Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sean Bratton 1975-2015

The ASNJ is deeply saddened by the recent, sudden death of our friend, colleague, and  long-standing member Sean Bratton. Born July 8, 1975 in Kearny Township, and later a resident of Ocean Grove, Princeton, Jackson, and Allentown, New Jersey, Sean graduated from Kearny High School in 1993. He began his  successful career in archaeology while an undergraduate in the Department of Anthropology at New York University.  In 1999, while a student, Sean accepted a position as a Research Assistant with Richard Grubb & Associates, Inc. (RGA), in Cranbury, New Jersey, and became an active member of the society in 2000. Sean consistently demonstrated his technical skills, competency, and high level of responsibility as an archeologist, and was quickly promoted to the position of crew chief, a role in which he served for 16 years with RGA. While working for RGA, Sean conducted hundreds of archaeological surveys in New Jersey, New York,  Pennsylvania, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Ohio, and West Virginia, where he was critical in efforts to identify, evaluate, and mitigate numerous significant historic and prehistoric period archaeological sites. As a crew chief, Sean was a mentor and an exceptionally warm-hearted friend for the countless archaeologists with whom he worked. His genuine, compassionate, sociable character, humor, irreverence,  infectious smile and laughter always lightened the atmosphere, reminding those whose lives he touched that each moment of life should be enjoyed to the fullest.

Sean excavating an 18th century well in
 Monmouth County, NJ.
Sean’s passion for archaeology and desire to generously share his knowledge with others carried through to his long involvement with Brookdale Community College, Monmouth Battlefield State Park, the Battlefield Restoration and Archaeological Volunteer Organization, Monmouth University, and several salvage archaeology endeavors. In the early 2000s, Sean volunteered as a group leader, material culture analyst, and co-director for several archaeological field schools with Brookdale Community College at the Parsonage Site in Monmouth Battlefield State Park, New Jersey, which led to important new insights into the Revolutionary War Battle of Monmouth. Sean also instructed undergraduates as a group leader for Monmouth University’s archaeological  field schools between 2004 and 2011 at Merchants and Drovers Tavern in Rahway, Seabrook-Wilson House in Middletown, Abraham Staats House in South Bound Brook, Cedar Bridge Tavern in Barnegat, White Hill Mansion in Fieldsboro, and Joseph Bonaparte’s Point Breeze Estate in Bordentown, New Jersey. Sean generously volunteered countless hours for archaeologically excavating and mapping structures at Point Breeze, arguably one of New Jersey’s greatest cultural resources. Sean’s careful excavations were also critical to identifying the remains of numerous colonial earth-supported buildings in New Jersey, a resource type that had been commonly overlooked previously. Sean undeniably left a lasting, positive impact on current archaeological knowledge in New Jersey.

Here is Sean doing some of the things he loved.
These photos show the joie de vivre
that made him special to so many of us.
Sean rarely missed a society gathering, where members enjoyed his conversation and inquisitive questions. Sean was also a long-standing member of the Eastern States Archaeological Federation and the Middle Atlantic Archaeological Conference. His love for archaeology and interest in the society stemmed from his love for the outdoors, and what better way to enjoy the outdoors and meet new friends than as an archaeologist. An avid camper, hiker, fisherman, reader, and sports fan, Sean also eagerly traveled the United States, searching for the best places nature could provide, where he might enjoy quality time with a friend fishing for bass or find peace and solace contemplating life while hiking and camping. Sean will be forever missed by close friends, associates, and colleagues alike, who looked to him as a model of humanity, a person who constantly demonstrated unselfish generosity, unwavering friendship, true compassion, love, and benevolence.

Sean is survived by his aunt and uncle Pat and Diane Brannigan, cousin Patrick Brannigan, brother William Bratton, and numerous friends and colleagues. A memorial research scholarship fund and memorial service are being planned and will be announced further in upcoming issues of the newsletter and other ASNJ forums. 

*Thank you to Sean's friends and colleagues, Michael J. Gall, Ilene Grossman-Baily, Allison Gall, Ken Conrad, Tara Erdreich, Laura Chushman, and Paul George, for their photo contributions to this ASNJ post and ASNJ's most recent Newsletter. This blogpost has been copied over from our recent October 2015 Newsletter.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Dig Announcement - September 26-27

The following post is from Michael J. Gall, ASNJ Treasurer:

The ASNJ and the Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission are teaming up to conduct a two-day dig at the Piscatawaytown Burial Ground and Town Green in Edison Township, Middlesex County, New Jersey on Saturday and Sunday, September 26-27, 2015.  Rain or shine, the dig will take place between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm each day in the baseball field behind the St. James Episcopal Church (located at 2316 Woodbridge Avenue, Edison, NJ). Parking can be found behind the church and graveyard.   The archaeological survey will begin with a shovel test pit grid and may included two (2) three-foot square units.  

The town green is part of the original Piscataway settlement, dating from the 1660s and contained a town house, ammunition magazine, jail, stocks, and an early church.  We are hoping to find archaeological evidence the 17th-century buildings and evidence of militia training. We will also be working in an area near a Revolutionary War skirmish.  There will be formal tours of the 17th-century cemetery, the St. James Episcopal Church, and a discussion of the town history/archaeology between 1:00 and 4:00 pm each day.  Tours are free of charge.  We ask that if you want to participate in the excavation, that you be a current ASNJ member.  I can accommodate up to 10 volunteers each day. A sign up genius has been created for those wishing to sign up and volunteer and the link can be found here: I ask that volunteers do sign up ahead of time.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Artifact of the Month - September

This fragment of an 18th-century wine bottle seal was recovered from EU 2N during Monmouth University’s 2011 Field School at White Hill Mansion in Fieldsboro, NJ.  The seal is marked with the partial date, either 54 or 64, presumably 1754 or 1764, which coincided with Robert Field, Sr.’s ownership and occupation of the site. Seals of this nature are normally associated with individuals of wealth(White and Beaudry 2009:216) and were symbols of identity, particularly male identity (Veit and Huey 2014). 

Fragment of an 18th-century wine bottle seal
From EU 2N.
Photographer: Richard Veit; Date: April 9, 2012.

Veit, Richard and Paul R. Huey
2014       “New Bottles Made with My Crest”: Colonial Bottle Seals from Eastern North America, a Gazetteer and Interpretation.  Northeast Historical Archaeology 43:54-91.

White, C. L. and M.C. Beaudry

2009    Artifacts and Personal Identity.  In International Handbook of Historical Archaeology, ed. by Teresita Majewski and David Gaimster, pp. 209-219, Springer, New York.

"Do you have an artifact or object you'd like to submit to ASNJ's "Artifact of the Month" website posting? If so, please send a photograph, a brief description and a photo credit to, subject heading: ASNJ Artifact." - ASNJ Webmaster

Thursday, August 20, 2015

ASNJ Highlight-

Greetings! ASNJ did not receive an artifact of the month submission for August until very late in the month, ASNJ will therefore suspend posting this artifact post until September 1. Instead, ASNJ would like to take the opportunity to highlight Kiersten Fuchs, who kindly sent ASNJ a personal description about her current involvement in New Jersey's archaeological community. Please forward your own submission to ASNJ's webmaster, ASNJ wants to hear from you!
ASNJ readers,
Hello, my name is Kiersten Fuchs.

I currently hold a BA in History from Fairleigh Dickinson University and will be completing my MA in Anthropology from Monmouth University in May. For my thesis research I am looking at how the inhabitants of the Barnegat Bay (New Jersey) region, starting with the Lenape Indians, have provided the area with hertiage, culture, and a unique sense of identy. I chose this topic because I have lived with the Barnegat Bay as my backyard my entire life and often wondered how my identity was influenced by the area. My goal for this thesis is to look at the variety of people, places, and events and how they all tie into one another in giving the Jersey Shore, specifically the Barnegat Bay region, its identity, heritage, and culture. Visitors and even many locals are unaware of what has happened in the past right in their area(s) and I hope to shed light on the importance of history, anthropology, and archaeology within the region. 

Although I am focusing my thesis on a more anthropological basis, my heart lies with archaeology. Historical archaeology has been passion. I have worked with Dr. Veit on the Cedar Bridge Tavern dig in the Pine Barrens and Parker Farms in Little Silver, NJ. I have also worked on a dig in Maryland under the direction of John Dysart. 

I hope this information helps you and if there is anything more that I can provide, please do not hesitate to ask. 

Kiersten Fuchs

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

ASNJ Artifact of the Month - July

Photo Credit: Jo Grabas Sr.

This month's artifact is a jasper tear drop projectile point, recovered from Turkey Swamp State Park during Monmouth University's 2015 field school season. This is a prehistoric artifact.  The point was one of several exciting finds discovered this season. The park plans to eventually erect a display that will show several artifacts recovered from the park. Field school instructors and staff will analyze the data collected during the season over the next year. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

ASNJ Volunteers- Dig on Saturday!

ASNJ will be digging with Monmouth University fieldschool students on Saturday at Turkey Swamp State Park in Freehold, New Jersey. Please read the following:
Professors: Richard Veit and Sean McHugh
Location: Turkey Swamp
Project Description: Monmouth University's 2015 archaeological field school will be held at one of the Northeast's preeminent archaeological sites, Turkey Swamp, in Freehold, Monmouth County, New Jersey. Previous excavations at the site unearthed artifacts covering the entire span of prehistoric occupation in the eastern United States from the Paleo-Indian through the Contact Period. Our work will focus on re-identifying the site of earlier excavations and exploring several new sites within the park. Students will learn archaeological field and lab methods and be introduced to current debates on regional prehistory through lectures and activities.
All ASNJ members are invited to attend. Due to insurance reasons, members must have an active ASNJ membership (meaning that you have renewed or recently joined us). If you are not a member of ASNJ or you have allowed your membership to expire, you can not dig. Interested members are asked to meet the MU fieldschool staff and students on Saturday morning at 9AM at the soccer field parking lot. Directions to the parking lot can be found here. Please bring plenty of water, sunscreen, bug/tick repellent and pack a lunch. Volunteers and students will travel from the parking lot to the site on foot through a densely wooded area with thick vegetation, please dress appropriately. Long pants, high socks, work gloves, hats and boots are best. Please be aware that there may be poison ivy on site. If you are allergic to bees, please prepare yourself accordingly. 

We hope to see you there!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Artifact of the Month- June 2015

Photo Credit: Dr. Rich Veit

Photo Credit: Dr. Rich Veit
This month’s artifact is from a local museum display, located at Historic Walnford in Crosswicks, New Jersey.  The Monmouth County Parks website has this to say about Walnford:

Picturesque after a snowfall, full of fascinating history throughout the year, any day is a great time to visit this wonderful historic site and learn more about the Waln family and the evolution of Walnford over two centuries - from an 18th century industrial village and family farm to an elegant country estate. At the heart of the Crosswicks Creek Park (1436 acres), the site showcases over 200 years of social, technological and environmental history through the Waln family.

In the nineteenth-century a German officer was traveling through the area with two other officers. They approached a creek on the property and decided to wade through to the other side.  One of the officers became separated from his horse during the crossing after his horse suddenly sank into a hole in the creek. The two eventually made their way back to shore, it was then that the officer noticed he had lost a spur during the ordeal. The boy who witnessed this event eventually grew into an old man and would later discover a spur during a construction project along the same creek.  This spur is on display at the Walnford museum along with corresponding letters which describe these first-hand accounts.

Special thanks to Dr. Rich Veit for this Artifact of the Month submission.

Do you have an artifact or object you'd like to submit to ASNJs "Artifact of the Month" website posting? If so, please send a photograph, a brief description and a photo credit to, subject heading: ASNJ Artifact.

thank you!