Digging into the past

Some of the artifacts Miroff said she will be focusing on at the event on Sunday are items that tell a bit about a family who formerly occupied land on the parcel, the Orlops. The materials dated back to the 1800s up until the 1830s. Miroff said the daughter of the Orlops' had married one of the Hocknells, a descendent of one of the first Shakers to live in the area.

From the artifacts discovered, she said, she could tell the family was not extremely wealthy but since they lived in such close proximity to the city of Albany, they had access to many food items such as clams, and ceramic plates they possibly displayed at the dinner table.

"For some reason, there was also an unusual amount of smoking pipes," she said. "They were just tobacco pipes. We did find one fragment of a Native American smoking pipe."

A lot of the fact-checking was done by looking at the deeds for the house and censuses from the time period. A census from the 1800s showed the Orlops had a slave living in their home, but the following decade showed that had changed. It also revealed the family was a part of the Rensselaer Militia during the Revolutionary War.

Miroff said they even discovered projectile points from spears that dated as far back as 6,000 B.C.

"With the size and shape, we were able to compare those to others found during that time period," she said. "It showed there was hunting, collecting of wild resources and processes. They were moving and not staying there for too long at the site."

There is also another site at Normans Kill that dated back to 2,000 B.C., which had several different projectile points.

The house that was built by the Orlops disturbed the site greatly, making it harder for Miroff to tell its native history.

"It's hard to provide a context because of how disturbed it was by the historical site," she said.

The library talk is free and will begin at 2 p.m.


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