The Historic Unitaria Site

In 2018 CAP was held at the historic Unitaria site, located in a rural area north of Belden, Town of Colesville, New York. According to local historians (Jacob 1978), this small cross-roads area was named Unitaria in the 19th century and, for a short time, had a post office. Oral history indicates the post office was on the archaeological site that we are investigating. There is currently no documentary evidence that this was the local post office. What we do know is that the land was associated with the Hurlburt family, who were famous horse trainers in the mid-19th century. M. D. Hurlburt, along with A. D. Rockwell, trained a team of 3 "rein less" horses that were commanded solely by whip movements. The troupe performed all over the United States. M. D. Hurlburt, Rockwell, and the horses were all killed in 1875 when the ship on which they were sailing from Oregon, the S.S. Pacific, sank.


Recent archaeological investigations of the site have produced a range of domestic material which currently appears to concentrate in the period from the 1840s to 1870s. Historic maps indicate a house was located here in the 1850s and 1860s, which is consistent with the material culture we are getting from the site. However, there is no definite link between the family living in this house and M. D. Hurlburt. Whether the people living in the house in the mid-19th century were members of the Hurlburt family, kept the local post office, or were simply rural farmers, the site does appear to represent a tightly dated mid-19th century household that has significant archaeological potential. Moreover, it has become an important place in local oral history. Our investigations here will provide a great deal of information on this period in rural New York and help flesh out the town's oral traditions. 


Jacob, R. Leone
1978 Famines, Fires, and Festivals: A History of Colesville (1785-1978). Town of Colesville, Colesville, New York.