top of page

Archaeology at the Hans Graff Site

by Jessica Conway and Curtis Hosey


Abstract: The development of Lancaster County is important to American history. Lancaster County is often considered a “culture hearth,” a highly influential region where initial development had profound cultural, political, and economic implications for many other areas over time. Throughout the 18th and 19th century, an overflow of population in the region resulted in migration to areas such as South Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia, Tennessee, and the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Knowing this key information about Lancaster County, Dr. Trussell decided to try to locate an early Lancaster County site to conduct an archaeological excavation. The Lancaster Colonial Settlement Project has been in the works for twelve years with the goal of finding a type of archaeological site that has never been found and excavated in Lancaster County before – an original pioneer cabin dating to the early 1700’s.

About the Authors

Jessica Conway is a fourth-year Anthropology major with a concentration in Archaeology. Jessica started off schooling at Millersville University solely as an anthropology major. After taking a few archaeology courses, she decided to sign up for Dr. Trussell’s field school and fell in love– persuading her to add archaeology onto her degree title. Jessica began the project at the Hans Graff Site during her first field school in 2015. She continued the project as a crew chief during the 2016 field school and as a laboratory supervisor starting January of 2017. Colonial history, especially within Lancaster County, is a huge interest to Jessica. Jessica says that “excavating at the Hans Graff Site helped shed some light on what daily life and culture might have been like during the early 18th century in Lancaster County.” This project has not only allowed her to learn about colonial Lancaster, but to also to learn about proper excavation techniques that have helped her gain a hands on experience that will carry on into her future as an archaeologist. In the future, she plans on continuing her education to pursue a master’s degree. A master’s degree will allow her to be a registered professional archaeologist and conduct her own research and excavations one day.

Curtis Hosey is a junior at Millersville University. He is an Anthropology major with a concentration in Archaeology, and more specifically a concentration that seems to be centered around that of historical time periods. The main reason behind the Hans Graff excavation was to learn more about those that settled Lancaster County and, moreover, to possibly find evidence of the earliest datable settlers’ cabin. The primary focus that really seemed to drive him to the excavation project was the desire to really get an idea of what we could learn from sites similar to this. This project was used to not only fulfill a requirement for the graduation process of the students involved, it also was to give a physical and in depth view into what field archaeology really is. When Curtis participated, he wanted to learn all that he could about the processes and techniques used in a standard excavation. It would seem that the goals of the dig were successful, but his personal goals were also reached in the completion of this project. In the future he plans to do very similar types of excavation in his line of desired work. Curtis hopes to become an archaeologist working on military sites, helping to bring to light some of the lost areas involved in some primary events in history. The time on this project and at Millersville University will go with him and be used in a multitude of ways to benefit himself and also others.

bottom of page