Dig of the Week: Deane House Archeological Discoveries Help Tell the Story of the 1634 Wethersfield Colony

Deane House Archeological Discoveries Help Tell the Story of the 1634 Wethersfield Colony

By Carla Charter

WETHERSFIELD, CONN- In Wethersfield, items dating from the town’s first colony, in 1636, were uncovered behind the Silas Deane House. The Deane House as well as the Joseph Webb House, Isaac Stevens House and the Buttolph-Williams House are all part of the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum are managed by the National Society of Colonial Dames in America of Connecticut.

The discovery was made during an assessment for a proposed new educational and visitors center that was to be built. The assessment was a requirement by the Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office to ensure that significant archeological resources would not be impacted by the construction. PAST The Public Archeological Survey team (PAST) of Storrs Connecticut, were in charge of the dig which was completed in October of 2018.

“They did 19 test digs and used ground penetrating radar,” according to Charles T. Lyle, Executive Director of the Webb Museum. As a result, they discovered features in one area behind the Deane house which was pursued with a larger excavation.  The ground penetrating radar survey has also identified possible buried cellar holes, midden (garbage) deposits, or privy remnants.

Among the items found during the archeological excavation were coins from 1620, an intact palisaded or fortified wall, Wampum, which were beads used as money when trading with the settlers, diamond paned windows, leaded material used to cure windows and iron clothing hooks. A protected layer of ash facilitated in preserving the materials.

Wethersfield was settled in 1634 and became a town in 1635.  This newly discovered area is a section of that early settlement. Wethersfield is one of the two earliest settlements in Connecticut with Windsor being the other.

Previous to Wethersfield being settled, the Dutch had arrived in the area to trade with the Native Americans for furs, which they sent back to Europe.  However, the Dutch came solely to trade while the English came to settle, Lyle said.

In April 1637 the Pequoig Indians attacked Wethersfield killing nine settlers and kidnapping two young daughters of William Swain who were later ransomed by the Dutch.    Crops were destroyed as well as cattle and horses killed.  The native’s goal was to starve the settlers in the hopes they would abandon their settlement, Lyle said.  This event precipitated the Peqoiug war.

This discovery has extensive significance, Lyle said.  “This discovery pushes the interpretation of this Colonial and Revolutionary war site back to the 1630’s. It also brings into play the Pequoig War which will be part of our interpretation. Basically, it opens a whole new chapter for the buildings the city of Wethersfield and the state of Connecticut.”

More information on the Deane House and other historic homes in the area can be found at www.webb-deane-stevens.org


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