On February 1, 2021, in the face of below freezing temperatures and single digit windchill, Allison M. Conner, began her quest for artifacts left on the deWiit Cottage property by previous occupants. Allison is an investigator, an examiner of history and archaeologist for James River Institute for Archaeology, Inc. (JRIA). JRIA was hired by the City of Virginia Beach historic planner Mark Reed, in response to our application for a permit to build and reconstruct a gazebo that was part of the dewitt property in 1920. Because the DeWitt cottage rests on historic property, care must be taken to preserve and protect any artifacts that may exist on the property. So JRIA was sent to search the property and ensure that our construction project would not destroy any historic artifacts.
Allison worked the better part of two weeks digging 17 Shovel Test Holes (each 30 inches wide and 3.5 ft
deep), by hand, with a shovel and then she dug three additional test holes that measured 30 inches by 30 inches and three and a half to four feet deep. She was very methodical and thorough. She was quite the tenacious young lady. Allison’s work did recover some culturally significant artifacts.
The Principal Investigator for the project was JRIA Senior Researcher Matthew R. Laird, Ph.D., RPA. The archaeological fieldwork was conducted by Project Archaeologist Allison M. Conner, M.A., RPA. Dr. Laird conducted the documentary research for the project and authored the final report with contributions from Ms. Conner. The artifacts recovered in the course of testing were processed by Barry Phelps, cataloged by Sherrie Beaver, and photographed by Meghan West. JRIA was established by Nicholas M. (Nick) Luccketti, M.A. in 1986. Dr. Laird worked with him as Principal Investigator in the 90’s and has been a partner since 2002. They are a small (12 employees) cultural resource management firm based in Williamsburg, VA. They do archaeological and historic research projects for a wide variety of clients, including government agencies, municipalities (like Virginia Beach), architectural and engineering firms, developers, preservation organizations, and private landowners. They focus primarily on Virginia, but have also worked in Maryland, North Carolina, and South Carolina.