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’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.
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 post has been copied over from our recent October 2015 Newsletter.