Step outside and you can be standing right on top of history! That is what happened to me when I went to plant a Mother’s Day gift of roses in my yard. Immediately upon breaking ground, shards of glass and rusted pieces of tin came up with every shovel full. Before I knew it, I had a large pile of broken bottles, tin cans, shingles, a rusted out milking pail, and a tractor axle. What in the world? My rose bush was about to be planted right on top of a trash midden.
Trash middens are basically a dump site on your homestead property. Common in the early years of our country, households would just dump trash in one spot and then either try to burn it, bury it, or both. My home was built in 1875 as School House No. 5 in Winchester. It was a school for 50 years and then sold as a residence. Interestingly enough, the first historical artifact I found was a marble in the crawl space of the newer addition to the house. The family who sold the house to me, moved in around 1952. They had no idea that for the 58 years that this property was in their care, they were walking around a dump of great historical significance.
Trash middens are a great way to learn about the people who lived in our towns and homes before us. They are real archeological digs in our own backyards and this one has been so fun.