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Artifacts on display during festival

Artifacts on display during festival

September 12th, 2018 by Michelle Brooks in Local News

The story of an early pioneer family's hidden homestead is rising from the earth.

Carter Morgan Don Carlos traveled from Kentucky to Mid-Missouri before Moniteau became its own county.

He built a two-story home near what would become Prairie Home, where he and three wives created a family of 17 children over his long lifetime. His descendants were involved in the formative years of the area, helping organize traditions like the Prairie Home Fair, promoting prosperity by drawing railroad lines through, and establishing early stores like pharmacies.

For the most part, the Don Carlos family were Baptists and Republicans. They took their civic duties seriously, being part of community plans like establishing a telephone line and serving in elected positions in both Moniteau and Cooper counties.

The Don Carlos homestead was sold after three generations and the home eventually was taken down.

Lincoln University anthropology professor Christine Boston has spent the last two years digging at the homestead site, looking for clues into the early pioneer life of Mid-Missouri.

Boston said when she first heard the family name from the present owners, who gave her permission to conduct surveys and digs there, she thought perhaps they were of German or Italian lineage.

Family lore, however, suggests the family's immigrant-ancestor was a Spanish prince who chose to try the New World over taking an allowance from his family after losing his land and title in the War for Polish Succession in Europe.

What started as just a curiosity became an intriguing, long-term project for Boston and a select group of Lincoln archaeology students.

Boston's specialty is bio-archaeology, having participated in multiple South American projects preserving mummified remains. But, she is looking forward to using this project to help her archaeology students gain some hands-on experience.

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They are only at the beginning of the dig process. But, Boston will display artifacts and historic information at the Moniteau County Historical Society genealogy library Sept. 15 during the Ozark Ham and Turkey Festival.

"It's an exciting project, a happy accident," Boston said. "So little (archaeological research) has been done about rural Missouri.

"Rural areas tend to be neglected. But, like Prairie Home, they're proud of their city. So, what more could we learn about a contributing immigrant family?

"There's value in the immigrant story."

The dig began with the known perimeter of the farmhouse and a half-buried, abandoned wagon. Then, a cellar was discovered and the site of what they believe was a blacksmith's shop.

Boston said she welcomes oral history of the family or homestead to help in the work.

Some of the artifacts she has unearthed to help tell the Don Carlos family's pioneer story include glass and pottery shards, wax paper tin-roofing material, bullet casings, a bridle and varying sizes of horseshoes, a carriage coin and pieces of a wood-burning stove.

"We're just now scratching the surface of what's there," she said. "There are limitless possibilities."