History museum has artifacts from 13,000 years ago

Facility houses relics discovered by archaeologist Jeffrey Norcross

All smiles while holding some of the items on display at the Museum of American History near the Westville border in the township are intern Sierra Tung (left to right), archaeologist and curator Jeffrey Norcross, Chairman of the Board Brian Yates and Treasurer Barbara Norcross. ALBERT J. COUNTRYMAN Jr./The Sun

There is a Dalton Point resharpened as a knife from the Paleo Indian period of American history discovered by archaeologist Jeffrey Norcross at a Missouri River dig site. 

There are stemmed points found in Salem County from the early and middle Archaic periods, and a pestle, used to grind grain, from the late Archaic period that Norcross discovered in Pennsauken.

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These and many other artifacts the archaeologist has collected in his lifelong career are all on display at the Museum of American History in the township. Located on Andaloro Farm, less than a mile away from Westville Little League fields on Almonesson Road, the museum is open to the public Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“We are getting ready for the Deptford Township Fall Festival on Saturday, Oct. 8, from 1 to 7 p.m.,” said Norcross, who has been to some 159 archaeological sites across the United States.

“I was 8 years old when I found my first artifact,” he recalled. “I have always enjoyed fossil hunting. We opened the museum in 1993 and it was located in Berlin and then Glassboro before coming to Deptford Township. This is our sixth year here on 32 acres of the Andaloro Farm that the township preserved as open space.”

Looking out from the front door of the museum, the farm stretches all the way to Pennypack Creek, where Norcross conducts real-life student archaeology classes for youngsters 7 to 14.

“There is a chance they could not find anything, so they learn about the life of an archaeologist,” noted Norcross, who runs the museum with his wife, Barbara, intern Sierra Tung, and Chairman of the Museum Board Brian Yates.

“I am a history major, and I enjoy working here some much,” Tung said.

“I like the curator,” said Yates with a smile, referring to Norcross.

Among the artifacts at the two-story farmhouse are a gorget (piece of jewelry) from Salem County, and other items he found as a young boy in 1960 at his great grandfather’s brick yard in Maple Shade, and wood encased in clay he discovered in Riverside and Delanco. Also on display are relics Norcross spotted at the Dock Street site in Philadelphia, including ammunition shot from a British cannon and a 200-pound fire back that radiated heat out.

“Many of our American artifacts are from the early 20th century,” said Norcross, adding that the most important highlight of his career was opening the township history museum.

“I am able to undertake both historical and pre-Columbian excavations at Andaloro Farm,” he explained. “I work with students from elementary school through college, and it is an honor to preserve the agricultural history of both Deptford and southern New Jersey,” he said.

The Museum of American History is at 138 Andaloro Way, Deptford. For information, call the museum at (856) 812-1121 or go to sjmuseum@aol.com.

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