In Fairfield, three centuries of local life, war unearthed
Genevieve Reilly, Staff Writer
Published: 12:00 a.m., Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Archaeologist Sheila Sabo, left, assistant Paul Sabo, center, and Calvin Munson, of Munson Builders, stand by the Osborn House in Fairfield, where Sabo discovered artifacts, such as arrowheads, a sheep's tooth, a Russian Blue trade bead, a Hudson button and quartz. The property dates back to the Pequot War, Munson owns the
property. Photo: B.K. Angeletti / Connecticut Post
FAIRFIELD -- Sheila Sabo holds the small pieces in her hand -- a chipped arrowhead, the piece of a Colonial pipestem, an old button. She found the artifacts among the roots of an old tree, pulled out in order to move a carriage house at 909 Kings Highway West in the Southport section of town. "I'll be back in May," said Sabo, the archaeologist for Munson Builders, when she plans to dig on the Post Road side of theOsborn house property, which at about 325 years is presumed by many to be the oldest dwelling in Fairfield."It's pretty much what I expected," Sabo said of her finds so far, "but I hope to find some evidence of an Indian settlement." And perhaps settle a historical debate.Though the location is thought to be the site of the Great Swamp Fight between Colonial settlers and the Pequot Indians, Sabo is among those historians who are not convinced. A monument commemorating the battle sits nearby on the Post Road, but has been moved at least three times."I don't think that is possible the Pequot war was here," she said, adding that she thinks the monument, and another at Southport Harbor, are meant to delineate the swamp from one end to the other."It's hard because the landscape was so different then," Sabo said, so landmarks that existed back then are gone, and landmarks that would be used today didn't exist at the time. Sabo is doing her digging while Cal Munson tries to sell the Osborn house. The property has been subdivided and a new house built on the lot next door. There also was an effort to preserve the vacant corner lot on the other side of the historic home and relocate the Swamp Fight monument to the site from the Post Road. It involved a three-way agreement between the town, Munson and the Southport Conservancy. But the Finance the $300,000 request and the conservancy was unable to raise the money for the acquisition on its own. Had the deal been approved, there also would have been deed restrictions on the house, limiting changes to both the interior and exterior. Now, the house and lot are for sale for $1.1 million, but Munson said he's trying to find a buyer for the Osborn house who will preserve it much as it is now. "It's such a beautiful house and extremely well maintained," Munson said. "It doesn't bring me any joy to see this house be demolished for a building lot." It is believed the dark brown colonial with the saltbox roof was built between 1675 and 1680. Inside, the original floorboards are in place, as are the fireplaces off the main chimney. Two additions were built to either end of the house in the 1950s, but the main section of the house still boasts the low, beamed ceilings. The outline of the original well for the house can be seen on the stone porch at the back of the house. As much as he loves the property, Munson said, he can't hold onto it forever. So, in the meantime, Sabo, sometimes accompanied by her 16-year-old son Paul, can be found on the site, digging up two-by-two-foot sections of the yard, and putting the dirt through a sifter, looking for treasures.To date, what she has found spans generations, starting with the arrowheads. Then there's the pipestems, and a Russian trading bead from the 1800s, and an old button with HM -- for the Hudson Metroliner train line -- stamped on it, that dates to 1908.
State archaeologist Nick Bellantoni ( left and far right) and Sheila Sabo (center), Fairfield archaeologist for Munson Builders.