by Bernard K. Means, Virtual Curation Laboratory

There were was only one day that the WPA-funded Somerset County Archaeological Society worked on New Year’s Eve. As they did on the Hanna site on Christmas Eve 1935, Edgar Augustine and his crew of relief works spent the last day of December of that year on the same site.  It was colder and Augustine wrote:

The weather early this morning was more than a trifle fresh but the boys said they could take it and we did until noon.  I find that we have a very willing lot of men with one exception and they show an unusual intereste in the work which makes it nice for me. After we complete the New Year celebration the work will get back to normal again.

Findings that day included a polished turkey leg bone and a fragment of a pipe stem.

Winter excavations at Peck 1 at the Meyersdale Fairgrounds.

Winter excavations at Peck 1 at the Meyersdale Fairgrounds.

One year later the WPA crew was at the Peck site, located on the Meyersdale Fairgrounds. This New Year’s Eve, however, was cold and rainy and so no field work took place.  Augustine summarized the basic philosophy of New Deal archaeology in his report to the local assistant administrator of the WPA, a R. H. Krissinger:

We try to work the 52 1/2 hour shifts to the best advantage of the excavators and remember that the first object of the work is to provide for these men and their families but we also make every effort to carry on the work to the satisfaction of the [Pennsylvania] Historical Commission and the Works Progress Administration.

Augustine looked forward to getting back to work after the holidays, noting that “For bigger and better Indians in 1937 watch 10120.” 10120 refers to the WPA Project Number.

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