The University of Lynchburg will host two history seminars this fall, one focusing on archaeology at Historic Sandusky and the other on wolf eradication in the U.S. and Finland.
The first presentation, “Archaeology in Action: New Insights from the Kitchen Excavation at Historic Sandusky,” will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 17, in Hopwood Auditorium. Admission is free and the event is open to the public.
The presentation provides an overview of archaeological work currently being undertaken at Lynchburg’s Historic Sandusky, a house museum owned and operated by the University of Lynchburg since 2016. In a partnership with the University, local engineering firm Hurt & Proffitt’s cultural resources department is leading the kitchen house renovation.
The presenters will be a mixture of H&P staff and students from the University. They include Jessica Gantzert, H&P’s laboratory director and conservator and the principal investigator on the kitchen house project; Randy Lichtenberger, archaeologist and director of cultural resources for H&P; and three Lynchburg history majors, Emma Coffey ’23, Haley Sabolcik ’23, and Abby Gonshorowski ’24.
Greg Starbuck, director of Historic Sandusky, says “excavations have taken place sporadically over the years, but starting in early 2021, continuous work has been done on the property focusing on the side work yard,” which includes the detached kitchen and smokehouse. Work is also being done to research the enslaved people who lived and worked in those areas.
These undertakings, Starbuck explains, have provided archaeologists with new and previously unknown insights into what daily life looked like in Lynchburg in the 19th century.
The second presentation will be given by a University of Lynchburg history professor, Dr. Adam Dean. “Wolf Eradication in the United States and Finland” will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 14, in Hopwood Auditorium. Admission to the lecture is free and the public is invited.
The lecture will begin by exploring an extremely rare wolf-predation incident in Finland between 1879 and 1882, where two gray wolves killed 35 children. While nothing like this happened in the United States, both countries had largely eradicated the species by the early 20th century.
Dean’s research began after reading an 1880 document by Finland-Swedish explorer Adolf Eric Nordenskiöld, translated as “A Proposal for Establishing Nation’s Parks in the Nordic Countries.”
Written during the time of the wolf attacks in Finland, it refers to wolves as a pest animal not fit for protection in parks. Having not yet heard of these attacks, Dean decided to research and explore further.
“The presentation gives important reasons and context for why wolves, an important species in the ecosystem, only inhabit a fraction of their former range,” Dean said. “It also explains why, despite the 1879-82 attacks, humans have very little to fear from the animal.”
Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, Dean says he remembers distinctly when the National Park Service reintroduced wolves to Yellowstone National Park in 1995. “Ever since that moment, I have always wanted to see a wolf in the wild,” he said.
Dean is the John M. Turner Distinguished Chair in the Humanities at the University of Lynchburg. He has been affiliated with the British American Nineteenth Century Historians and the American Society for Environmental Historians. He is the author of “An Agrarian Republic: Farming, Antislavery Politics, and Nature Parks in the Civil War Era.”