Parker House Freedom Dig

Parker House Freedom Dig

The Cincinnati Museum is offering a unique historical archaeology experience we wanted to share with you.

Have you ever wanted to participate in a real archaeology excavation? Cincinnati Museum Center presents the Freedom Dig, a series of four weeklong sessions at the John P. Parker House in Ripley, Ohio. Join us for a week or longer and experience the thrill of uncovering artifacts and features from this National Historic Landmark along the Ohio River.
John P. Parker, born into slavery in 1827, purchased his freedom through apprenticeship at an iron foundry in Mobile, Alabama. Moving north, he settled in Cincinnati and then Ripley in the 1840s where he established his own iron foundry. One of the most successful conductors on the Underground Railroad, Parker molded iron during the day and rescued hundreds of slaves from Kentucky after dark. For more than a decade prior to the Civil War, Parker continuously put his life and liberty in jeopardy through his Underground Railroad activities. And, for half a century, he operated his successful Phoenix Foundry along Ripleys riverfront.

During preliminary excavations in 1998 and 2000, Cincinnati Museum Center archaeologists explored both domestic and industrial portions of the John P. Parker House site. Those investigations revealed that domestic deposits, associated with Parker and his family, and industrial remnants were intact below areas of shallow fill and asphalt. Parkers foundry, which was attached to the house, suffered a severe fire in 1889, but fortunately no subsequent development occurred on the lot. As a result, foundry foundations, floors and waste deposits remain where they were abandoned nearly 120 years ago.
The Freedom Dig will run for four consecutive one-week sessions beginning on July 9, 2007. Dig members will attend brief classes in the history and archaeology of Parker and the site; participate in excavations and laboratory work at the John P. Parker House; and join in tours of Ripley-area Underground Railroad and abolitionist sites. Robert Genheimer, George Rieveschl Curator of Archaeology at Cincinnati Museum Center will supervise the Freedom Dig.

Both domestic and industrial areas of the John P. Parker House will be investigated during the excavations. Units will be placed near the house to identify 19th century artifact middens and to further expose a unique cast iron walk leading from the house to Front Street. Industrial units will be placed to expose the working floor of the cupola furnace, the heart of the foundry.

Participants may enroll for any or all of the one-week sessions. A modest program fee will be charged with a discount offered to Museum Center members. Participants are responsible for travel to and from Ripley, although transportation will be available from Cincinnati Museum Center each morning. A box lunch will be provided each day. The dig is an outdoor activity in July, so participants should be able to perform moderate physical tasks in a hot and humid climate.

We look forward to seeing you in Ripley!

Ripley is a beautiful Ohio River town approximately 75 miles from Cincinnati. Founded in 1812, Ripley became a vital port on the Ohio River and was second only to Cincinnati as a shipping point for the pork industry. Prior to the Civil War, Ripley was known in Kentucky as the abolitionist hellhole because of the large number of active Abolitionists. Parker was often aided in his slave rescues by the Rev. John Rankin, a staunch Abolitionist and author of Letters on American Slavery. Ripley also became an early center for the Burley tobacco industry, and today remains the site of Ohios only tobacco market.

Session Dates
Session 1: July 16 July 20
Session 2: July 23 July 27
Session 3: July 30 August 3

Museum members: $315 per session
Non-members: $350 per session
Fees include all instruction, materials, transportation from Museum Center and daily box lunch.

Registration is limited to 10 participants per weeklong session. A full registration packet and medical release form will be mailed upon request. A $100 per person non-refundable* deposit is required, together with a completed registration form and signed medical waivers to secure your reservation. Deadline for reservations is June 27, 2007.

*If the Freedom Dig is cancelled by Museum Center for any reason, full fees including deposits will be refunded.

Payment Schedule
The remainder of your balance is due by July 6, 2007. Refunds of any remaining balance, minus the deposit, will be made until this date. After July 6, 2007, no refunds of the remaining balance will be made.

Instructions and Questions
Registered or interested participants can contact either Robert Genheimer at (513) 455-7161 or the Museums Information & Reservations department at (513) 287-7021 or 1-800-733-2077 x 7021. Participants may travel to the Parker House on their own, or join us for free transportation from Museum Center leaving each morning at 8 a.m. Participants will return to Museum Center each evening at approximately 5:30 p.m.

Please do not hesitate to call the Museum’s Information & Reservation office at (513) 287-7021 or 1-800-733-2077 x 7021.

Posted July 2, 2007
Topics: Archaeology

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