Initial discussions with the Michigan Department of Transportation regarding archaeological survey of the proposed right of way of U.S. 31, Mattbew Road to I-94, in Berrien County, took place in May of 1979. Contractural arrangements for the project were subsequently completed between Western MHhi gan University and the Department of Transportation, with Dr. Elizabeth Garland as Principal Investigator. Start up date for the project was June 18, 1979.
All project personnel are from the Department of Anthropology, Western Michigan University. A roster follows:
- Principal Investigator: Elizabeth B. Garland, Ph.D. Professor of Anthropology
- Field Supervisor: William Mangold, graduate student
- Field Crew I: Kenneth Barr, graduate student Karel Engstrom, graduate student Thomas Drayton, graduate student Brent Gevers, graduate student
- Field Crew II: Deborah Rhead, graduate student Paul McAllister, graduate student Cheri Branch, undergraduate student Robert O'Boyle, undergraduate student
All of the students had previous archaeological field experience including both site location survey and site excavation. Among them, these 9 students had a total of 35 "seasons" of prior archaeological work, including field schools and survey/excavation projects of 4 weeks duration or longer. Five of the group had held supervisory positions in previous archaeological projects.
Both the Principal Investigator and the Field Supervisor had first hand knowledge of the archaeology of Berrien County: Garland through long acquaintance with the late Amos R. Green of Eau Claire, an outstanding avocational archaeologist; and Mangold, a life-long resident of Three Oaks, has conducted extensive site survey in southwest Berrien County (Mangold, 1978).
The project Right of Way (ROW) extends from Matthew Road in Niles Township at the southern end northward for a distance of approximately 20 miles, terminating at the junction with I-94 in Benton Township (Figure 1). The proposed ROW will cross the St. Joseph River twice, and also crosses several tributary streams, the major one being Pipestone Creek in Sodus Township.
The dominant land form in central Berrien County is the Valparaiso glacial moraine (Martin 1955). The ROW is confined to these morainic uplands except at the northerly crossing of the St. Joseph River where extensive floodplain deposits are found.
Berrien County derives lake-effect climatic amelioration which, in combination with its location in southernmost Michigan, makes it prime orchard and vineyard area (Ellis 1880). Co~mercial truck gardening is widely practiced, in addition to corn, wheat and soybean agriculture.
The European settlement of Berrien County was highly influenced by the St. Joseph River. The earliest, and currently largest, population centers are located on the river. St. Joseph and Niles were established by the French in the 17th century. During the 18th century settlers sought areas along the river also. It was not until the early 1800's that settlements arose along the shores of Lake Michigan and, later, the interior of the county.
The major area of intensive early settlement is in the Niles-Buchanan Bertrand area. Fort St. Joseph, the Carey Mission, the McCoy Mill and the Bertrand Trading Post are located in this region.
The interior traverse of Berrien County covered by this survey does not cross the areas of earliest settlement in the county. However we were cognizant of the possibility of encountering significant historic sites at the river crossings and in other areas as well.