Butchered Bones, Shells and Corn Cobs

Last year we decided to take out the closet in what is now our dining room. It was built to the left of the stove chimney, which was also enclosed with framing, lath and plaster. At some point the room was converted to a bedroom so the alcove created by the chimney makes a perfect place for a closet.
Group of items found inside closet wall.

What was a bedroom just off the kitchen. The bones, etc. in the picture above were found behind the wall of the closet to the left.
Here is that same wall with the lath and plaster gone.
Lath and plaster coming down to the left of the brick column.
The walls in this entire room, including the interior of the closet, were replaced, probably around 1860 when the house was moved to it's current location. They are constructed of plaster and circular-sawn, dimensional lath. The framing for the closet was not done with modern dimensional studs though. Instead, it had what seemed to be some precursor to that, like a step towards dimensional lumber, but still pretty irregular. There were still knots from limbs bumping out of the sides of the wood.

Knots in the lumber used to make a frame around the stove chimney.
If I try to figure out how or why the lumber appears this way, the only thing that makes sense to me is that finishing these on the fourth side was unnecessary, so the lumber was only cut on the other 3 sides. I guess small, straight trees could have been used as well, but I wouldn't imagine they would be as strong as a mature tree. But I digress. Knowing when the walls were replaced with more modern materials doesn't necessarily mean anything in terms of the stuff that was inside the original wall since it's likely that whatever was inside the wall was probably left there when the walls were replaced.

Below is a picture of the opened up cavity once I took the lath and plaster off. The wall you're seeing is the interior side of the original exterior wall sheathing. The kitchen, which is now on the other side of this wall, was added sometime in the first half of the 20th century. So, between it and the stud was a collection of bones, shells and corn cobs. Incidentally, I also found the stamp here too. It was probably carried there by a rodent. 

Above is the same area cleaned up. You can see the individual horizontal sheathing boards, the timber framing, and the stove chimney to the right. How and why this collection of stuff ended up inside the wall is another, probably unsolvable mystery. It could have been rodents that carried it there over time, or there may have been a hole in the original wall where "trash" was thrown. One thought is that this room once housed a cooking hearth and some dinner scraps were chucked in the wall. But I don't think so. For one thing there would be a lot more of it.

What I do think, is that this stuff was more about the other end of consumption- relics of a pre-Charmin society. It is common knowledge that this type of material, what is considered in modern society as trash or something for the compost pile, was used as toilet paper. The pic above shows the bleached foundlings. I am willing to bet, though, that pre-cleaning, some of these things contained plenty of human DNA. 

Chicken vertebrae (I assume) and a human finger bone. Huh!?

Ok, so it's not a finger bone. I believe they are all chicken vertebrae.
Written by Kerry Baldridge

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