Tim Mulvihill, UAFS Research Station
John Drennen (1801–1855) was a businessman, an Indian agent, and one of the founders of the city of Van Buren, Arkansas. In 2005, the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith acquired Drennen’s 1838 house in Van Buren, intending to use the property to establish both a museum and a training center for their Historic Interpretation degree program. UAFS initially contacted the Arkansas Archeological Survey for help with archeological investigations at the Drennen-Scott Historic Site during the rehabilitation of the house. This was one of several reasons for creating the new research station at UAFS. Ongoing archeological research at the site has most recently focused on the remains of outbuildings in the backyard. Tim Mulvihill led the investigations at the site, relying on the help of local volunteers (including many Arkansas Archeological Society members), and other Survey staff. UAFS students enrolled in Introduction to Archeology classes also participated in the project, allowing them to get hands-on experience with archeological fieldwork, rather than just learning about it in the classroom. Several features have been uncovered, including the foundations of a detached kitchen and a smokehouse. These foundations had been buried long ago, and so preserved, in an attempt to level off part of the backyard. In addition, a stone-lined drain was discovered at the original ground surface, approximately 60cm (2 feet) below the present ground surface, which ran adjacent to the two buildings. It is possible that the original framed structure that sat on one of these foundations is now part of the main house.
The buildings, the drain, and a low stone wall also discovered buried in the backyard had been long forgotten. No historic photographs show this area of the backyard and no living descendants of John Drennen remember any of these features. Archeology is the only way to rediscover what activities took place in the Drennen-Scott backyard in the past, and for us today to visualize or reconstruct the property as it once was.
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