In 2011 Lori and I took steps to protect the archaeological, natural and agricultural values of our land by enacting a conservation easement on our land and held by the Nebraska Land Trust. This way even if we don’t own the land someday, the land will still be protected.
As part of that process Trisha Nelson, the the Curator of the Nebraska State Historical Society’s Archaeological Collection, visited our land and we walked through all the archaeologically important areas. Below is her report.
Trisha has visited our site on several occasions and trained my family in the basics of excavation. To learn more about this, please visit the Archaeology Page on my personal website.
Prepared for the Nebraska Land Trust
By Trisha Nelson
Nebraska State Historical Society
Prior to the baseline survey, the Nebraska State Historical Society (NSHS) had on record one archeological site within the boundaries of the proposed Hosford Easement. That site is 25BO27, a Central Plains tradition site investigated by local informant Wayne Molhoff in 1994 and 1995.
The Central Plains tradition (CPt) dates to the period of about AD 900-1300, and sites occur over a large area including parts of Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and eastern and southern Nebraska. Archeological remains indicate that these people had a diverse economy based on farming, hunting, fishing and gathering. They lived in semi-permanent rectangular earthlodges with single central hearths and sub-floor cache pits. In undisturbed areas, CPt earthlodge remains are visible as surface depressions. “Today, it is difficult to locate Central Plains tradition sites with remaining integrity.”
Mr. Molhoff’s notes, sketch maps and artifact drawings indicated at least one earthlodge depression and several other features and artifact concentrations on the Hosford property. At the time of his investigation, he observed and/or collected arrowheads, chipped stone debris (flakes), pottery sherds, fire-cracked rock, animal bone, shell, burned earth and charcoal.
A few months prior to my knowledge of this easement, I had the pleasure of meeting Paul Hosford when he visited the NSHS for other reasons. He spoke of mounds multiple earthlodge depressions, concentrations of artifacts, and other archeological features and probably burial locations on his property. He directed me to a report he had written about his observations on the Hosford property. I was intrigued to say the least; I realized soon after that we had this report on file but none of our staff had yet had an opportunity to visit his place.
The pedestrian baseline survey of the Hosford property in the fall of 2011 was nothing short of amazing and impressive from an archeological perspective. We saw earthlodge depressions, an eroding feature (likely the remains of an earthlodge) in a cutbank, a rectangular raised earthen feature, a possible path, and potential burial features over a vast area (see image below) that caused Mr. Hosford’s dowsing rods to move. It should perhaps be noted that while the dowsing rod technique is not universally accepted some professional archeologists have used it with success. Evidence of extensive native settlement is without a doubt present on this property; surely unmarked burials are present too.
As impressive as the archeology on this property is the fact the Hosfords are taking wonderful care of these cultural resources. The mysterious and probably sacred earthen mounds are protected by fencing; possible burial areas remain undisturbed, as do many intact earthlodge depressions. Also, the Hosfords provide educational opportunities to share these resources with the community. They indicated that they’d like to do more of this, perhaps even do a salvage excavation of the feature eroding into the stream.
The cultural resources on the Hosford easement and the Hosford’s stewardship are a real asset to the history of Nebraska.