When: September 9th
Where: Otterbein University. Towers Hall 3rd floor. Room 318. Westerville Ohio 43081. Please go to the “About the COCWRT” tab for more information.
Speaker: David R. Bush; Professor of Anthropology, Heidelberg University
Topic: Johnson’s Island
David R. Bush, Ph.D.
310 E. Market Street
Tiffin, Ohio 44883
Professor of Anthropology, Heidelberg University
Director, Center for Historic and Military Archaeology
Chair, Friends and Descendants of Johnson’s Island Civil War Prison
Contact Information: 419-618-0151, firstname.lastname@example.org
-M.A., Kent State University Anthropology-Archaeology
-Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University Anthropology/Archaeology
The study of archaeology allows Dr. David R. Bush to honor history, humanity, and the earth. “It’s so important to understand that the ground contains your history and to be respectful of it. My goal is to make people think about what the Earth and archaeology represent.”
Dr. Bush has been immersed in the investigation of the Johnson’s Island Prisoner of War Depot-a Union prison confining Confederate Officers-located in Lake Erie, since 1988. His early efforts to legitimize its significance let to it being recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1990. Over the years, Bush has now led thousands of students and volunteers of all ages in exploring this Civil War prison site. Dr. Bush is an emphatic advocate for diligent awareness and constant evaluation of the overall context in which material culture is found. He directs the Experiential Learning Program in Historic Archaeology which uses the Johnson’s Island Prisoner of War Depot site to introduce 5-12 grade students to the science of archaeology and the history of the Civil War. Since 2001, Dr. Bush has been Chair of the Friends and Descendants of Johnson’s Island Civil War Prison. This not-for-profit historic preservation organization has purchased 17 acres of the prison compound and Fort Johnson for education, research, and interpretative use. These are the only acres of the prison preserved besides the 2 acres owned by the Federal Government protecting the cemetery.
Dr. Bush has spent many years and a great deal of energy in gathering and reviewing documents from museums, historical societies, and living relatives of the prisoners and guard to help in the understanding of this complex site. Combining the archaeological and historical records has allowed Dr. Bush to publish several articles on Johnson’s Island, and he is currently writing one of several planned books.
Dr. Bush joined Heidelberg University’s Center for Historic and Military Archaeology in 1998 to focus exclusively on the Johnson’s Island Prisoner of War Depot. Prior to this, he served as director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Cultural Resource Research from 1991-1998 and as director of Case Western Reserve University’s archaeological laboratory from 1980-1991.
Although Dr. Bush continues to write many articles and chapters of books, his first book on Johnson’s Island was published in 2011. It is titled I Fear I Shall Never Leave This Island. This book contextualizes the archaeological and historical data from Johnson’s Island with a set of letters written by Wesley Makely (a PoW at Johnson’s Island) with his wife Kate.
Title: Johnson’s Island Prison Uncovered: An Archaeological Exploration of a Northern Civil War Prison
Historical and archaeological evidence from the Johnson’s Island Civil War Military Prison (Sandusky Bay, Lake Erie, Ohio) allows examination of the choices that POWs had during the American Civil War. Over 10,000 Confederate Officers were imprisoned at Johnson’s Island throughout the war. Newly confined Confederate officers had to cope with thoughts about survival, escape, or assimilation. This well illustrated presentation summarizes the results of twenty plus years of research exploring prisoners attempting to cope with these choices and highlights the latest discoveries both in the field and from primary documents all over the United States.