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Butler Project

Archaeology project at Butler
to uncover 1790s log house plan

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

CARROLLTON, Ky. (October 2004) – Between the Butler-Turpin House and the family burial plot at Gen. Butler State Resort Park in Carrollton sits the remains of a circa 1790s log house. On a quiet, unpretentious knoll lie clues to the past, where many more exciting discoveries are about to be made.

Butler Turpin House

Photo by Don Ward

Site of the Butler-Turpin House

Adults interested in learning more about this 18th century site are invited to enroll in a field study project offered Oct. 9-10 and Oct. 23-24. The sessions will last from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, and from from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. The cost for this workshop is $30 per session, or $50 for enrollment in both sessions.
The site has been documented as a 1 1/2 story log house, complete with a dogtrot. The dwelling burned to the ground in the 1860s, said Evelyn Welch, curator of the Butler-Turpin House.
The log house was originally used as the home and office of Kentucky’s first Adjutant General, Percival Pierce Butler, when he first came to the area from Pennsylvania. Kentucky’s first governor, Isaac Shelby, appointed him Adjutant General. The house was in use by Butler, a Revolutionary War Soldier-Officer, for 24 years.
Welch said the house is a wonderful example “of a log home of this river region in Kentucky.” These workshops are “a living history approach to reconstructing the house,” she said.
A similar project was conducted in 1995. That dig was led by Jeannine Kreinbrink, Principle Investigator-Senior Archeologist with Natural and Ethical Environmental Solutions LLC in West Chester, Ohio. Kreinbrink has taught archeology part-time at Northern Kentucky University since 1998.
Kreinbrink, originally from Boone County, Ky., has been a professional archaeologist since 1986. “It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do,” she said.
In addition to the two adult workshops, Kreinbrink will also conduct a student field study project on Oct. 4-7. Carroll County eighth-grade students will get the chance to participate with a professional in uncovering the past. Kreinbrink said students are generally interested in such a study project when they find artifacts.
Her goal is to “make students aware that history is real.” They get excited about it if they can touch, see and smell it. Kreinbrink also stresses the concept of using teamwork to research a goal.
“Archeology is multidisciplinary,” said Kreinbrink. Different skills, such as researching techniques, are employed. It’s important to get students involved at a young age so that this interest may stay with them on some level the older they get, she said.
Carroll County High School students assisted with the 1995 project at Gen. Butler. They uncovered a 6x8-foot stone hearth, which established one outside footprint, said Welch. She hopes enough information will be unearthed to mark the original floor plan of the log house.
This dig is part of an ongoing project that will continue in phases, said Welch. A future goal is to reconstruct the log house and its stone foundation using original materials and methods. At each stage adult and student workshops will be held.
Information gleaned from this project will be stored at the Butler-Turpin State Historic House for future exhibit. A report will be produced and kept on file by the Kentucky State Parks system. A grant from North American Stainless was given to assist with this educational opportunity.
For the last three summers, Kreinbrink has worked with high school students at Big Bone Lick State Park. She is currently working on a public project at Ft. Wright, Ky., a Civil War fortification site in Kenton County. Kreinbrink also conducts many student workshops at the Berringer-Crawford Museum in Covington, Ky.

• For more information or to register for the workshops, contact Welch at (502) 732-4384, ext. 2415, or mail checks payable to: Butler-Turpin State Historic House, Gen. Butler State Resort Park, Attn.: Evelyn Welch, P.O. Box 325, Carrollton, KY 41008.

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