Tennessee Archaeologists Having a Technical Discussion in the Woods Long Ago
Left to Right: Carl Kuttruff, John Broster, and Brian Butler
Our Tennessee archaeology legend and friend, Dr. Carl Kuttruff, passed away on July 23, 2017, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Many people in Tennessee archaeology knew Carl much better than I did. However, I had several fond encounters with him. Carl worked for a number of years at the Tennessee Division of Archaeology in Nashville, Tennessee, and I first encountered Carl while he was leading the Vanderbilt University field school at Mound Bottom circa 1974.
My next encounter with Carl came in 1976 when I visited his massive excavations at the Fort Loudoun site in Monroe County, Tennessee. That was one really hot summer with no air conditioning and little shade. Carl and his field crew were occupying the old Carson House, a white, 19th century Victorian farmhouse located just off Highway 72S in Vonore, Tennessee. At the same time, our University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) Tellico Archaeology crew was occupying an old church camp a short walk down the road from the Carson house. Members of both crews visited with each other often that summer. During off hours, Carl and his crew members set up a volleyball net at the Carson House, and the two field crews had some lively volleyball matches that summer. How they had enough energy to play so much volleyball after long, sweltering summer days in the field was a monument to the enthusiasm of young archaeologists—and no doubt the socially lubricating powers of tequila.
Carl’s work at Fort Loudoun resulted in his now famous book entitled Fort Loudoun in Tennessee: 1756-1760, a comprehensive, thick, and quite heavy hard cover volume covering the history of the British colonial fort, its archaeology, replications, exhibits, and interpretations. A very small amount of human skeletal remains were found during Carl’s excavations at Fort Loudoun. He was kind enough to ask me to analyze them for him, and the results were included in this book.
My fondest remembrances of Carl go back to 1976-1977, or thereabouts, when Carl would make visits to UTK to give talks or conduct research. He often came on winter nights when it was frigid cold outside. Rather than spend a night at an expensive hotel, he would bring his backpack and sleeping bag with him. Dave McMahan and I were sharing a small dormitory room in Reese Hall (Presidential Court Complex) on campus. Carl would come by for a visit and ask if he could spend the night with us and sleep on the floor of our dormitory room. We were always glad to see Carl and welcome him into our room for some conversation and a good night’s rest after a long day.
An obituary for Carl was published recently in The Advocate, a local newspaper in Baton Rouge. Unfortunately, the last few words of his obituary were not published. We are not sure why. It may have been an editorial mistake or a decision forced by limited publication space. Whatever the case might be, you may read Carl’s obituary by clicking on the following safe link, and when you get there, please notice a clickable button that allows you to leave a personal message of condolence to the members of Carl’s family:
Carl was a nice person who I found to be kind, friendly, and easy to get along with. We will all miss Carl very much.
Photograph Credit: Tennessee Council for Professional Archaeology