Not all history can be found in books, as the last month of backyard archaeology at the Stone Saloon has shown. Knowing that our future brew barn would disturb ground inhabited by Europeans since at least the 1850s--and by Native Americans for a lot longer--we wanted to explore the site responsibly from an archaeological standpoint before construction began. Dan Pratt of Arch3, LLC led a team of volunteer archaeologists including Sigrid Arnott, Mike Justin, Steve Sabatke and Dylan Eigenberger--and ably assisted by Dan's son Mason and daughter Thea. Metal detector-extraordinaire Jim Wisler, and Civil War historian and re-enactor John Taylor, his wife Jen, son Ethan and daughter Olivia also helped with artifact recovery, as did our multi-talented architect John Yust.
Most of the finds were consistent with the site's 150+ years of residential use; but a single, tantalizing 5-cent brass beer token found five feet south of the stone structure could possibly be linked to the saloon's operation between 1857-1862. (Beer tokens were issued by many 19th century saloons and were commonly used for buying rounds.) The five privies on the site (yes, FIVE), yielded a wealth of artifacts ranging from barrel hoops, broken kerosene lampshades, broken clay pipes, patent medicine bottles, animal bones, porcelain marbles, an brown-glass inkwell, beer, soda and whiskey bottles, salt-glaze and other assorted crockery, cooking pots, dozens of small, white undergarment buttons, and (wait for it...) a lice comb. The majority of the artifacts dated between 1868-1908, when the first indoor plumbing came to the site.
The most spectacular find came from the bottom of privy #3: a brass stencil of the kind used by merchants for painting their trade name on wooden boxes or barrels. When we unfolded the crumpled, green-flaked mass of metal, it read, in bold cut-out letters: "A WALDMANN." Yes, the Stone Saloon's original owner. Tom Braun, a materials archivist at the Minnesota Historical Society, has just finished flattening and restoring the stencil, which you can bet will be prominently displayed inside the Stone Saloon.
Thanks to all who helped document and preserve the Stone Saloon's subterranean history!