Heinlenville was one of six San José Chinatowns. Archaeologists from the Anthropological Studies Center, Sonoma State University and local San José historians are working with the Redevelopment Agency, City of San José to unearth selected areas of Heinlenville and early Japantown. The test excavation took place from the 11th to 17th March 2008, and data recovery excavation was conducted from the 14th to 23rd of April 2009. Work continues now back at the ASC lab, as we process artifacts and soil samples recovered from the site.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

We made it!

Somebody at the end of the day said: “We made it until the ninth day…!” Yes, we made until the last day … though physically we leave the site tomorrow, today was really the last day of work. The last day is normally reserved for finishing things … “sketch map and draw the cross-section of this wall, while I’m going to do the stratigraphy … so, the light clay is underneath the dark clay with inclusions … and next to the dark clay with no inclusions….” Other people would be cutting small sections to find out more about a certain feature … “Oh, no … this pipe seems to go further … we don’t have time for this! Hurry, hurry …” tic, tock … the day is almost gone ….

Our sore muscles and bodies need a rest after so much hard work … mixed feelings of sadness for leaving site, and happiness for a well done job, and because we can go back to our houses, and back to our normal lives … so much we have learned!!! So much we will learn … once we put all the pieces together!!!

Despite my body aching, the partial sunburn and missing my home and friends … I look back and I feel fortunate … I have participated in bringing back to life the lives of many Chinese and Japanese … their stories won’t fall into oblivion.

Rut Ballesteros
Graduate Student

Day 9

The morning started off with that enthusiasm that accompanies Day 9 (or day 5 for me); the light glistening at the end of the tunnel, yet sore bodies and tired souls knowing they need to finish working on the variety of features that are open across the project area. If you’ve been following the blog or live in the area, you know it has been hot. Today we felt a bit of relief, with the temperature only in the upper 80’s!

As some folks went off to work on a smear of bricks that were located in the spot that a pig-roasting oven was shown on the Sanborn maps, others went to work on redwood drains and postmold features. I joined folks on the other side of Taylor Street from Heinlenville proper, in the backyard of a residence that was built at some point in the late 19th to early 20th century. This feature was chock full of goodies!

We found more homeopathic medicine bottles, an Indian penny from 1896, lots of ceramic fragments (including several large—and I mean large storage vessels), and various personal items (like toothbrush fragments, clothing fasteners, and a shoe) to name a few. Most notably, however, was the amount of clamshells; they were everywhere! And of course Connie Young Yu was telling us how her family always loved having clams and black bean sauce. It is always such a joy, to have people with a personal attachment to the stuff you are digging up on the site; and even better when they are historians themselves! The worked continued on in that feature while I stepped away from the trench and began to get set up for tomorrow’s total station mapping of all of the work that has been done this year. More fun to be had…

Bryan Much