Back in 2004, I was working on a paper "REVISITING THE MYSTERY OF “CARANTOUAN” AND SPANISH HILL" that was later published in PA Archaeologist. Because I was trying to re-educate the public about this important part of our local history, I had begun to do presentations around the region as well, and had even decided to plan a 3-day event called "Spanish Hill History Days."
Presenters included Dick Cowles, well studied historian and son of Mr. Ellsworth Cowles, who was an amateur archaeologist that worked with all the professionals and even worked with Warren K. Moorehead during the Susquehanna River Expedition in 1916. I had met up with Dick when searching for Ellsworth and the work he had done on Spanish Hill.
Sadly, Ellsworth had passed away in 1991. But, when I was invited to the Cowles home, I was shocked to find that they had actually preserved all of Ellsworth's collection.
Dick and Marcia however were being tasked with trying to figure out what to do with it...Thanks to SRAC, today it remains still in tact.
Another speaker at the 2004 Spanish Hill History Days was Ted Keir, local amateur archaeologist, teacher, and geology major. Ted, in my mind, was the last "Ellworth Cowles" our region has known, and he was doing his part to continue to educate the region about the digs and artifacts that were found in this region. To me, Ted is the scientist of the group, still teaching all of us about lithics and pottery and all of the local sites that exist for miles around.
The three of us - Ted Keir, Dick Cowles, and myself are all lifetime board members. In other words, we have dedicated our lives to SRAC.
We are also blessed to have other board members that bring other strengths to SRAC. Susan Fogel is our newsletter and PR editor. Inga Welles is our Events & Sales lead and other "rock hound" in the group. Jessica Quinn is our secretary, AV specialist, and person who is willing to wear whatever hat we need. Sharon Franklin is our local school and business contact and adviser. Tom Valiliee is our other local amateur archaeologist and our lead for organizing many other efforts behind the scenes. I can tell you that other non-profits would die for the group we have. We are all VERY active, and loyal to the cause.
Add around 100 members with the same interests and concerns for our local history and prehistory and it's preservation and an advisory committee made up of professional archaeologists, anthropologists and scholars that find our region and mission just as exciting as we do. Together we make up the Susquehanna River Archaeological Center of Native Indian Studies, SRAC.
So - Who are we? We are a group of people who believe that our prehistory and early history is an incredible story that is not finished. We believe that our Center is needed not only to celebrate what we know, but to continue to research and learn about what we are not clear about yet. We believe that our artifacts our OURS, and that they should no longer be sold off, but kept here in order to allow us to continue to learn from them for generations to come.
Stay tuned for more about SRAC, our mission, and our future goals.