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Assessing Historic Sites: Elements to Consider Charles S. Wallis, Jr. State Historic Preservation Office a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society.

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Presentation on theme: "Assessing Historic Sites: Elements to Consider Charles S. Wallis, Jr. State Historic Preservation Office a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society."— Presentation transcript:

1 Assessing Historic Sites: Elements to Consider Charles S. Wallis, Jr. State Historic Preservation Office a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society

2 Acknowledgements Maps of Oklahoma shown in this presentation are taken from Historical Atlas of Oklahoma, 4 th ed. 2006. OU Press, C. Goins & D. Goble Cherokee County, Camp Gruber site images are from LopezGarcia Group, Dallas, TX cultural resource reports prepared for the Oklahoma Military Department (OANG)

3 Assessing site eligibility: With emphasis directed towards evaluation of Late Historic Period Farmsteads Factors to consider: –Age –Complexity –Integrity –Significance

4 Site also needs to be evaluated within a Historic Context Identification –Placement within a cultural theme –Placement within its geographical and chronological limits

5 Historic Period Defining historic versus prehistoric –Dates vary depending on region Proto-historic (transition from pre- to post- contact period) –Oklahoma (1541 versus 1719) Coronado versus La Harpe’s expeditions Upper end date for consideration (WWII) –Cold War Era

6 French and Spanish Explorers

7 Assessment Based on Age Early Exploration Period –Deer Creek & Bryson Paddock sites (Kay Co.) Early- to mid-1700s (with French trading connection) –Spanish Fort (historic Wichita village, Jefferson Co.) Mid-1700s to early-1800s (site attacked by Spanish 1758 ) Removal Period 1820s-1850s –Typically associated with one of the five Civilized Tribes –Location of site may depend on degree of blood Slave owner/plantation oriented versus non-slave owner –Sites are generally located in eastern Oklahoma

8 Indian Territory, 1855-1866

9 Indian Territory, 1889

10 Northeastern Oklahoma Tribes

11 Historic Context: Pre-Statehood Settlement Pattern Period 1889-1906 –Land Runs –Allotment –Lotteries –Sealed Bids

12 Land Grab: Anglo-American Settlement Pattern Lands Opened by Runs –Unassigned Lands - April 22, 1889 –Iowa, Sac & Fox, Pottawatomie & Shawnee - September 22, 1891 –Cheyenne & Arapaho - April 19, 1892 –Cherokee Outlet - September 16, 1893 –Kickapoo - May 23, 1895

13 1889-1906 Land Openings

14 Settlement Pattern cont. Lands Opened by Allotment –Tonkawa - 1891 (now Kay County) –Pawnee - 1892 (now Pawnee County –Ponca - 1904 (now Kay & Noble counties) –Oto-Missouri - 1904 (now Noble County) –Kaw-1906 (now Kay County) –Osage - 1906 (now Osage County)

15 Allotments cont. (Five Civilized Tribes) Choctaws – 1897 Chickasaws – 1897 Seminoles – 1898 Creeks – 1901 Cherokees – 1902 –No surplus lands available for allotment in eastern Indian Territory –Land acquired through other means

16 Settlement Pattern cont. Lands Opened by Lottery –Wichita & Caddo - July 9 to August 6, 1901 –Comanche, Kiowa and Apache - July 9 to August 6, 1901 Lands Opened by Sealed Bids –Big Pasture - December 1906

17 Proposed State of Sequoyah, 1905

18 Determining site eligibility: Considerations Complexity of site –Single component versus multi-component Ethnicity Period(s) of occupation –Pre-1890 versus post-1890* *Post-1890s sites are more common due to large migration into territory as result of runs, lotteries, and purchases of allotments

19 Integrity and Significance: Both factors in decision Integrity: –Presence of features (foundation stones, water well, depressions denoting possible cellar or cistern, vegetative plantings, etc.) Demonstrates farmstead layout (integrity)

20 Integrity and Significance cont. Significance: Demonstrating the property has significance determined according to one or more of the following: –Criterion A –Criterion B –Criterion C –Criterion D

21 Integrity and Significance cont. Criterion A: associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history –settlement of a community or important battle field site Criterion B: associated with the lives of persons significant in our past –George Guess (aka Geo. Guyst, Geo. Guist, Geo. Gist) Criterion C: embody distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction –brick kiln or charcoal production/operation facility Criterion D: may yield information important in history or prehistory –archeological sites

22 An Example Historic Context: Cherokee Settlement Pattern –Camp Gruber: Native American Cherokee versus Cherokee Freedman Defined by allotment records and archeological sites

23 Early Cherokee Settlement

24 Cherokee Nation 1889

25 Case Studies Nannie Sleeper allotment, site 34MS404 John Benge allotment, site 34MS406 Manard Baptist Church, cemetery & school house, site 34MS407 Sequoyah’s Cabin Eliza Bressman allotment, site 34PT141

26 Plan Map: Site 34MS404 Nannie Sleeper Allotment

27 34MS404 Builder’s Trench

28 34MS404 ceramics


30 Settlement pattern 1896 GLO survey

31 Circa 1910 Cherokee Nation Township Map

32 Nannie Sleeper Allotment* *although chain of title shown below states site area was designated as homestead this is incorrect

33 Archival/ historical review According to 1898 GLO map (1896 field survey), site 34MS404 is in a wooded tract, at fork in road north of an orchard, with a house shown west of orchard in Section 21, not Section 16 (area of site) No house is shown for site area on either 1898, 1901 or 1936 maps House in section south of 34MS404 is situated on Lewis Sleeper’s allotment Artifact sample documents primarily 1830-50s occupation, with hint of later wares Possible history of single Cherokee family use, eventually conveyed to US. Govt. in 1937

34 Site 34MS404 eligibility cont. Nanny French (nee Sleeper) also known as Cricket married Louis G. Sleeper (a Texas born white) in 1896 They had a daughter named Nannie, born between 1900 & 1903, who died as a child in 1906 Nannie’s allotment is first recorded for the record in 1909, a date after parents had inherited the property Homestead allotment (40 acres) was selected within sections 6 and 11, not 16 where site 34MS404 is situated Pre-allotment Cherokee farmstead use of area supported by evidence, whether by this family remains uncertain

35 Outcome of Review: Site determined eligible by consensus Even though a clear association of site 34MS404 with the Sleeper family cannot be established, location has the potential to provide information concerning pre-allotment Cherokee farmsteads Site contains in situ features, important for defining site lay out Artifacts support initial Cherokee settlement of the area

36 John Benge Allotment Site 34MS406

37 Site 34MS406 Glasswares

38 Site 34MS406 Plan Map

39 Site 34MS406 Chain of Title

40 Archival/ historical research John Benge born circa 1889, resided with father Martin V. Benge who lived in Township east of J. Benge’s allotment (US Census 1900) Site 34MS406 on J. Benge 50 acre homestead allotment J. Benge’s homestead had all restrictions removed in 1921 when property conveyed to Adna Starr Benge, relationship unknown but possibly wife of a brother According to 1920 Muskogee County Court records, J. Benge resided with wife and family at Fort Lyon, CO Adna Benge a Fort Gibson subscription school teacher, rented a home in Nash Township (US Census 1920), but possibly not area of site 34MS406

41 Archival cont. In 1923, declaration of trust mentions “Benge Farm”, but for Section 22, not location of site In 1927, after failure to pay mortgage, property with site 34MS406 auctioned by mortgage company for $50 to M. W. Drumheller, an out of state owner (sale price suggests no home present) By 1937, after teaching for 42 years and as a resident of Fort Gibson, Adna Benge retired In 1934 property conveyed to Herbert Kreider, who in 1930 was listed as a white renter residing in Nash Township (US Census 1930) In 1942 property purchased by declaration of taking by the US Govt.

42 Summary of review No building noted for area, 1896 GLO survey Chain of title documents multiple owners Archival data unclear as to date of initial residency Artifact sample supports early-20 th century occupancy Occupants likely share croppers or renters, not initial Cherokee allottee 1941 aerial photo (of poor resolution) appears to still show two to four buildings in site area

43 Outcome of review: Site determined not eligible Association of site 34MS406 with John Benge may only be through receipt of a homestead allotment for the tract, not actual occupation Adna Benge’s occupation of site 34MS406 also not established, possible absentee owner only Sharecropper occupation also a possibility Artifact sample supports 20 th Century occupation, likely later Anglo owner use only

44 Manard Baptist Church, cemetery & school house, site 34MS407

45 Site 34MS407 Plan Map

46 Site 34MS407 Chain of Title

47 Outcome of review: Site determined eligible by consensus Documented early church and school use Cemetery reflects settlement pattern Uncommon site for region, has information potential for addressing post-allotment Cherokee Nation sites other than farmsteads

48 Questioning documented “History”: Examining the record An example: –Sequoyah’s cabin site, Oklahoma Historical Society property –Listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a National Historic Landmark (NHL)

49 Assessment Site is already listed on the National Register of Historic Places, assessment already determined There is however the question, is this the actual location of Sequoyah’s home? Was the house moved in from somewhere else in 1936? Should be verifiable by conducting an archeological survey of the entire OHS tract

50 USGS Brushy, Okla. Quadrangle 1973

51 Government Land Office Survey 1896-1897 (GLO 1898) Section 15, T12N, R25E

52 Sequoyah cabin versus Geo. Blair cabin Relationship of George Blair farmstead to Sequoyah’s cabin Sequoyah’s cabin site, Oklahoma Historical Society property as of 1936 Protective stone covering constructed by WPA in 1936-39 for “Sequoyah home shrine” Blair Cabin last occupied in 1960 Tract with George Blair’s cabin, later purchased and added to OHS property sometime after 1987

53 Grant Foreman Report to OHS Board March 1936 OHS Board minutes: –“During the lifetime of Mr. Thomas Blair I (Grant Foreman) secured a picture of the home of Sequoyah purchased by Mr. Blair’s father from Sequoyah’s widow, together with a statement and affidavit by Mr. Blair as to the facts establishing this home as Sequoyah’s home.”


55 Background Geo. BlairGeo. Blair born December 16, 1866, somewhere in the Flint District, Cherokee Nation –appears in the 1880 Cherokee census, age 13, while living in the Sequoyah District (now Sequoyah Co., Okla.) –appears in the 1900 Federal census as a farmer in the Cherokee Nation, I.T. –died 1910, buried in Blair Cemetery across road from cabin site –allotment stayed in family until property acquired by Oklahoma Historical Society

56 Background cont. Sequoyah born cir 1770 in Tennessee –1823 living among the Western Cherokees in Arkansas Territory (western Arkansas) –established salt works & blacksmith shop; resumed trading in the Sequoyah District, cir 1828 –died somewhere in Mexican Territory in 1843 (either northern Mexico or south Texas)

57 Blair Cabin

58 Chimney details

59 Detail of log notching pen 1

60 Detail of log notching pen 2

61 What would distinguish one site from another? Artifacts should be reflective of specific activities: –Sequoyah noted as having a drinking problem Compare quantity/distribution of alcohol related artifacts between sites –Documented excellent silver smith and iron worker Should be indications of these activities at the site –Including possible forge remains and blacksmith related debris –Inventor of the Cherokee alphabet Possibility of lead type with Cherokee letters even though no history of printing press on site

62 Assessing National Register of Historic Places eligibility cont. Potawatomi settlement pattern –Eliza Bressman farmstead (34PT141)

63 Potawatomi Nation

64 Work in progress 34PT141, Feature 34

65 Feature 34 cistern upper limits

66 Feature 34 cistern lower limits

67 Outcome of review: Site determined not eligible Occupation of site associated with a single family (mother passed down to daughter), however, late Potawatomi allotment use with tribal member (as well as family) not noted significant in history Determined not out of the ordinary farmstead site for the watershed, nor for the county Site occupied from 1896 up to 1948, artifact sample mainly associated with mid-20 th Century occupancy, not initial 1890s use

68 Where do we need to go next? Consider under-represented contexts –(both chronological and ethnic) Very little work has been conducted on pre-reservation era Historic Period sites in Oklahoma –Suggestions for consideration: »Osage settlements along Grand River & Three Forks area »Wichita villages, Devil’s Canyon region

69 Where do we need to go cont. Also few investigations relating to Native American, post- reservation era homesteads –Suggestions for consideration: »Seminole farmsteads (both pre and post- allotment times) »Apache prisoner of war sites at Fort Sill Point of fact: Almost no work has been conducted on post-1889 age homesteads regardless of region or ethnicity

70 Additional information concerning the evaluation of Historic Period archeological sites can be found at : State Historic Preservation Office’s web site, Fact Sheet #12: “Evaluating Historic Period Archeological Sties for the National Register under Section 106 with Particular Reference to Sites Dating after 1890”

71 Questions? If not, thank you

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