support from CCRES, Inc. and the Sara Bowers Fund.

CCIU students on site of church
CCIU students and staff at the church site

headstone fragment found
Headstone fragment found
Students with the CCIU work with Eugene Hough in the cemetery to help locate signs of the missing graves as there are known to be over 120 individuals buried at the site, including at least 8 Civil War veterans. This year's work paid off as part of a headstone was found in the southwest area of the site. As you can see, the headstone belonged to a woman who died in 1870 and was found at the base of a tree.

Another exciting find in the cemetery this year was a penny, but this was no ordinary penny. It dates to 1880 and is from the Netherlands. The words you see on the front of the coin say Koningrijk der Nederlanden or Kingdom of the Netherlands. The reason behind its presence is unknown at this point, but it makes for a fascinating find.

1880 Koningrijk der Nederlanden penny
Besides working in the cemetery, the students helped continue archaeological excavations of the church site. The New Garden Memorial UAME church burned in 1904 and the congregation moved into Kennett Square where they have been located on Linden Street ever since. The exact location of the church foundation is unknown, but the general location is clear. Students are helping excavate small archaeological units to uncover remnants of the church and determine the exact dimensions. This year the students began to uncover large amounts of debris from the stone church including mortar, window glass, cut nails, and charcoal possibly from the wood floor or beams. The deeper the students go, the more frequently they uncover streaks of ash from the burning of the church.

Excavating within the church
Excavating and screening within the church foundation
The final segment of the students' day included a hike around the adjacent Bucktoe Creek Preserve where they discussed how the land reflects history. Students learned to interpret the landscape to best determine where landowners were more likely to build or not based on the available resources. Students visited multiple ruins on the Preserve and learned more about the community around the church. 

TLC had a great time with the CCIU students and look forward to having them out again next summer!

TLC can help organize an evening or weekend program for anyone interested in learning more about the Bucktoe Cemetery and archaeology. TLC has worked with scout groups for badges and can arrange private hikes or programs. If interested in learning more about the Bucktoe Cemetery program, please email or call 610-347-0347 ext. 104. Also stay tuned for our Chronicles Day event later this fall for a chance to explore the historic sites along the Red Clay Creek corridor!

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