Return to Apple Island


Photo credit: GWBHS
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From July 1 through the 16th Dr. LouAnn Wurst of Western Michigan University, Mark Hoock a doctoral student from American University in Washington D.C., Aaron Howe a graduate assistant Western Michigan University, and a team of nine field school students returned to Apple Island to continue the archaeological investigation of the Campbell occupation. As part of our project goals, we excavated around the Campbell and Harvey houses, ultimately broadening our understanding of how these families, who were important to the construction of Detroit, made use of their vacation island.

While it was a short field season, it was especially productive. We spent two busy weeks on Apple Island collecting an impressive 6545 artifacts. From porcelain tableware to rusted nails, the patterns that emerged from these artifacts are already helping us piece together the vacation experience of the Campbells. A Rockingham ware pitcher with a hunting scene decoration, bullets, fishing hooks, fish and small mammal bones all speak to an interest in sport hunting and competitive activities. A blue transfer print plate with a priory pattern and two molded gothic paneled plates, taken in light of the 32 communion glasses found during the 2013 field season further support the Campbell family’s strong religious influence. Even Native American pottery found amongst the 19th century artifacts coupled with historical narratives, which discussed Forrest Campbell orchestrating the performance of a Native American ritual makes for an interesting consideration of the Campbell’s curiosity and perhaps admiration for Early Americans. We also found 65 smoking pipe fragments including 19 individual pipes, indicating a striking amount of smoking.

The information the 2014 field season yielded combined with the data collected in 2013 supports Apple Island’s eligibility as a state recognized historic property. Dr. Wurst and Skylar Bauer of WMU are sending the completed questionnaire for evaluation by the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office (MISHPO). Furthermore, Skylar is continuing to collect the necessary documentation and writing up the official National Register of Historic Places Registration Form in order to successfully place Apple Island on the National Register.

Additionally, the data collected furthers the scope of Mark Hoock’s dissertation project, which focuses on the Campbell’s social position, maintained through social relations and performances on Apple Island.

We would also very much like to thank the West Bloomfield Historic Society for their support of the Apple Island Archaeological Project.