The Bowen's Prairie Historic Archaeological District lies between the north and south forks of the Maquoketa River in northeastern Jones County. Survey and test excavation in 1995 identified a number of nineteenth-century archaeological sites eligible to the National Register of Historic Places because of their significance to local and regional history, their association with important early residents, and their substantial archaeological remains. In order to recreate the story of early Jones County, a team of historic archaeologists gathers information from local residents, archival records, and the artifacts and structures found at five sites in the district. These five were selected because they cannot be avoided by the widening of U.S. Highway 151. They include one of the earliest homesteads in Jones County, portions of two early villages, a cheese factory, and a church. Excavation at each site concluded in September 2001. The discovery of once-existing structures, abundant artifacts, and bone and charred plant remains will help in reconstructing the lives of the first Euro-American settlers. While maps, deeds, newspapers, and census records may indicate the history of pioneer families, their professions, and their land transactions, learning about the nature of their everyday lives, standard of living, and interactions with the outside world is greatly aided by archaeological clues.
Archaeologists excavating in the Bowen's Prairie Archaeological District
1851 map Showing Bowen's Prairie
Bowen's Prairie Historic District overlaying 1875 map