I’m Katelyn Crispino, a new intern at the Wilderness Road Regional Museum. I’ve grown to love history because of the different people that have had a large influence in my life. I remember Grandbobby, my grandpa, watching the history channel almost every time I visited, my dad reading books on Abraham Lincoln, and my mom taking me on adventures on the paths around the Manassas Battle Field. All these things influenced my decision to enter the field of history. As museum intern, I intend to write informative biweekly articles on the artifacts found in the museum.
I have become increasingly interested in the history of the New River Valley since first coming to Radford University as a history major. I’m especially interested in the nineteenth century slaves and slave owners of the region. After taking a slave history class and an archeology field study class, I’ve come to realize that the nineteenth century is what I’m most passionate about. This is the main reason I decided to do my internship at the Wilderness Road Regional Museum. The area of Newbern surrounding this museum has such a rich and interesting history extending back to the early nineteenth century. I would like to examine the artifacts found in the museum to try to learn more about the people who founded this beautiful area.
During my archeology field study class, I worked on the Reynolds Homestead in Stuart, Virginia. During this class I learned how to examine artifacts, which helped me understand the people who had once possessed them. My classmates and I uncovered a wide range of objects. We found a few nineteenth-century nails, some broken ceramics, window glass, and a piece of blue fabric. We speculated that many of these artifacts came from the detached buildings on the site, with the ceramics most likely coming from the kitchen. I’m going to use what I learned at the Reynolds Homestead on the artifacts found in the Wilderness Road Regional Museum.
Much like the archeological dig I did in Stuart, Virginia, there was a dig done at the museum in Newbern. This took place around the separate log kitchen on the museum grounds, where the slave quarters were. During this dig, they found a hole that held slave possessions—some buttons, beads, broken toys, and ceramics. Another artifact that was found was a graphite pencil, which caught my attention right away. This was a major find for the museum. It was rare for slaves to know how to read or write. Many slave owners wouldn’t allow their slaves to be so educated. Who used this pencil? Did the owners illegally teach the slaves to read and write? Did the slaves teach themselves these abilities? The graphite pencil, along with other artifacts found in the hidden slave pit, can teach us much more about the lives of the people from this period.
If you are interested in learning more about the exciting artifacts that were found during the dig or would like to simply learn more about the founding citizens of Newbern, come to the Wilderness Road Regional Museum. We are open 10:30a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Our volunteers, me included, would love to show you around.