"A Long Time Coming":

Archaeology and History of the Native and African American Community of Setauket

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2011 Summer Internship Program

During summer 2011, Hofstra's Center for Public Archaeology led a paid internship program for Hofstra students to contribute to the "A Long Time Coming" project. Interns worked with project staff and community members to help to construct a deeper and meaningful history of the Bethel-Christian Avenue Laurel Hill historic district by excavating at the Jacob and Hannah Hart home site and research and interviewing community members about several properties in the historic district.


Excavations at the Jacob and Hannah Hart home site

The goal of the excavation at the Jacob and Hannah Hart home site is, first, to determine the presence and integrity of archaeological remains at the site. No testing had ever been done at the site, so we do not know what the deposits will be, nor if and how the site has been impacted by recent disturbances. A historic photo of the Hart homestead (see above), shows a one and half story house with a brick chimney and a one-story rear addition, which oral testimony indicates was the kitchen. Our hope was to define the footprint or foundation and associated activity areas that would tell us about the Harts' daily lives. We also assessed the assemblage of collected materials in light of the rich cultural and historic conditions in which the Hart family lived. Here we are especially interested to document evidence of their Native and African American heritage as well as to understand how they organized their lives at a time when people of color were facing a wide array of social and economic challenges specific to the Jim Crow era.





Robert Lewis, Hart of the Morning Star Helen Sells, Rev. Gregory Leonard




Just below the surface of the ground a segment of the house's stone foundation was disocvered. This image shows the alignment of the stones, including a chimney base (center-right), set within a larger room space. It is believed this indentifes the kitchen section of the house.

We also discovered a buried brick pathway that likley served as a walkway to the house from the street.

There were also plenty of artifacts at the site, such as the hand-painted whiteware teacup on the left and

the quartzite projectile point or scraper on the right.

This artifact display shows examples of the types of material found at the site.

Note the large number of button types which may relate to Hannah Hart's work as a laundress, a fact we discovered in the 1910 census.


Community research projects

Interns also researched the history of four properties in the historic district. These included the Rev. David Eato home, the Lucy Hart Keyes and Minnie Sanford homes, the former site of teh R.W. Hawkins house, and the Irving Hart Memorial American Legion Post.

This research combined a review of historic documents such as census records, historic maps, tax and property records, military service records, historic and personal photographs, and previously collected oral histories. Interns also conducted new oral history interviews with members of the descendant community.

Hubble Edwards showing Dr. Judith Burgess and interns Ariel Flajnik and Tami Longjohn historic records at the American Legion Post.

Dr. Burgess and interns interviewing Mrs. Violet Thompson (in the hat) and Mrs. Pearl Hart


for more information: matthewsc@mail.montclair.edu or (973)655-3063