For many years, local historians each had their own ideas about where the Fort in Shippensburg was located. Each had good evidence to prove their points of the locations. Two years ago, a coincidence happened, when two local men, John McCorriston and Paul Marr, both wrote papers stating their reasons why the Fort had to have been located on East Burd Street. Then they discovered each other’s work and set out together to Find the Fort!
John was the president of Shippensburg Historical Society.http://www.shippensburghistory.org/ He wrote a letter to a property owner on Burd St., Dave Ferry, asking whether the Historical Society could, well, essentially dig up his back yard. Dave became instantly interested in the project and the Hunt for the Fort was on!
That summer, they enlisted the help of an archaeologist, Stephen Warfel. Steve was a well-known archaeologist for many years and has been involved in various well-known digs, including the dig at Ft Loudon. We had the interest locally to dig and find the Fort, and Steve had the knowledge of how to do it accurately, scientifically and to not destroy any evidence in the process. A group of volunteers teamed up and digging began. Many volunteers were from Shippensburg University’s History department. And citizens young and old who were interested in being part of this process came also out in the heat to make a team that was dedicated to this dig. And they were dedicated to finding an answer to this years’ old question: Where was Fort Morris?
They dug up a large space in Dave’s back yard that summer, and many smaller test holes in the side yard. Some evidence was found to indicate there had been people there before the 1890’s, which is when modern people began to reside in that area. (Much evidence had been unknowingly destroyed in the digging to build the houses and even the street at that time at the turn of the century.) But they still weren’t sure…..more evidence needed to be found to be sure…….so another dig was planned for the next summer. The side yard would be completely opened then, looking for more conclusive evidence.
More conclusive evidence was found: large amounts of evidence of a military presence and many artifacts which Steve Warfel was able to document as items from the Fort’s time period. The dig went on for several weeks, and items were taken to Shippensburg University, where the history department volunteers carefully cleaned the artifacts.
Steve Warfel then wrote a paper encompassing the whole project: http://webspace.ship.edu/jqbao/ShipMuseum/page3/page44/page44.html Included in his paper is so much history and background leading to the proof of the location of the Fort. Anyone interested in local history should read the whole of what Steve provided in his very thorough documentation. It is fascinating.
Shippensburg Historical Society currently has one room dedicated to showing the public the amazing artifacts from the dig. They are categorized and described so that people can understand each item’s purpose and importance. Here are just a few of the examples of items found on display at the Historical Society.
Shippensburg Historical Society’s home, the Stewart House, is open to the public Wednesday, Friday and Saturday afternoons, from 1-4. You can always find something interesting to see and learn there, but right now the Fort display and the Civil War display are viewed by many visitors ever week.