Using Tree-Ring Growth Patterns to Date the Construction of a Nineteenth Century Dogtrot House in Posey County, Indiana
Dendroarchaeology is a sub-field of dendrochronology (tree-ring science) that deals with the sampling of historically constructed buildings to tap the tree-ring information found within their timbers. Dendroarchaeological studies provide an accurate and reliable means of determining the construction date of a building through a process called crossdating (matching the pattern of small and large tree rings in samples with unknown dates to samples with rings of known age). Crossdating is a highly reliable method for dating wood of unknown age, and dendroarchaeological techniques have proven to be powerful and effective research tools. The goal of this investigation was to provide a possible construction date for the Grayson dogtrot house located in a museum setting in New Harmony, Indiana. Dogtrots are a type of folk housing popular throughout the southern United States, but rare in Indiana. Tree-ring analysis of the tulip poplar timbers in the house suggests that it was built after the initiation of the 1852 growing season, and the results of this study will be used in the interpretation of this unique architectural resource.