The Seward Privy Project
Archeology reveals a slice of daily life in Seward's frontier days (c1905-1920)
When the National Park Service purchased land on Block 10 in downtown Seward for future use as a parking lot, NPS archeologists surveyed and tested the property looking for evidence of the town's early inhabitants. What archeologists found were the remains of three outhouses, or privies, dating to Seward's early years.
Privies are valuable because they contain everyday objects that say much about the daily lives of past people. Artifacts found in the Seward privies date between 1905 and 1920. By poring over old photographs, maps and census records, archeologists and historians were able to place early Seward residents, Fats Hewitt, Jacob Graef, and the Christopher Shea family on Block 10 during the period the privies were in use.
The outhouses were used as trash dumps as well as receptacles for human waste. While the excavated artifacts included everyday items such as nails and tin cans, they also include more personal objects like a hair barrette, garment clasps, and a variety of glass medicine bottles.
To read about the whole project and learn about other artifacts found, by checking out the eBook:
A Slice of Early Seward: How Archeology Provides a Glimpse into Daily Life in this Frontier Town
- National Park Service eBook (PDF, 54.5 MB)
Last updated: March 26, 2018