Irish San Francisco gold rush artifacts found in archaeology dig
Excavation for new terminal unearths historic mementos of gold rush era
Gold rush artifacts from the 1850s, including many pieces owned by Irish laborers, have been discovered in San Francisco during the building of a new transportation terminal.
The 70 artifacts discovered to date have archaeologists excited about what potentially lies underneath the site in the Financial district near downtown San Francisco.
"It's not often that you get a chance to stop for a moment and have a window into what used to be,"
James M. Allan, an archaeologist with William Self Associates, told the Associated Press... "It gives you pause."
The $4 billion project is being called the Grand Central of the West and it is located where Irish and Chinese immigrants lived side by side during the heady days after the San Francisco gold rush in 1849.
The names revealed include the Donahues and the Dollivers, the Wings and the Lings, and uncovered so far have been teapots, hand painted dolls for kids, animal bone toothbrushes , serving dishes and even chamber pots as well as opium pipes.
The Irish lived in cheap clapboard houses. Many came for the gold rush and stayed on to help build the transportation system.
The artifacts include historic photos and newspapers, including an 1885 article from the San Francisco Chronicle in which Irish landlords — J.S. and Mary W. Dolliver were looking for $500 in damages from Ah Wing and 11 Chinese tenants for the "offensive smells from the laundry that have injured the rental value of the plaintiff's premises."
Allan said they they expect to unearth hundreds more artifacts.
"What is unusual is that we were able to identify the people and occupations of the early Gold Rush," he told AP.
"When the Gold Rush started in the 1850s, the miners came here and there was no place for them to live, so they lived in the sand dunes and then tent camps. We found the evidence: a wooden floor and a lot of bottles, barrels, a privy, leather shoes and boots."
He says a porcelain chamber pot was an intriguing find. "Typically that goes under the bed and you use it at night so you don't have to go out and use the privy," Allan said. "I found it sort of ironic that we would find a chamber pot in the privy."
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