Stories in the dirt: Finding Granby

CAYCE, SC (WIS) - People using the Riverwalk in Cayce may notice people digging under a tent on Riverland Drive near the police substation at the end of the path.

They are looking for what's left of a lost community known as Granby dating back nearly 200 years.

"We're hoping to find scientific proof that this is Granby," Project Manager David Brinkman said. "We're pretty sure the location. Historians over the years thought this was the area but nobody could say for sure."

After two years of digging 65 pits along the street, Brinkman and his team of volunteers and amateur archaeologists and historians have found about 10,000 artifacts dating to the period of the Granby settlement.

"Granby itself was the first developed town in the area," he said. "That's our main goal is to bring back this forgotten history which is very important to the area."

"This is the head of navigation," project historian Dean Hunt said. "So this was as far as a boat could get from the coast, so it's a natural place to stop."

The community sat at the junction of an Indian trail, the old State Road, and Friday's Ferry, a major crossing of the Congaree River.

"History happened here," Hunt said.

"In the three miles around us you have colonial forts, a colonial town, Saxe Gotha colonial town, trade development from different areas," he said. "Even had a civil war battle here."

Brinkman is digging for Granby in his own yard.

"A local surveyor had found what was believed to be remnants of Friday's Ferry and I'd been researching Friday's Ferry on another project, so I got excited," he said. "My wife and I came out here and here was this foreclosed property just maybe 400 feet from this very site."

"It's a big responsibility because people are like, every question that they ask, 'Where are you gonna' put all this stuff?' Because we have tens of thousands of stuff from ceramics to glass to pottery," said Brinkman's wife, Odess.

Brinkman and the team have been posting their discoveries on the Finding Granby web site.  At first he reached out to researchers and academic archaeologists, who didn't have time or money for the project. Brinkman's team and the volunteers have been doing all the work.

"We can dig down one, two, three feet and recover these relics that date back to the time period that this area was occupied is fascinating to me," archaeologist D.C. Locke said. He's been working on the dig for two years.

The community consisted of about 200 homes. Fragments of window glass and European china suggest some residents were wealthy.

"I think about then vs. now and how much more difficult it might have been for their lives and lifestyles," Locke said. "They were hardy, tough people."

If you are considering digging holes in the neighborhood to find your own artifacts, don't bother. Brinkman said the relics they found are common, mundane or in pieces.

To contact Brinkman to volunteer, click here.

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