Category Archives: Dating Historical Structures

Dating Historical Structures of Sonnenberg Village

Summer researchers have started a new project!

Last Wednesday, the AMRE group met with Ray Leisly at Sonnenberg Village in Kidron, Ohio.

Mr. Leisly brought the group to three different historical structures, including two homes and one barn. The families who own these structures are interested in learning how old their historical buildings are.

AMRE group and Nick Wiesenberg meet with Ray outside of Sonnenberg Church.
An example of one of the original deeds from  Miller House.

The group collected around 15 cores from each structure, using both hand borers and an electric drill with a hollow drill bit. This process is more thoroughly outlined in our Gingery Barn post.

Dr. Wiles using the electric drill to extract a core from a beam in Miller Barn.
Nick extracting core from overhead beam with a hand borer in Miller Barn.
Stacked beams from Zuercher house.
Freshly mounted core taken from Zuercher house beam.

On Thursday, the group returned to the lab to finish preparing the samples. Nick Wiesenberg used the belt sanders while Kendra and Juwan hand-sanded each core. This process helps to expose the ring boundaries so they can be more easily counted and measured under the microscope.

The team is currently analyzing each core by counting the number of rings, measuring ring widths, and comparing this data to a master chronology. Cross-dating will allow us to obtain the date that each tree was cut down, which will then indicate how old each historical structure is. Soon we will be able to report to our clients with details on our findings and a calendar date for when their buildings were constructed.

Stay tuned for updates!

Summer Researchers Start on New Project: Gingery Barn

Summer researchers in the CoW Tree Ring Lab have started a new project!

Early Wednesday morning, the group met with a new client, Don Gingery, who is interested in learning the age of his barn located in the Wooster area.

He brought in a few pieces of wood for us to check out and determine if they were good enough for processing. The oak samples did pass the test and qualified for sampling.

Some things we consider:

  • How many rings can we see with the naked eye? If there are only around 30 rings, that would not be a good sample for dating and comparing to the Ohio master chronology.
  • Is the sample whole? We look for the presence of both the outermost and inner rings to ensure we can obtain the most data. It is difficult to date structures if the outer rings are missing because we do not know exactly when that particular tree was felled.
  • Variation in ring width? The more variation between rings, the more interesting the data will be for us when looking at the tree’s relationship to precipitation records.
Oak beam sample.
The second oak sample.
Close-up prior to sanding in the lab.

To prepare the samples, Josh sanded the oak slice on the belt sander to polish its surface while Juwan and Dr. Wiles worked on obtaining a core from the other oak beam. This was done with a drill and special hollow drill bit. Two cores were extracted and immediately mounted.

Drill used for coring the beam.
Dr. Wiles aligning the drill bit prior to drilling in order to hit the heartwood and center of the rings.
Obtaining the first core.
Juwan drilling for the second core.
Obtaining the second core from the oak beam.

This drill bit is different from the hand borers used at the Holden Arboretum because it provides us with a core of a larger diameter. This is beneficial in studying the rings under the scope because we can look at a larger area of each annual ring. This drill is often used by the Tree Ring Lab when coring beams of structures rather than living trees.

The two cores extracted from the oak beam brought in by the client.
Juwan preparing the mount with wood glue.

One of the mounted cores to be left to dry.

When we returned this morning, Juwan, Victoria, and Kendra sanded and polished the two cores. Kendra is now working on measuring the ring widths under the microscope. Next steps include cross-dating and comparing these measured series to other Ohio records. We hope to then be able to provide our client with a report of our findings including a calendar date for the Gingery structure.

Stay tuned for updates!!


Our final report can be found here.

Summer 2018 Research in the CoW Tree Ring Lab

This summer, students through the AMRE program will be working in the lab doing historical dating. Kendra Devereux, Alexis Lanier, and Juwan Shabazz will be working with clients to date local barns, update chronologies, and study past climate.

Two additional students are working in the lab with data collected from Columbia Glacier in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Josh Charlton and Victoria Race will be helping out the AMRE students and also spending time with data collected from Columbia Glacier. Josh is working on constructing a model of the rapidly retreating Columbia Glacier and Victoria will be looking more closely at Blue Intensity data obtained from tree cores collected in Columbia Bay.

Work started earlier this week and the group went out in the field yesterday for the first time together. We headed up North to the Holden Arboretum to collect core samples from living Chestnut Oak trees in Stebbins Gulch.

2018 “Tree Huggers” From left to right: Victoria Race, Kendra Devereux, Alexis Lanier, Josh Charleton, and Juwan Shabazz
Alexis removing tree borer after extracting core from this chestnut oak.
Taking some measurements along with a few cores from this living chestnut oak.
Juwan and Kendra showing off their extracted cores.
Dr. Wiles checking the budding leaves of a chestnut oak.
One of our freshly extracted cores.

Today we finished mounting the cores and will begin dating them after they have been sanded. These samples will be used to update the chronology from the Holden Arboretum which has not been updated in several decades. We plan on looking specifically at precipitation data extracted from these cores and then writing an official report of our findings for the researchers at Holden.

Chestnut oak cores collected from Stebbins Gulch before mounting process.
Close-up of a damp core before mounting.

In the coming weeks, the group will be working on various projects including the Holden chronology, barn dating, and Columbia Glacier data. Stay tuned for updates!!

You can also follow the Geology Club instagram for more information and photos along with the departmental Facebook page.

Summer research in the COW Tree Ring Lab

This summer, several students will be working in the COW Tree Ring Lab on several different projects. Josh Charlton, Eduardo Luna, and Emily Randall have already been hard at work conducting research on Alaska Yellow Cedar trees. Emily has been looking at ring widths and correlating them with climate variables at Tlingit Point, Alaska, while Josh has been measuring their blue intensity. Both are working on a Keck Gateway project on tree dating.

Josh (left) and Emily (right) in the lab annex.

Until today, Eduardo Luna was also in the lab, working with cores from Kamchatka and Alaska. He has also been our resident expert in Adobe Illustrator for producing figures to explain our research — which is very important work.

The final member of our lab right now is me, Brandon Bell. I’ve been working to design this new website for the Tree Ring Lab, with the help of Dr. Breitenbucher, who is the director of Educational Technology at the College. My work station is actually in the center of the photo above.

Yesterday, however, we all went out to do what the Tree Ring Lab does best — core and date trees. We went to the Wayne County Historical Society on Bowman Ave. in order to core two bald cypress trees in front of the Beall House. We were asked to find their date for the Historical Society and for the City of Wooster — the latter is preparing a publication on old or significant trees in the city.

Seeing them for the first time, we were impressed at just how large they were in diameter — although only the tree rings themselves can tell us the tree’s actual age.

The two bald cypress trees in front of the Beall House, with Josh Charlton to the left.

The trees themselves were quite difficult to core. We had to use our longer, blue-colored cores due to the larger diameter of these trees. At one point, we even had to climb on a ladder to get cores from higher on the tree. As it turns out, these particular trees had rot near the base, which made it hard to find a core we could use to date the trees.

Eduardo Luna coring near the base of the of the bald cypress trees, with Brandon Bell (L) and Emily Randall (R) behind him.

Overall, though, it was nice to get out of the lab and core. The lab will examine the cores we collected yesterday in the near future.

All of us standing in front of the Beall House — (L to R) Josh Charlton, Brandon Bell, Emily Randall, Nick Wiesenberg, and Eduardo Luna.

In the coming weeks, all of us are going on research trips for Geology — In fact, Eduardo just left for Utah. Emily will also be going to Utah in a couple of weeks, and Josh will join Dr. Wiles and Nick Wiesenberg for research in Alaska. I’ll leave next Tuesday for San Francisco, California for my Independent Study research.

Despite this, it looks like it will be a full summer of research for the Tree Ring Lab. I’ve heard that, after we are gone in late June, another crew of students will come to the Tree Ring Lab to take our places in July. Stay tuned for the next updates on this research, and the launch of our new website.

 

 

Dating the Tracy House (Apple Creek, OH)

Climate Change 2017 is pleased to have been asked to date the Tracy House, Apple Creek Ohio. The log house/cabin is now stored in the soon to be Apple Creek Community Center and Library will be reassembled this coming summer. The date is unambiguous and most of the timber was cut after the growing season of 1826 and it is likely that the house was originally constructed in 1827, one of the first to be built in the East Union Township. A copy of our report can be found here.

Maddie cores an old growth living tree to help assemble a calendar dated tree ring chronology.
Dean extracts a core from a beam of the Tracy House under the watchful eye of Annette – the TA, as Conner looks on.
Extracting a core being careful to preserve the outer ring of the core (don’t bend the extractor John).
Another successful core extracted.

Originally posted to the Wooster Geologists blog.