19th C. NYC Horse Skull Excavated + Blob Bottles!

UnderMiner

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Went out today looking to perform some amateur archeology. The day did not disappoint. I went to a site I found last year while researching NYC street survey maps from the turn of the 20th century. This location was filled with landfill between 1900-1910 to make a street. Part of the landfill has begun being eroded away by the tides and exposing treasures from the period below. Everything burried under this semi-under water site dates to 1910 or older! It's really amazing!

20220511_202725.jpg

This is one of the first things I found. It's difficult to see but it's a horse's skull completely encased in thick clay. I excavated the skull and was able to reconstruct it later at home. It's about 75% complete.
20220511_192144.jpg

We here at the Underminer household have determined through dental examination and other forensic indicators that this horse was between 20 and 30 years old when he died. He was definitely a domestic work horse as he has wear on his teeth from where a bit rubbed up against them. At some point he broke the upper rear most tooth on the left side of his mouth probably from accidentally chewing a small stone. He died no later than 1910, his body was likely abandoned in the street, a common practice for the day, subsequently it was collected by NYC sanitation who dumped him in the landfill so they could build the new street on top. Given his approximate age of 20-30 he was probably born some time between 1880-1890 and would have served his best years still walking streets made of paving stones and pulling wagons and carriages with kerosene lanterns. An old cowboy may have even once rode him in his younger years.

20220511_192106.jpg

Here's a picture of Mr. Horse about to drink some Frank Thurm beer. I found the 110 year old beer bottle close to his skull. The beer bottle was made at 1151 Stebins Ave, a small two block street where the address inscribed on the bottle still exists but is now a private residence. I bet the horse rode past the brewery a few times in his life when it was still around.
20220511_202629.jpg

Here is the full collection of period bottles I found, four blob-top beer bottles, plus some other little embossed bottles. This is an unprecedented number blob-top bottles, I normally only find one or two if I'm really lucky, never four, it was truly a lucky day.
20220511_192036.jpg

Here's the same bottles cleaned up (plus a unique dairy jug I found from the same dig)

The beer bottles are from the following companies: The Ebling Brewing Company, Frank Thurm, David Stevenson Brewing Company, and Kellerman's Bottling Works.

The only company I could find any indepth historical information on was the David Stevenson Brewing Company.
It started in 1851 in Manhattan. The owner, David Stevenson died in 1886 leaving the business to his son David Stevenson Jr. who died just 6 years later in 1892. The comapy went on to be run by outside investors after that, and they did very well, by 1902 they produced nearly 140,000 barrels of beer per year. The company went out of buisness along with most other breweries in 1920 when prohibition went into effect. It was located on 40th Street and 10th Ave.

20220511_140450.jpg

The Ebling beer bottle emerging from the landfill through the process of tidal erosion. For the first time in 110 years it sees daylight after being encased in clay.
20220511_140558.jpg


5c9b03275af5f4df0f47e408829faace.jpg

5th Ave NYC in 1905 when our horse would have been working. Note the presence of the one lone automobile, can you see it in that sea of horse-drawn carriages? :)
Horses-in-Cities.png

An older imagine when our horse would have been in the prime of his youth.

4a09038a.preview.jpg

This image was taken by photographer Joseph Byron some time between 1900-1906 in NYC. The image is titled "Close of a Career in New York". It depicts an old work horse dead on the street where some children are playing in the gutter. Our horse would have been old but still working rhe same streets when this picture was taken. He likely experienced the same fate as this image depicts. It's sad. They were probably the last generation of working horses before automobiles took over.

That's all for now.
 
Upvote 28

Digger RJ

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Went out today looking to perform some amateur archeology. The day did not disappoint. I went to a site I found last year while researching NYC street survey maps from the turn of the 20th century. This location was filled with landfill between 1900-1910 to make a street. Part of the landfill has begun being eroded away by the tides and exposing treasures from the period below. Everything burried under this semi-under water site dates to 1910 or older! It's really amazing!

View attachment 2026235
This is one of the first things I found. It's difficult to see but it's a horse's skull completely encased in thick clay. I excavated the skull and was able to reconstruct it later at home. It's about 75% complete.
View attachment 2026237
We here at the Underminer household have determined through dental examination and other forensic indicators that this horse was between 20 and 30 years old when he died. He was definitely a domestic work horse as he has wear on his teeth from where a bit rubbed up against them. At some point he broke the upper rear most tooth on the left side of his mouth probably from accidentally chewing a small stone. He died no later than 1910, his body was likely abandoned in the street, a common practice for the day, subsequently it was collected by NYC sanitation who dumped him in the landfill so they could build the new street on top. Given his approximate age of 20-30 he was probably born some time between 1880-1890 and would have served his best years still walking streets made of paving stones and pulling wagons and carriages with kerosene lanterns. An old cowboy may have even once rode him in his younger years.

View attachment 2026245
Here's a picture of Mr. Horse about to drink some Frank Thurm beer. I found the 110 year old beer bottle close to his skull. The beer bottle was made at 1151 Stebins Ave, a small two block street where the address inscribed on the bottle still exists but is now a private residence. I bet the horse rode past the brewery a few times in his life when it was still around.
View attachment 2026249
Here is the full collection of period bottles I found, four blob-top beer bottles, plus some other little embossed bottles. This is an unprecedented number blob-top bottles, I normally only find one or two if I'm really lucky, never four, it was truly a lucky day.
View attachment 2026250
Here's the same bottles cleaned up (plus a unique dairy jug I found from the same dig)

The beer bottles are from the following companies: The Ebling Brewing Company, Frank Thurm, David Stevenson Brewing Company, and Kellerman's Bottling Works.

The only company I could find any indepth historical information on was the David Stevenson Brewing Company.
It started in 1851 in Manhattan. The owner, David Stevenson died in 1886 leaving the business to his son David Stevenson Jr. who died just 6 years later in 1892. The comapy went on to be run by outside investors after that, and they did very well, by 1902 they produced nearly 140,000 barrels of beer per year. The company went out of buisness along with most other breweries in 1920 when prohibition went into effect. It was located on 40th Street and 10th Ave.

View attachment 2026257
The Ebling beer bottle emerging from the landfill through the process of tidal erosion. For the first time in 110 years it sees daylight after being encased in clay.
View attachment 2026264

View attachment 2026265
5th Ave NYC in 1905 when our horse would have been working. Note the presence of the one lone automobile, can you see it in that sea of horse-drawn carriages? :) View attachment 2026266
An older imagine when our horse would have been in the prime of his youth.

View attachment 2026274
This image was taken by photographer Joseph Byron some time between 1900-1906 in NYC. The image is titled "Close of a Career in New York". It depicts an old work horse dead on the street where some children are playing in the gutter. Our horse would have been old but still working rhe same streets when this picture was taken. He likely experienced the same fate as this image depicts. It's sad. They were probably the last generation of working horses before automobiles took over.

That's all for now.
Nice!!! Congrats!!!
 

Coinstar magnet

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Went out today looking to perform some amateur archeology. The day did not disappoint. I went to a site I found last year while researching NYC street survey maps from the turn of the 20th century. This location was filled with landfill between 1900-1910 to make a street. Part of the landfill has begun being eroded away by the tides and exposing treasures from the period below. Everything burried under this semi-under water site dates to 1910 or older! It's really amazing!

View attachment 2026235
This is one of the first things I found. It's difficult to see but it's a horse's skull completely encased in thick clay. I excavated the skull and was able to reconstruct it later at home. It's about 75% complete.
View attachment 2026237
We here at the Underminer household have determined through dental examination and other forensic indicators that this horse was between 20 and 30 years old when he died. He was definitely a domestic work horse as he has wear on his teeth from where a bit rubbed up against them. At some point he broke the upper rear most tooth on the left side of his mouth probably from accidentally chewing a small stone. He died no later than 1910, his body was likely abandoned in the street, a common practice for the day, subsequently it was collected by NYC sanitation who dumped him in the landfill so they could build the new street on top. Given his approximate age of 20-30 he was probably born some time between 1880-1890 and would have served his best years still walking streets made of paving stones and pulling wagons and carriages with kerosene lanterns. An old cowboy may have even once rode him in his younger years.

View attachment 2026245
Here's a picture of Mr. Horse about to drink some Frank Thurm beer. I found the 110 year old beer bottle close to his skull. The beer bottle was made at 1151 Stebins Ave, a small two block street where the address inscribed on the bottle still exists but is now a private residence. I bet the horse rode past the brewery a few times in his life when it was still around.
View attachment 2026249
Here is the full collection of period bottles I found, four blob-top beer bottles, plus some other little embossed bottles. This is an unprecedented number blob-top bottles, I normally only find one or two if I'm really lucky, never four, it was truly a lucky day.
View attachment 2026250
Here's the same bottles cleaned up (plus a unique dairy jug I found from the same dig)

The beer bottles are from the following companies: The Ebling Brewing Company, Frank Thurm, David Stevenson Brewing Company, and Kellerman's Bottling Works.

The only company I could find any indepth historical information on was the David Stevenson Brewing Company.
It started in 1851 in Manhattan. The owner, David Stevenson died in 1886 leaving the business to his son David Stevenson Jr. who died just 6 years later in 1892. The comapy went on to be run by outside investors after that, and they did very well, by 1902 they produced nearly 140,000 barrels of beer per year. The company went out of buisness along with most other breweries in 1920 when prohibition went into effect. It was located on 40th Street and 10th Ave.

View attachment 2026257
The Ebling beer bottle emerging from the landfill through the process of tidal erosion. For the first time in 110 years it sees daylight after being encased in clay.
View attachment 2026264

View attachment 2026265
5th Ave NYC in 1905 when our horse would have been working. Note the presence of the one lone automobile, can you see it in that sea of horse-drawn carriages? :) View attachment 2026266
An older imagine when our horse would have been in the prime of his youth.

View attachment 2026274
This image was taken by photographer Joseph Byron some time between 1900-1906 in NYC. The image is titled "Close of a Career in New York". It depicts an old work horse dead on the street where some children are playing in the gutter. Our horse would have been old but still working rhe same streets when this picture was taken. He likely experienced the same fate as this image depicts. It's sad. They were probably the last generation of working horses before automobiles took over.

That's all for now.
Absolutely fascinating! Thank you for sharing this.... we need this type of documentation to remind us of what things were like...
Nice!!! Congrats!!!
 

Back-of-the-boat

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Very cool finds and the story was well thought out and the research with pictures was very good. To bad you couldn't have found another beer bottle from that address, I would have given one( not the best one of course) to the owner so they could see the history of their address.
 
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UnderMiner

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Very cool finds and the story was well thought out and the research with pictures was very good. To bad you couldn't have found another beer bottle from that address, I would have given one( not the best one of course) to the owner so they could see the history of their address.
That's an interesting idea... maybe I'll pay them a visit.
 

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I am not complaining at ALL . But being a horse person I am saddened to think some day my horses will be gone :(
 

Gare

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last January when i was in the hospital with my heart surgery . I was more worried about what was going to happen my my horses then i was worried about me. I did not think i would survive the situation.
 

WannaDig3687

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What a unique post! Thank you so much for telling the horse's story. So many little details are lost and forgotten. I can't help but shiver and say, "Yuck," when I look at those pics of the kids playing next to the dead horse.
Very cool bottles you found. Love the blobs! The little one with the Ace of Spades embossed really caught my eye. Congrats and good luck with your digging!
 

pepperj

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Great day of bottle recoveries, congrats.
Oh that's a great photo of the bottle sticking out of the bank.

Query: The natural erosion that is occurring now, is it a threat to any infrastructure as roads/buildings?
Just kind of wondering as time is limited as they'll try to stop/repair it.
 
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UnderMiner

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Great day of bottle recoveries, congrats.
Oh that's a great photo of the bottle sticking out of the bank.

Query: The natural erosion that is occurring now, is it a threat to any infrastructure as roads/buildings?
Just kind of wondering as time is limited as they'll try to stop/repair it.
The erosion seems to be progressing fairly quickly actually. Each time I visited the bank got eroded enough to expose fresh artifacts poking out of the clay. The city survey map shows the area, uniquely enough, prior to 1910 was once a network of tiny marsh islets. The space between the islets was filled in far beyond that which was neccesary for the time, likely to act as a buffer from the water so the new street wouldn't be washed away years later. They clearly thought ahead.

The street is still far inland and shouldn't be threatened for at least another 100 years. The landfill is massive, encompassing an area of at least a quarter mile squared. That's a quarter mile of 1910-era and older artifacts.

This is by no means the oldest nor largest landfill in NYC. The entirety of lower manhattan is a landfill, and it's been continually added to since from the time of the first Dutch settlers through the turn of the 20th century. NYC is just one big historic garbage heap. I know one guy who digs in lower Manhattan. Occasionally he finds these strange looking yellow bricks. These bricks are Dutch, and were imported from Europe as ballast on the ships that brought the very first settlers to New Amsterdam in the 1600's.
 

Z.K.

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I really appreciate you taking the time to share this fascinating window into history. You’ve put so much work into every aspect of the story you’ve shared with us.

It’s of such quality and interest it makes me wish we had a separate place on Tnet to recognize posts of this level of historical richness, anchored by discovered objects. Well done and thank you!
 

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