Armed with neon dust pans, nine children crowded around two large black tub of dirt searching for buttons, coins and broken plates Saturday morning on the grounds of Historic Sandusky. Patiently, the children went through each layer of dirt to find and document artifacts just like real life archeologists.
The event was part of the archaeology For Kids program Historic Sandusky hosted to get children more interested in history and teach them about the role Lynchburg played in the Civil War as Union Headquarters during the Battle of Lynchburg and home to the Hutter family.
Diana Spangler, who works as a historical interpreter at the site which has retained over 200 years of Lynchburg history, said this is the third time Historic Sandusky has hosted the event. Originally geared toward younger children, Spangler said those as old as 12 now are invited in order to get kids more involved with the discussion.
“I love the fact that kids are interested in [history] at all,” Spangler said. “It keeps us open in the long run.”
Spangler along with Kelly Childress and Lynchburg College graduate assistant Tracy Estelus started off the morning with a documentary about the history of the property. Then Childress walked them through archaeology terms and what artifacts could be found on the property.
Finally, the children were divided into groups of four and five to dig on their “site” along with Childress and Estelus.
As they dug they documented their findings on log sheets.
Jennifer Delacruz brought her two daughters along to the dig. Delacruz said since their family homeschools, she’s always looking for hands-on activities to help her daughters learn about history.
“We’re learning about American history this year,” Delacruz said. “[Lynchburg] was such a historical point. I had no idea of any of that.”
Delacruz’s 9-year-old daughter Jasmine said she has a love for archaeology, especially when it comes to dinosaurs.
“We had to dig,” she said. “We don’t know the exact story. We just have a theory.”
It was also a chance for people in the Lynchburg College community to introduce their children to the property. The college accepted ownership of Historic Sandusky in February.
Carl Prater, a history student at Lynchburg College, brought his children 9-year-old Oscar and 7-year-old Emma to Saturday’s event. Despite their age, it wasn’t their first experience with archaeology he said, adding he’s taken them along on digs for his own classes.
“They love it,” Prater said. “They had it down to an art form.”
Prater is a strong believer in exposing kids to history at an early age. He said he feels as though it’s a dying profession, noting the lack of people who want to be historians.
“The more fun you make it and if you tap into that imagination, young minds will be drawn to it,” he said. “They need to see a future in it.”
Lynchburg College Professor of History Nichole Sanders said it was rewarding to see former students such as Spangler and Childress create a program which helps children get interested in history.
“They did such a great job,” she said. “[The program] was so well done. They were able to translate [terms] into a language children would understand. I’m very proud of them.”
Sanders brought along her 12-year-old son Jeffrey to participate in the dig. Like his mom, Jeffrey has an appreciation for history.
Being able to get in the dirt and learn about history in a hands-on way makes it more fun, Jeffrey said.
“When you’re learning about history it’s boring to sit in the classroom and just learn dates,” Jeffrey said.