2020: Junaluska Community, North Carolina

2020: Junaluska Community, North Carolina

The Junaluska Community Archaeology Project (JCAP) aims to document and preserve the material heritage of Junaluska, an historically Black community in the southern Appalachian town of Boone. Following the publication of a book on the oral history of Junaluska (Keefe 2020) and several months of conversation with the Junaluska Heritage Association (JHA), we initiated this project in Spring 2021 as a three-credit archaeology field school for Appalachian State students. Our first goal was to identify unmarked graves at the Clarissa Hill Cemetery, which was deeded to the Junaluska community in 1956. Students spent three days assisting with a geophysical survey by the North Carolina Office of State Archaeology (NCOSA)—laying out survey grids, pushing the GPR cart, and documenting headstones. Students also engaged with visitors from the JHA and the wider Junaluska community, who shared their knowledge about funeral practices and possible grave locations, as well as their stories about the friends and family members laid to rest at Clarissa Hill. Although time and weather precluded a full survey of the cemetery, we are confident that future work will help the JHA meet their immediate preservation goals.

Our second goal was to learn more about the origins of Junaluska. Drawing on research by two Public History graduate students, we focused on finding the Troy Councill farm, remembered in oral histories as the home of an emancipated Black family in the mid-nineteenth century. Students spent eight days digging shovel-test pits and excavation units across several house lots in “The Mountain” neighborhood on the northern edge of Boone. Artifacts from this area commonly included modern plastic debris, but also coal, bottle and window glass, whiteware sherds, and iron nails consistent with at least some occupation circa 1870-1930. Although we cannot say for certain this was the Troy Councill homestead, these finds fit well with oral histories of Junaluska community, and provide clues for future fieldwork.

References Cited

Keefe, Susan E. 2020. Junaluska: Oral histories of a Black Appalachian Community. MacFarland, Jefferson, NC.


Shovel-testing in “The Mountain” neighborhood north of Boone


Students excavating in “The Mountain” neighborhood north of Boone


Students discovering a mid-20th century 7-Up bottle during excavation


Dr. Gokee and Dr. Wright with field school students.