Exploring the Mitchell Archaeological Site

The Madison County Historical Society’s (MCHS) 2023 Speaker Series will begin on Sunday, February 12 at 2 p.m. with a presentation on the Mitchell Archaeological Site by archaeologist Don Booth. The event will be held at the Main Street Community Center at 1003 N. Main Street, Edwardsville, Illinois.

The Mitchell Archaeological Site is a pre-Columbian Mississippian mound center located at Mitchell, Illinois. The site is related to the settlement at Cahokia, and originally had a platform mound and village consisting of 10-13 additional mounds. All but two of the mounds were destroyed in the 1960s with construction of Interstate 270.

In the Spring of 2015, SCI Engineering, Inc. was contracted to conduct archaeological investigations ahead of the expansion of the Cedar Creek Lumberyard situated in the northeast portion of the Mitchell site in Madison County, Illinois. These investigations resulted in the delineation of multiple wall trench structures of varying size and shape. In an attempt to put the 2015 structures into a broader Mitchell context, an effort was made to bring all of the previous investigations at the site into a GIS format resulting in an overall site map depicting all of the excavations and cultural features that have been identified to date. This GIS mapping project provides opportunities to draw new insights into this major Mississippian center in the northern American Bottom.

Booth, an archaeologist with SCI Engineering, Inc., was part of the team that completed the work. A graduate in archaeology from SIUE and Brandies University, Booth spent his career in the field of Cultural Resource Management, conducting archaeological investigations throughout the Midwest as head of the Cultural Resource group at Sci Engineering, Inc. In addition to his employment, Booth worked towards having recognition of Cahokia Mounds as part of the National Parks Service and served three years on the Illinois State Historic Sites Advisory Council.

Events in the MCHS Speaker Series are free and open to the public. MCHS is a 501(c)3 charitable organization offering programs, exhibits, events and resources to those interested in Madison County history. The Society operates the Madison County Museum and Archival Library which are open to the public Wed.-Fri. 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sun. 1 – 4 p.m. While the museum building is being renovated, exhibits can be found in the library at 801 N. Main St. in Edwardsville, Illinois. For additional information, call 618-656-1294.

“Researching Your Family Tree Using DNA” is the topic for the Madison County Historical Society’s August Speaker Series program. The presenter, Debi Burgess, working through the DNA Detectives Facebook page, has assisted hundreds of families with finding their birth relatives. The program will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, August 7 in the lower level of Immanuel United Methodist Church at 800 N. Main St., Edwardsville, directly across the street from the MCHS Library.

DNA Detectives was founded and is administered by one of the country’s foremost genetic genealogist, Cece Moore. It is a resource where persons with questions about their birth family can reach out for assistance. Some are individuals who took a DNA test to learn their ethnicity, only to find they are not related to the people they thought were their birth family. Others have been on a life-long search to connect with birth families.

Burgess is one of many “search angels” connected to the page. These are people who have developed a high level of expertise and agree to help families in their search. They are not permitted to accept payment for their work. For the Speaker program, Burgess will discuss how you can use DNA to discover your ancestors, the websites to help in your search, and methods available. The information will be useful for beginners, as well as interesting for people with a curiosity about how DNA is being used in these searches. She will also discuss some of the recent cold cases which have been solved using genetic genealogy techniques.

MCHS Speaker Series programs are free and open to the public. Regular hours at the Madison County History Museum and Library are Wed – Fri, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sun, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Although the museum building is closed for renovations, museum exhibits can be found at the library and online at madcohistory.org. For additional information, call 618-656-7569.