Archaeological Report Number
An intensive archaeological survey was conducted at the Shepard site (20CA104) in Battle Creek, Michigan from April 29 through July 12, 1996. Historical background research had indicated that the site was the location of Native American activity until the 1830s when it was settled by the town's first school teacher, Warren B. Shepard. In the early 1850s, Shepard constructed a large, brick Greek Revival house on the site that stands to this day. The house and its associated landscape have been the focus of our investigations.
Documentary evidence suggested the presence of various outbuildings and other landscape features that were typical components of a mid-19th century farmstead. The purpose of the survey was to identify and evaluate material traces of buildings and activity areas in the vicinity of the house and interpret their changes in a political economic framework. Toward this end, a team of archaeologists and geophysicists from Western Michigan University conducted a walkover survey, interviewed local residents, and employed geophysical methods followed by subsurface investigations. The purpose of this work was to locate archaeological materials that have the potential to yield information about the site occupants, pioneer history, and the changing organization of space during the transition from agriculture to industry that characterized much of late 19th-century America.
Investigations exposed artifacts and features in undisturbed contexts from the mid-19th century through the present. Although the site has experienced disturbances throughout its history and especially in the recent past, excavations have shown that there are many material deposits with contextual integrity. It is our opinion that the site is eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historical Places.
Changing artifact frequencies and spatial relationships have allowed investigators to discern several different land-use patterns that correspond with changes in site function and activities, as well as the social roles and statuses of the occupants. In short, our findings demonstrate that the archaeological record at the Shepard homelot is sensitive to transformations in the lives of the occupants; the cultural landscape is a material microcosm of broader changes that characterized American society. Further work is recommended to refine our preliminary models of spatial organization by identifying the locations of outbuildings and other 19th century refuse deposits. This should include more intensive excavation near the house, to recover a larger artifact sample for comparative purposes, as well as more extensive surveys of broader areas to identify the full range of social roles and relations that contributed to the spatial organization of the landscape during each period.