Category Archives: U.S.A

‘Extraordinary archaeological find’: Last known US slave ship found in Alabama

‘Extraordinary archaeological find’: Last known US slave ship found in Alabama

'Extraordinary archaeological find': Last known US slave ship found in Alabama
It was torched and then sunk to the bottom of a river, but historians say they have now identified the remains of the last ship to carry slaves to the U.S.

The last U.S. slave ship, the Clotilda, was finally located at the bottom of the Mobile River in Alabama after a lot of searching.

The announcement comes one year after the release of the lost interview with a survivor of that ship by Zora Neale Hurston, and only a month after a scholar discovered that the last survivor of Clotilda lived until 1937.

It holds special significance for the residents of Africatown, Alabama, many of whom are descended from the Africans illegally trafficked on the Clotilda in 1860.

“It’s a wonderful discovery,” says Sylviane A. Diouf, a visiting scholar at Brown University’s Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice and author of Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Slave Ship Clotilda and the Story of the Last Africans Brought to America.

“This is the only one so far that has been found which came directly from Africa to the Americas with people on board.” (The recently-discovered São José was on its way to Brazil but crashed in South Africa near Cape Town.)

The discovery is also significant because the Clotilda is already the most well-documented slave ship story in the Americas. “If it had only been a ship without the story, then that’s interesting,” Diouf says. “But we have the entire story.

So this is the first time that we have the entire story of what happened to the people who were on the ship and we have the ship as well.”The research initiative that found the Clotilda was partly motivated by the discovery of another ship in January 2018 that some thought might have been the Clotlida.

Afterward, the Alabama Historical Commission funded further efforts to find the Clotilda, which a slave trader had burned and then sunk to the bottom of the river to hide the evidence of its illegal journey.

Excavators ended up combing through a section of the Mobile River that had never been dredged before. Among the many sunken ships there, they found one that historians could confidently say matched the description of the Clotilda.

On January 2, 2018, in Mobile County, Alabama, remains of a ship were found that were originally believed to be the Clotilda, the last documented slave ship to have delivered captive Africans to the United States.

The more than 100 African children, teenagers and young adults on the Clotilda arrived in Alabama just one year before the Civil War.

When the U.S. officially abolished slavery in 1865, these young people had no means to travel back home, so some created a community called “African Town” in Alabama. The town helped preserve the stories of these people, some of whom carried their memories of capture and enslavement into the 20th century.

Unlike most slave ship survivors in history who remained largely undocumented, we have pictures and interviews of people who came over on the Clotilda. We even have film footage of the last known survivor, a woman born with the name “Redoshi” who went by “Sally Smith.”

When Zora Neale Hurston interviewed Cudjo Lewis, a founding member of African Town in the 1920s and ‘30s, he could still remember the disorienting trauma of being captured and enslaved at age 19.

“We doan know why we be bring ’way from our country to work lak dis,” said Lewis, originally named “Kossula.” “Everybody lookee at us strange. We want to talk wid de udder colored folkses but dey doan know whut we say.”

It’s not clear what will happen to the Clotilda’s remains, but residents of Africatown hope to highlight it in a way that draws tourism and business.

Africatown is home to a low-income community that has survived Hurricane Katrina and dangerous levels of industrial pollution, including from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

One option is to create a water memorial that people can visit, like the one commemorating the U.S.S. Arizona in Pearl Harbor.“As a symbol, I think it’s crucial,” Diouf says of the discovery. “And I think for Africatown today, which is really a community that is struggling very much, it really puts Africatown on the map. And hopefully some good will come out of it.”

Source: usatoday

Toppled Trees in Florida Reveal 19th-Century Fort where 270 escaped slaves died

Toppled Trees in Florida Reveal 19th-Century Fort where 270 escaped slaves died

A post overlooking the Apalachicola River, 200 years ago, housed what historians say was North America’s largest community of freed slaves at the time.

Hurricane Michael has given archaeologists an unprecedented opportunity to study its story, a significant tale of black resistance that ended in bloodshed. The site, also known as Fort Gadsden, is about 70 miles southwest of Tallahassee in the Apalachicola National Forest near the hamlet of Sumatra.

Volunteer Marilyn Spores digs for artifacts in the roots of a fallen tree as the U.S. Forest Service studies the land where the Negro Fort stood at Prospect Bluff in the Apalachicola National Forest Wednesday, April 17, 2019.
Volunteer Marilyn Spores digs for artifacts in the roots of a fallen tree as the U.S. Forest Service studies the land where the Negro Fort stood at Prospect Bluff in the Apalachicola National Forest Wednesday, April 17, 2019. 

British lived at Prospect Bluff with allied escaped slaves, called Maroons, who joined the British military in exchange for freedom, along with Seminole, Creek, Miccosukee, and Choctaw tribe members.

The Negro Fort, which was built on the site by the British during the War of 1812, became a haven for escaped slaves. Inside, 300 barrels of gunpowder were stored, and defended by both women and men. Wary of the group of armed former slaves in Spanish Florida living so close to the United States border, U.S. soldiers began to attack.

On July 27, 1816, U.S. forces led by Colonel Duncan Clinch ventured down the river and fired a single shot at the fort’s magazine. It exploded, killing 270 escaped slaves and tribes people who were inside. Those who survived were forced back into slavery.

Local historian Dale Cox talks about the history of the Negro Fort that stood at Prospect Bluff in the Apalachicola National Forest Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Local historian Dale Cox talks about the history of the Negro Fort that stood at Prospect Bluff in the Apalachicola National Forest Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Managed by the U.S. Forest Service, which purchased it in the 1940s, the site has been preserved as a National Historic Landmark and park. Because of that, it was never excavated for artifacts, except in 1963 by Florida State University, mainly to identify structural remains.“It’s a really intriguing story. There’s so much new ground there that historians of the past never really got into,” said Dale Cox, a Jackson County-based historian.

In an ironic way, Hurricane Michael has changed that — an isolated upside of the devastating storm. The October Category 5 hurricane caused extensive damage to the site, toppling about 100 trees.

Most of the debris has been cleared, but under the remaining massive roots, archaeologists began this month to dig and sift through the soil, uncovering small artifacts and documenting archaeological features revealed by the upturned trees.

The effort is funded by a $15,000 grant awarded from the National Park Service and is in partnership with the Southeast Archaeological Center.”The easy, low-hanging fruit is European trade ware that dates to that time period.

But when you have ceramics that were made by the locals, it’s even more unique and special,” said U.S. Forest Service Archaeologist Rhonda Kimbrough. “For one thing, there’s not much of it, and we don’t have a whole lot of historical records other than the European view from what life in these Maroon communities was like.”

So far, Kimbrough and others have found bits of Seminole ceramics, shards of British black glass and gun flint and pipe smoking fragments. They’ve also located the area of a field oven, a large circular ditch that surrounds a fire pit.

The British flag flies over the location of the Negro Fort that stood at Prospect Bluff in the Apalachicola National Forest Wednesday, April 17, 2019.
The British flag flies over the location of the Negro Fort that stood at Prospect Bluff in the Apalachicola National Forest Wednesday, April 17, 2019.

The fort was recently inducted into the National Park Service’s Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.”It’s like connecting the sites, pearls on a string,” said Kimbrough, “because these sites, even though they’re spread all over the place, they’re connected by one thing, which is resistance to slavery.”

Historian Cox has been tracking down the former slaves who died at the fort and the descendants of the few who made it out alive, like Polydore, who escaped and was recaptured to work for Andrew Jackson. Cox found his descendants who now live in Louisiana.

Miniature figurines depicting Fort Gadsden created by William Greer were exhibited at the Fort Gadsden new museum in Sumatra.
Miniature figurines depicting Fort Gadsden created by William Greer were exhibited at the Fort Gadsden new museum in Sumatra.

It’s been a slow process of sifting through Census records, which are private for 72 years before release, international archives of Great Britain as well as Spanish archives in Cuba. But Cox is on a quest to name as many as possible.

The people who lived in the Maroon community were very skilled, he said. Many were masons, woodworkers, farmers. They tended the surrounding melon and squash fields, but little is known precisely about their day-to-day lives.

The area has always been ideal for settling, given its higher elevation and clearings amid the river’s mostly swampy perimeter, said Andrea Repp, a U.S. Forest Service archaeologist. Prior to European occupation, the site was sacred to natives and was named Achackweithle, which resembles the words for “standing view” in Creek, according to the Florida Geological Survey. Matthew Shack, a Panama City historian, praised the archaeological effort.

Key persons responsible for research and development of the model of Fort Gadsden now on display at the new museum are shown looking at the finished replica. Standing, left to right, are Patrick Elliot, museum artist; Eddie Nesmith of Apalachicola, retired park supt. At the historic site; Jesse Fairley Jr., museum preparatory; and William Greer of Eastpoint, military miniature figure designer.
Key persons responsible for research and development of the model of Fort Gadsden now on display at the new museum are shown looking at the finished replica. Standing, left to right, are Patrick Elliot, museum artist; Eddie Nesmith of Apalachicola, retired park supt. At the historic site; Jesse Fairley Jr., museum preparatory; and William Greer of Eastpoint, military miniature figure designer.

Shack, 76, is a descendant of Maroons. His great great grandfather escaped a North Carolina plantation, married a part-Native American woman and settled in Marianna. He remembers his grandmother’s stories about the Prospect Bluff community.

“I remember her telling us about the ‘Colored Fort’ and all the colored folk who died,” he said. “A lot of black history wasn’t taught. A lot of our history is lost, and some of it we won’t get back. I’m glad that there’s a renewed interest in capturing the history that I thought was lost.”

A Viking-inspired Scandinavian beer hall is coming to Ballard

Huge Traditional Viking Mead Hall Opens in Seattle – Packed with Old Nordic Lore

Over the mantlepiece is a worn wooden sculpture of an unnamed Viking man, complete with a horned helmet. One wall made entirely of red brick creates a stark contrast to the dark gray paint that coats the rest.

Long wooden floorboards span the entire space, and authentic wooden barrels are used cleverly as tables for empty glasses.

The door to the restroom features a wooden axe handle, wedged into the door’s wood. Across the place, decorative touches — animal horns, stretched pelt mounted on walls, and a variety of period armament and weaponry — tie together the ancient Scandinavian aesthetic.

Walking into the pub, it’s not hard to feel like a Viking warrior, seeking refuge in a mead hall for refreshments with comrades.

The authentic Viking-inspired 2,500 square foot bar and restaurant is known to locals as Skål Beer Hall.

This highly-awaited establishment in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood serves Nordic pub grub, and boasts the most diverse aquavit and mead selection in the area. Of course, much like many of the other bars in Ballard, Skål (meaning “cheers!”) also promises a variety of beers on tap.

According to an interview with the Seattle Times, owner Adam McQueen imports over a quarter of his beer selection straight from Scandinavia. Bar-goers can expect a range of malt-heavy lagers that really reflect the kind of stuff one might have found in a Viking mead hall.

As of writing, the food selection is still a work in progress. But McQueen does intend to incorporate savory Scandinavian goodness.

Lammkorv and Fenalår are just two of many traditional dishes the owner is planning to serve. But of course, his kitchen is still trying to perfect the recipes to guarantee customer satisfaction.

Lexi, head chef and business partner at Skåg, plans to update many of the Nordic dishes on the menu to make them less intimidating. But what diners can expect the duo to maintain is the meat — lots and lots and LOTS of meat.

What won’t need any further changes is the interior. Complete with Norse art and decor, McQueen had to set aside quite a budget to get the space to look like an authentic Viking mead hall.

The Space was previously occupied by The People’s Pub which had pretty much the same aesthetic as a lot of the other bars on the Seattle scene.

McQueen didn’t spare any detail with the renovations, knocking down several walls and raising the ceilings 13 feet to achieve that realistic Viking hall feels.

The decor similarly needed some thorough thought in order to convey the Viking ambiance he has created.

Large blocks of chunky wood furniture, rustic decor, and animal fur, horns, and bones litter the expansive bar, so it really feels like walking into a Viking general’s living room.

To top it all off, drinks will be served in decorative mugs and glasses as well, like Viking ale horns, making the experience even more interesting and unique.

Of course, McQueen did a lot more than just invest in his chosen design. The owner said in an interview with SeattleMet that he had to do quite a bit of research to find out what people in the area wanted to see and experience when it came to resto-bars.

And that’s how he came to incorporate a family area into his establishment. An all-age dining area is available in the bar until 8 pm in order to compete with the other establishments in the area that are often kid and family friendly, or as McQueen described it in his interview with the Seattle Times, “kid tolerant.”

Possible Seventeenth-Century Massacre Site Found in Alaska

Angry Alaskans burned a village to the ground and executed 28 inhabitants by tying them up and knifing them in the head ‘in a feud over a darts game’ in the mid 17th Century

Possible Seventeenth-Century Massacre Site Found in Alaska
Archaeologists in an Alaskan village called Agaligmiut found the remains of 28 bodies and 60,000 artifacts, revealing evidence of a legendary massacre.

Archeologists have uncovered in Alaska a 350-year-old massacre that took place during a war that might have started over a game of dart. The discovery reveals the gruesome ways in which people were executed in a city and confirms part of a legend passed down by the Yup’ik people over the centuries.

A recent excavation in the town of Agaligmiut (which today is often called Nunalleq) has uncovered the remains of 28 peoples who died during the massacre and 60,000 well-preserved artifacts.

Agaligmiut had a large interconnected complex designed to facilitate defense, said Rick Knecht and Charlotta Hillerdal, both archeology lecturers at Aberdeen University in Scotland who lead the site excavation team.

“We found that it had been burned down and the top was riddled with arrow points,” Knecht told Live Science. Some of the 28 people found “had been tied up with grass rope and executed,” said Knecht, adding that “they were face down and some of them had holes in the back of their skulls from [what] looks like a spear or an arrow.”

When exactly the massacre occurred is not certain, though Knecht said the complex was constructed sometime between A.D. 1590 and 1630. It was destroyed by an attack and fire sometime between 1652 and 1677, he added.

The start of war?

The massacre occurred during what historians called the “bow and arrow wars,” a series of conflicts in Alaska during the 17th century. According to one Yup’ik legend, the conflict started during a game of darts when one boy accidently hit another in the eye with a dart.

The father of the injured boy knocked out both eyes of the boy who caused the injury, the story goes. Then, a relative of the boy who had both eyes knocked out retaliated, the conflict escalating as other family members of the two boys got involved.

The dart-game melee eventually resulted in a series of wars across Alaska and the Yukon.”There’s a number of different tales,” Knecht said, adding that “what we do know is that the bow and arrow wars were during a period of time [called] the little ice age, where it went from quite a bit warmer than it is now to quite a bit colder in a very short period of time.” The colder weather may have caused a food shortage that could have triggered the conflict, Knecht said.

Massacre at Agaligmiut

Stories passed down over the centuries tell how the people of Agaligmiut, led by a man called Pillugtuq, put together a war party and went to attack another village that went by various names, including Pengurmiut and Qinarmiut.

The people of this other village had prior warning of the war party, and they ambushed the fighters, killing or scattering all their warriors.

There are a number of stories about the ambush. In one story, women from the other village dressed up to look like men and participated in the ambush, using bows and arrows to attack the war party. Another story says that, shortly before the war party left Agaligmiut, a shaman warned Pillugtuq that Agaligmiut would be reduced to ashes, a warning that Pillugtuq ignored.

After the ambush, warriors from the other village proceeded to Agaligmiut, killed its inhabitants and burned Agaligmiut down. Since most of the men of fighting age were with the war party that had been ambushed, the slaughter consisted of mostly women, children and old men.

Archaeological discoveries confirm this, as the 28 bodies consist mostly of women, children and older men. “There was only one male of fighting age,” Knecht said.

Before the massacre

About 60,000 well-preserved artifacts tell what life was like at Agaligmiut before the massacre. The artifacts include dolls, figurines, wooden dance masks and grass baskets.

The permafrost kept the artifacts exceptionally preserved, Hillerdal said. “It’s amazing, a lot of these things could just be used today. Sometimes, we find the wood still bright and not even darkened by age,” Knecht said.

Wooden dance masks are some of the most interesting artifacts. “Oftentimes they depict a person turning into an animal or an animal turning into a person,” Knecht said.

The figurines and dolls were used for a variety of purposes, including religious rituals and as toys. A team from the 3DVisLab at the University of Dundee in Scotland has been using an Artec Space Spider scanner, which they acquired from Patrick Thorn & Co, to create highly detailed 3D scans of the artifacts.

The scans will be digitized into an education package to help students learn about the artifacts at Agaligmiut and what life was like at the site before the massacre occurred.

Research at Agaligmiut is supported by Qanirtuuq Inc., an Alaska Native Village Corporation in Quinhagak.

According to legend passed down from the Yup'ik people, indigenous Arctic people residing in Alaska, the conflict started when a boy accidentally hit another boy in the eye with a dart.
According to legend passed down from the Yup’ik people, indigenous Arctic people residing in Alaska, the conflict started when a boy accidentally hit another boy in the eye with a dart

Source: dailymail

The Hunt for the Titanic Was Actually a Hunt for Lost U.S. Nuclear Submarines

The Titanic Wreck was Discovered While Looking for Lost Nuclear Submarines

In 1985, the long-elusive shipwreck of the Titanic was found by Dr. Robert Ballard of Rhode Island University in Narragansett and the Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration in Connecticut.

At the time, he was working with Woods Hole Oceanographic Research Institution in Massachusetts. Dr. Ballard designed two underwater vessels, the Argo, capable of squeezing into tight places and sending live pictures to a monitor and the Alvin, which could take several people down to the ocean floor.

Robert Ballard (the man who found Titanic, Bismarck, USS Yorktown, and JFKs PT-109)
Robert Ballard (the man who found Titanic, Bismarck, USS Yorktown, and JFKs PT-109)

For all of the money and time spent, the discovery of the Titanic was just a side note of a much bigger mission and just happened to yield results. Dr. Ballard was on a secret mission to study the radioactivity of two submarines, the USS Scorpion, sunk in 1968, and the USS Thresher, sunk in 1963 during the Cold War.

The Scorpion was carrying nuclear weapons, and both ships had a nuclear reactor. To keep the mission secret, the US Navy and Dr. Ballard claimed he was looking for the Titanic.

USS scorpion (SSN-589)

The true details of the mission were not released until 2017, and, as it turns out, the Titanic was fairly close to the two submarines. When Dr. Ballard — a Navy veteran — received his orders, he was told that the submarines were of paramount importance and that if there was time after studying the subs for radioactive leakage, he could look for the Titanic. They never expected him to find it, and the subsequent publicity became a major headache for the Navy.

According to military.com, the USS Scorpion was a Skipjack-class nuclear submarine home based in Norfolk, Virginia. She was on a classified mission to track Russian submarines in the Mediterranean Sea and left Virginia in October of 1967. In May 1968, the Scorpion left Spain for home and was due in port on May 27th.

U.S. Navy photo of the bow section of Scorpion taken by the crew of Trieste II, 1968
U.S. Navy photo of the bow section of Scorpion taken by the crew of Trieste II, 1968

When the sub had not arrived several hours after its scheduled time, the Navy launched a search. On June 5th, it was announced that the Scorpion and its crew of 99 were presumed lost.

The Navy has never been able to say for sure what caused the Scorpion to sink, but, due to Dr. Ballard’s photos, it is believed that an accidental torpedo explosion was the cause.

With no definitive proof, many have made up their own answers such as a Russian attack and a Navy coverup. The Navy refused the request made by the U.S. Submarine Veterans in November 2012 to reopen the case.

The wreck is located about 400 nautical miles from the Azores.USS Thresher was performing deep-diving tests off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts on April 10, 1963, when it sank, losing 129 men. She left Portsmouth on April 9th and proceeded to do test trials accompanied by the rescue ship USS Skylark. Several different tests were performed with the sub staying submerged overnight.

The next day, the sub reestablished communications with the Skylark and began even deeper dives. As she approached the test limit, Skylark received two jumbled messages and then nothing.

USS Thresher (SSN-593) underway, April 30, 1961

The Navy sent ships to search for the missing sub but by April 11th the Thresher was declared lost with all hands. The search continued underwater, however, and the wreck was discovered, according to military.com, showing that the Thresher had imploded and spread debris over 35 acres.

Expeditions to the wreck site in June and August took pictures, and an inquiry, aided by the 1963 photographs and Dr. Ballard’s photographs, determined the reactor had shut down causing the sub to sink and implode at about 2,000 feet under the water. The Navy determined that a high-pressure pipe which provided the nuclear reactor with cooling water had blown.

The search for the two submarines aided Dr. Ballard in finding the Titanic as he learned not to look for parts of the ship but to find the trail of debris which would lead to the ship. Using this technique led Dr. Ballard to find dishes, leather goods, and fixtures which led to the giant boilers and then to the two parts of the broken ship lying on the ocean floor.

Dr. Ballard and his teams have also discovered the remains of the German battleship Bismarck; second world war ship USS Independence and submarine USS Bugara, as well as several other ships. It was also their work that first confirmed the existence of hydrothermal vents in the ocean.

According to National Geographic, when asked if he will be performing more missions for the Navy, Dr. Ballard remarked, “The Cold War is over, I’m no longer in the Navy”– but who knows for sure?