About a dozen or so educators participated in a week-long summer archaeology workshop at Atkins-Johnson Farm in Gladstone sponsored by Project Archaeology, a joint program of Montana State University and the federal Bureau of Land Management.
Bits of pottery from the mid-1800s were found quickly, without even disturbing the topsoil. Later exploratory digs turned up a metal thimble from the 19th century and a stone pathway leading from the farmhouse, presumably to the site of a former outhouse or cistern.
Project Archaeology has helped to organize workshops for area educators each summer since 2009 at the Fort Osage National Historic Landmark in Sibley.
Last year, the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence joined in. This year, the participants visited those two sites, as well as the Truman Home and the historic square in Independence, in addition to undertaking the first-ever archaeological survey of the Atkins-Johnson Farm & Museum grounds.
The farmstead was occupied from 1834 until 2004, when the city purchased the 22 acres that remained from a tract of land that was once much larger. Gladstone spent the next nine years turning the land into a park and the house into museum dedicated to the area’s history. There is a display case inside the home filled with objects found during the restoration — a paper doll, a powder horn, eating utensils — and Museum Manager Erica White said any interesting objects turned up during the two-day archaeological survey might be added to the exhibit.
White said the exploratory digging undertaken last month was just the first step in a potentially larger archaeological process.