The L.M. Callis House has completed its move and is nestled in its new foundation right on Main Street in the Mathews Courthouse. That task being completed I moved on to volunteer work with the Gloucester, Virginia based Fairfield Foundation whose mission focuses on Archaeology, Preservation and Education in the area. It has been a joy to work with such a dedicated group of volunteers and staff. This past summer I got to participate in my first dig in Mathews where the old Mathews Hotel was. My mentor, Tom Karow, has been patient with me as I learn the ins and out of Archaeology.
Each Tuesday we gather at the Fairfield Foundation's Center for Archaeology, Preservation and Education in Gloucester to wash artifacts, and work on the restoration of the building which is an old Texaco gas station. It is a lot of fun to get to scrape paint and slowly see the old building come back to a glorious form. This brings me to last Tuesday night a week ago. I walked in a little late, having to stop and secure some Starbucks after a long day. There on one of the artifact sorting tables was a beautiful brass plate that had been dug up at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. The brass plate was engraved "Lt. Dickson, 80th Rgt". One of the guys, I think if was Fairfield co-director Thane Harpole, off-handedly asked what I could find about Lt. Dickson. Well, nobody loves a challenge more than I do. I got home that night around 9pm and was not sleepy as I downed the aforementioned venti Starbucks, so I got on my computer and started looking for Lt. Dickson. By this time a few people had added their two cents worth on the Fairfield Foundation Facebook page about the 80th Lt. Dickson. This made my job much easier. The first step was to Google Lt. Dickson to see if there was anyone else writing about him. I stumbled across an old court case which listed Lt. James Dickson of the 80th Foot! This court case, published in 1799, was exactly what I needed so that I could go onto Ancestry.com and Findmyfamily.com and put together a profile of Lt. Dickson. I spent the next few hours doing just that. Once I built his tree on Ancestry, which is the online repository that I use to store data, I decided to look up anyone else researching the same family. I came across a woman named Janine Chadwick and sent her a email through the ancestry messenger then I went to bed. Well, by the time I got going I had heard back from Janine. Her husband was a direct descendant of James Dickson! Emails went back and forth as we connected Janine with the rest of the team including DATA Investigations Archaeologist Michele Brumfield, the one who found the artifact.
Later that same Wednesday, I was contacted by Mark St. John Erickson, a reporter for the Daily Press, a newspaper located in Newport News, Virginia. This was exciting for me as I love to talk about history with anyone! Everything had moved very quickly and Mr. Erickson had talked to the Chadwicks about their connection to the artifact and Lt. Dickson already! This was followed a few days later by Janine and Craig Chadwick driving to Virginia from their home in North Carolina to see the plate in person. My favorite thing to do is to connect people! This brings us to yesterday when the Daily Press article came out. It was fabulous! AND as if that wasn't exciting enough, it was then picked up by the associated press (AP) and was featured in newspapers across the country including the Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle. I love what I get to do every single day!
To read Mark St. John Erickson's story about the dig site, the artifacts and Lt. James Dickson. Click Here
To see photos of the plate please go to the Fairfield Foundation Facebook