Amateur archaeologist shares local findings

By Sandy Rose Schwieterman - For the Sidney Daily News

FORT LORAMIE — Although his 7-year search for the exact location of the Fort Loramie stockade on a local farm has not yet been realized, speaker Greg Shipley, amateur archaeologist, told a group of over 300 on Sunday, at Fort Loramie Elementary School, about how he and his volunteers had turned up many other discoveries and the stories behind them.

The Fort Loramie Historical Society event also hosted about 30 private collectors showing their collections. The village is observing their Bicentennial celebration.

Shipley told the crowd of around 300 people about how the Fort Loramie stockade was one of a supply chain established by General Anthony Wayne in 1794 to supply American fortifications, including Fort Wayne, Fort Adams, and Fort Defiance.

The fort was decomissioned in 1815, after Perry took control of Lake Erie, making it unnecessary to have supplies shipped down the Ohio River and up the chain of forts that also included Fort Loramie, Fort Recovery, and Fort St. Marys.

Besides the search for the original stockade site, Shipley excavations on the Ted and Linda Fleckenstein farm have turned up everything from hundreds of uniform buttons and coins, evidence of an old general store, and a copper teakettle. With many items, Shipley had a story to tell.

Shipley said he suspects that the site of the original stockade was under the circa 1819 Englishstyle house still on the property. The house was built by James Furrow, the first person to buy the land the Fleckensteins now own.

Some of the evidence he points to that indicates the stockade is under the house include a treasure trove of objects found at the bottom of the hill behind the house, which was probably the trash dump for the stockade and subsequent occupants.

He also shared his theory as to why so many of the 600-plus military buttons found were damaged.

“Most of the buttons were a soft metal called pewter, and we saw evidence where the buttons were bent outward, as if snagged while a soldier was hauling supplies,” Shipley said. “Since a soldier could get 10 lashes for being in a disorderly uniform, they made sure to replace lost buttons at once.”

Excavations also revealed what they think is the 1769 trading post, originally owned by Louie Pierre Lorimier, a British sympathizer. Eventually, it was burned down by American militia in 1782.

Round depressions, with evidence of charring, were found in the excavations that may have been made by the foundation posts of the trading post.

One of the artifacts of special interest discovered that day was a copper tea kettle, which Shipley felt is American-made since it is almost a duplicate of the ones made by silversmith Paul Revere.

Also found were many coins, although one of the most interesting was the Spanish silver dollar coin.

“Since soldiers were paid $4 per month in Spanish gold, it must have been quite a shock when he reached inside his pockets and found he had lost 25 percent of his monthly wages,” Shipley said of the supposed owner of the coins.

The discovery of artifacts on the Fleckenstein farm goes back many years. For example, another highlight of the show was a British-made pipe tomahawk, found on the Fleckenstein farm over 100 years ago and passed through many collections until recently returned to the Fleckenstein collection.

Shipley said the pipe tomahawk was a trade item.

Shipley also said evidence of human occupation goes back thousands of years, due to the location of the site near Loramie Creek and the St. Marys River. Hundreds of stone axes, ancient arrowheads, and other pre-history pieces have been found.

The 64-year-old Shipley said he has been interested in searching for artifacts since he found his first arrowhead when he was 6. Once he retired from Honda, he was able to devote more time to his passion.

To make it simpler to discover likely sites for artifacts, Shipley spent $20,000 on a Ground Penetrating Radar System. He said the expense was worthwhile.

“Contractors can charge $1,250 per day to get started on a scan, but I charge nothing,” he said.

Excavations are done in 80 x 40-foot plots, with the soil thinly peeled back and sifted through mesh to find small objects.

Shipley also said the things they find on the farm are given to the Fleckensteins once the artifacts are recorded and their location noted on a GPS map on Google Earth.

By Sandy Rose Schwieterman

For the Sidney Daily News

The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.

The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.