Dig gives anthropologists, students a look into 1870s Nicodemus

NICODEMUS, Kan. | Bit by bit — sometimes literally — A 16-day dig gave amateur anthropologists a look into the 1870s and life in the first post-Civil War settlement founded by and for blacks.

One day, the dig in early June turned up pottery fragments.

“It was crushed up,” said Sharon Sage, of Auburn, who was documenting the dig for the Kansas Anthropological Association. “They think it was an earthenware bowl. They think the pieces they’ve dug up can be refit.”

By the end of the dig, there was more.

The digging and sifting turned up the stone walls of a dugout home, along with the door frame of a root cellar. Artifacts included a metal butter knife, glass bottles, metal and shell buttons, tin cans and the stand for a sewing machine, dated April 1879.

The project focused on a dugout site about 21/2 miles northwest of Nicodemus.