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Three Monkeys Site (23PL1419)



foundation along front of the houseIn 2004, while conducting a preliminary design survey for improvements to Route 45 in Platte County, a stone house foundation and an associated stone-lined well were identified by MoDOT surveyors.  The property was reported to the MoDOT Historic Preservation office, which conducted historical background research.  The research revealed that the property had been settled in 1837 by Joshua Noland, and occupied for over 100 years by three successive generations of the same family.

The history of the family is intrinsically linked to events and trends affecting Platte County and Missouri in general.  At the time Joshua Noland and his extended family were immigrating to Platte County, hundreds of other families from the upper south were making a similar journey.  Although Joshua Noland was one of the earlier settlers, other families from Tennessee and Kentucky quickly joined him.  Joshua purchased 160 acres, which he evenly distributed among his seven surviving children, including his son George.  George Noland, through honest effort and perhaps good fortune, expanded his portion of the farm to include 360 acres by 1885.  George Noland’s agricultural experience in the 1870s and 1880s reflected a countywide trend toward larger and fewer farms within Platte County, and this trend accelerated into the 20th century.

Archaeological excavation of the Noland home was conducted in October 2006, at which time portions of the house, cellar, well, and front yard space were investigated.  Research questions focused on isolating the construction date of the house, and studying the impacts of economic and social changes on members of the household.  A land survey map filed with Obed Noland’s (1822-1865) probate records shows the “G.W. Noland house” at the approximate location of site 23PL1419.  Based upon the records that have been examined, it appears certain that the house was built no later than 1865, and was occupied by at least two generations of the Noland family.  This conclusion is corroborated by the results of the archaeological excavation.  Building material and personal items recovered from the front of the house suggest that the house was built and occupied no later than the 1870s.  The actual construction date of the house remains uncertain, as no temporally diagnostic artifacts were recovered from the builder’s trenches around the foundations.

Fifth-grade students given tour of the site

In the early-1940s, the family moved away from the property, and sometime around 1945 the Noland house burned down.  Although the house was apparently vacant, it still contained a plethora of domestic and personal items. As would be expected, the artifacts recovered from within the house foundations date to the later part of the occupation.  These artifacts include several items of bric-a-brac such as a bisque “three monkeys” figurine, a variety of French perfume and make-up containers, and a child’s tea service.

During the excavation, fifth-grade students from the nearby Union Chapel Elementary School were escorted to the site and given a tour of the excavation. Although relatively small in scope and size, the excavation of the Three Monkeys site offered the unique opportunity to supply an additional benefit to the community by organizing educational field trips.

A technical report on the historical and archaeological investigations of the Joshua Noland home is currently being prepared. Additional information, including personal interviews with descendants and long-time residents, will be collected and incorporated into the final report.

personal items recovered from inside north room

 

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