January 26, 2020

Archeological Survey at 140 N. Granite St.

In 1994, 16 people from the Yavapai Chapter of the Arizona Archeological Society spent over 400 hours investigating the lot at 140 North Granite St.

“The team of dust-caked investigators found building foundations and artifacts seven feet below street level,” the Courier reported. Although nothing particularly mysterious or unexpected was located, the excavation did offer insights into everyday life and what happened with some of the tons of waste material from the Great Fire of 1900.

This and other lots that backed up to Granite Creek “sloped drastically down” to the waterway and were perennially prone to flooding. “After the fire,” the paper described, “they built (a) retaining wall in back to retain the creek.” To level the lots in the area, fill from the debris of the Great Fire was used. 

“The rubble on top was full of bricks and badly burnt wood,” the study found. These bricks were different tones of red and reddish-orange, had no identifying marks, and were not counted among the 1400 artifacts that were documented.

The majority of this fill from the fire was removed by the archeologists with a backhoe. Still, some interesting artifacts were found in this fill. Spikes, nuts and bolts, wired nails and metal straps were located both in the fill and “Level 2” underneath it. Also found amongst the fire debris were “fragments of ceramics, stoneware, or porcelain…including one intact saucer,” the study reported.

Thousands of nails would be uncovered. Square nails, used before 1870, were the most prevalent. Of the 644 recovered whole and fragmented square nails, “the majority, 431, were found in Level 2,” where “burned but intact posts were located. This suggested that a structure, built before wired nails were in common use in 1870 burned in the 1900 fire,” the study declared.

The crew relied heavily and successfully on Sanborn Fire maps to locate foundations of previous structures. “The 1890 Sanborn map shows a good-sized structure built close to the street, and two outbuildings built at the back of the lot, near Granite Creek,” the study disclosed. “The 1895 Sanborn map shows the same structure close to the street, but with two connecting smaller structures on the south side of the property.”

Chapter 2 of Giants being found in Yavapai county, Arizona: True story of a skeleton of a giant unearthed by a road crew in 1913 along Sycamore Creek.

After the fire, “the Prescott map of August 1901…shows a structure set further back from the street, consisting of a main house with two connecting back rooms. Two more adjoining structures abut the back retaining walls. The two buildings on the south side of the property, shown in the 1895 Sanborn map, are absent. Maps from 1910 show no change in structures,” the study reported.

This, along with other historical research, revealed that the lot went through a parade of  primarily simple home owners. However, after the fire in 1901 a new building was built, and on March 12, 1914 it was purchased “by Jacob Tull, trustee for Thumb Butte lodge #14 of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and the Yavapai chapter #56, O.E.S. (African American members). It…may have been used as a private residence as well as a lodge,” the study thought.

“In general, African-Americans in Prescott lived on South Granite, although Jacob Tull listed his residence as 144 N. Granite in the 1917 city directory,” the study said. “Frank Young, one of the first African-Americans in Prescott in 1904 lived at 124 North Granite for many years. No listing for Masonic or OES lodges were found in the Prescott directory or phonebook for that era, but few had phones, and only those that choose to were listed in the directory.” 

“The buildings from 1901 presumably remained intact until Claude Nash Sr. built a new house on the site. This (was) the house that was demolished in 1994 (that cleared the way for the excavation.) Little is known about the residents who used the house from about 1920 to 1994,” the study found.  

Although not the actual bottle located
at the site, they were mass-produced.
Many glass artifacts were unearthed dating from 1870-1930 with the majority coming from the  20th century. “Only 20 intact bottles were found,” the study disclosed, with “9 liquor bottles, 4 medicinal bottles, and 7 unidentified bottles. One of these was an empty bottle of Dr. J Hostetter's Stomach Bitters. 

418 fragments of clear or colored glass were found. "Of these, there were 84 liquor bottle fragments (mostly beer,) 90 medicinal bottle fragments (primarily patent medicines,) 45 condiment containers, 30 jar fragments, 8 fragments of window glass, 1 intact glass syringe (sans needle,) and fewer than 20 decorative or stemware items. The remainder was not identified.” 

136 bone fragments were found, most being from animals that were commonly eaten. Beef, deer, pronghorn, rabbit, and fowl (probably turkey) were identified. “Evidence was also present of rodent activity, particularly of chewing on the ends of some of the bones,” the study observed. Other items from the kitchen included: “two spoons, one fork, one saucer, one cup, and a cast iron stove leg.” 

Clothing artifacts included 21 buttons and portions of a woman’s shoe with a “granny-boot heel.” 

The men of the house left behind a pick, hammer, bullnose cutter, a shovel head, metal strapping, and 2 bullet casings.

It became clear that children grew up here when several marbles, a portion of a metal toy soldier, a fragment of a tiny tea pot, and a child’s shoe were unearthed. “One of the most intriguing finds was a ceramic doll’s face, features intact,” the paper declared.

The study concluded that this area of downtown was probably included in the conflagration of 1900. There was little evidence of the lot being used for commercial purposes nor as a brothel. Although the lot was probably used mostly as a mundane residence, insights of typical life and how Granite Creek was tamed in that area provided valuable, historic lessons.

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“Granite Street Site NA 25395 Excavation of a Historic Site in Downtown Prescott” by Steger, Charlie and Stoycheff, Judy. ©2004, Yavapai Chapter, Arizona Archeological Society. Pp. 3-5, 8, 13-15, 19-20.
“Amateurs Dig to Part of Old Prescott,” by Mary Lin. Prescott Courier, 11/6/1994, Pp. 1a, 5a.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting! I always learn something new from your articles, Drew! Best regards, Bob from WHC.