William F Stiles from The Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation stayed with us while my parents were excavating a clay mound near Brown's landing. (Be sure to check out the photo he took of my mother working in the trench.) I wanted to know when they were going to find the gold. What did I know at thirteen? There always seemed to be lots of archaeologists staying with us or stopping by to check on my parents' latest discoveries of new sites, including Clemons de Bailou, Dr. A. R . Kelly, Rebeka Burgess, and Dave Phelps.
It's amazing how my parents could get a major museum to send William F Stiles to see the site they were excavating. In a letter written by the noted archaeologist Dr. A.R. Kelley, he writes "It's a curious coincidence that my friendship with doctors, and all surgeons at that, has been critical to serious work in different parts of Georgia during the past 25 years."
The following is excerpted from an April 30, 1968 Aiken Standard Article about Dr. Thomas and Betty Lattimore.
Col John A. May, who was recently reappointed to the President's Historical Preservation Commission graciously hosted a group on a tour of the grounds and the museum, which houses a wealth of historical and collector's treasures, and the rare finds of Dr. Lattimore on Indian culture.
Dr. Thomas J. Lattimore, who spoke on his hobby of collecting "Indian Artifacts,” started his collecting habit at the age of 9, which he continued in a more serious vein through high school. While in college he worked two summers with Dr. Kelley, archeologist for the state of Georgia, and three summers for the Museum of American Indians under the Heye Foundation, before South Carolina had a state archeologist. He spent most of his spare time over the years in testing Indian sites and mounds along the Savannah River in Edgefield and Aiken Counties, and in his talk stressed “South Carolina is one of the richest states in the union in unexplored resources and as of now, the state has not done a thing in this area in marking historical spots.”
Dr. Lattimore and his wife, Betty, have worked with professional archeologists on finds they have discovered in South Carolina and Georgia, which revealed the history of Indian people through sites, burial mounds and ceremonial mounds. He described the three Indian cultures of the area: the Archaic or shell-mound people who lived along the Savannah about 4000 B.C .; the Deptford, the most prevalent culture in the immediate area; and the pre-contact mound builders.
He told of finding evidence of one of the earliest Deptford structures in the Southeast at a site extending about one and a half miles along the creek that empties into the Savannah. Post moulds of a 2400-year-old wooden Indian hut were found. This site is the only true massive site of pure Deptford culture to have been found in the U.S.
The doctor credits his wife, Betty, for some of their rare finds in the past seven years.
The White’s Mound site in Richmond County, GA had cracked human long bones and skulls which were found around an Indian fire pit, apparently a ceremonial area. Dr. Lattimore said the bones and skulls had been cooked around the pit and that the bone marrow and brains probably had been eaten by the Indians. The bones were mixed with animal bones. Also, archeologists assume that the Westos, the cannibal group, migrated from Tennessee to this area.
Dr. Lattimore was asked how archeologists know where to start digging and he explained that quite often original Indian trails have become highways, and mounds may be found quite close to them, as well as along riverbanks.