CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - For decades, historians have believed that there was only fort in Ellis Grove, Illinois at the Fort Kaskaskia Historical site that served as a fort for both French and American troops. However, the SIU Archeology department discovered that there were two separate forts last year.
There is one fort for Americans and One fort for the French. The American fort was in use from 1803 to 1806.
The most important event in the history of the American fort was a visit by the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1803 to recruit 11 soldiers for their expedition to explore the American West.
The team has continued to dig since finding the fort last year to learn more about the fort during that period and have found Civil War uniform buttons from the Lewis and Clark regiment along with other buttons from uniforms dating back to that time.
Also found were cartridge boxes for soldiers and other smaller bits of ceramics and glass wear.
The program recently received small grants from the Lewis and Clark Heritage Trail Foundation and from the Southeastern Archaeological Conference.
This funding allows the students to receive housing during the summer program and training from SIU faculty and staff.
The grants also assist in the general excavation and discovery work. The team is getting ready to host Public Archeology Day where they will have actors portraying members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and early French settlers at the dig site, along with showing the public what they are working on Saturday, June 9.
Mark Wagner, Director of the Center of Archeological Investigations at SIU, says the team does not plan to excavate the entire fort but continue with its search for artifacts and figure out a way to properly preserve the site.
Noah Gammage a senior in SIU's Anthropology program spoke about why digs like this are so important.
"You can take a history course and you can read everything, but you know history is written by the winners," Gammage said. "History is just a record of what people think is important, being able to decipher things that weren't written down, that weren't really reported on, is important for a more fleshed out a more complete view of history."