NEXT MEETING: Wednesday, December 20, 2023, at 6:00PM: it's the GCAS annual holiday get-together at 2045 Memory Lane in Silver City! Our holiday custom is to have a potluck with a virtually nonexistent business meeting and no official program, followed by a white-elephant gift exchange and general holiday good times. Dress festively and bring your best holiday dish to share! (In order to offer our members a safe and comfortable experience the GCAS follows CDC and New Mexico Department of Health guidelines for indoor gatherings including masking, distancing, and vaccinations. We recommend all attendees follow the same.

NEXT FIELD TRIP: Sunday, December 3, 2023: our next field trip - GCAS members only - investigates the C-Bar Ranch area off of Highway 90. Meet at the car park just off of Hwy 90 in Tyrone in front of the US Post Office BEFORE 10:00 AM (this jumping-off spot is about 15-20 minutes’ drive from downtown Silver City but be mindful of possible delays due to Hwy 90 construction in downtown Silver City). The group will LEAVE FROM the Tyrone parking area at 10:00 AM sharp. Destinations: a shelter cave and beyond to a pictograph location. Leader Kyle Meredith explains that: “most vehicles should be able to drive to the site, although C-Bar Road is rough in spots. We encourage carpooling from the parking area in Tyrone to the site! From where our group will park on C-Bar Road it is a short walk to the shelter cave where we will see bedrock mortars and smoky ceilings. The hike to the pictographs is about one mile over some rough terrain and some easy trails. To see the pictographs it is necessary to do a little scrambling over rocks and boulders. Perhaps it’s not the season for rattlesnakes, but be aware that I have seen one on two different occasions.”

Jornada Research Institute - Projects and Trips

Generic flight-2.0Archaeologist Dave Greenwald of the Jornada Research Institute checks in with the latest action in the Jornada-Mogollon region. He reports that:

weekend excavations at Cornelius Locus are suspended until next Spring. In November, the JRI will organize excavations at Creekside Village, scheduling TBA. Expect some lab days when the JRI volunteers (like you!) will process (wash, sort re-bag) artifacts from Cornelius Locus and select samples for radiocarbon dating. Dave will provide specifics on these activities (where and when) in a future email to participants as well as to this here website.

Dave also sends updates on JRI's upcoming international tours*:

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The GCAS's Nancy Coinman Library

L to R  MGendron  one of Nancys sisters  MKM  Pete Crum  MEberhardtSaturday, October 14, 2023, was an auspicious day. We experienced a total solar eclipse. The Mimbres Culture Heritage Site hosted National Archaeology Day with features and events that included tours of the Mattocks archaeological site, hands-on activities for all ages, storytelling about a historic local homicide, and the always-fabulous GCAS used-book sale. The day's special VIPs included two professional archaeologists, Karl and Toni Laumbach; and members of two Apache families, the Leybas and the Rogelios, who attended in traditional Apache regalia to commemorate the 143d anniversary on October 14 of the death of Victorio, chief of the Warm Springs band of the Tchihendeh Apache. About 40 attendees heard Karl Laumbach give the afternoon's featured presentation, Hembrillo: an Apache Battlefield of the Victorio War, April 5, 6, and 7, 1880.

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Repost: A Grant We Can Use

Do any GCAS members have ideas for good community projects for us to pursue? We need to hear from you!

Tuesday, October 31, 2023,  is the DEADLINE for a special grant application the GCAS can use: The Site Steward Foundation is offering two $1,000 grant awards in 2023 to individuals and organizations for funding projects supporting the preservation, education, and research of archaeological and cultural resources in New Mexico. The purpose of the H. Wayne Nelson grant program is to encourage and support professionals, students, and volunteers in the fields of archaeology, anthropology, and cultural resource management. The grant application will be evaluated based on the project’s critical need and proposed outcome, including community impact, benefits, and feasibility.

We need motivated GCAS members to tell us how they would like our group to proceed to help our community.

The H. Wayne Nelson grant application deadline is October 31, 2023, with the grant award date by December 31, 2023. Please let the GCAS know how you can help move our group forward, and  email Gary Newgent to request a grant application form.

Thank you for helping!

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Help Us Move Forward

Magdalena B-WAnd now, a message from your GCAS president: WE NEED YOUR HELP! Please step up to fill one of the following upcoming vacancies so that the GCAS can keep moving forward with out programs and events. Email Marianne at [email protected] or call her at 772-529-2627 for details of the activity you aim to take on. It doesn't even have to be one of the following; use your imagination for how you want to contribute to the oldest continuously operating archaeological club in New Mexico!

No experience necessary for any position – we will show you the ropes and provide you with the materials you need to make it work:

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San Lorenzo Elementary Returns to WNMU Museum!

IMG_1800Last week, on September 29, the 4th and 5th grade classes at San Lorenzo Elementary School returned to the WNMU Museum for a special tour and workshop day. This was their second year in a row to visit the museum and the GCAS was happy to once again cover the cost of their bus transport and to volunteer to help the museum director and teachers make the day a success.

IMG_1805These young students first learned about the Mimbres and puebloan cultures from the museum director, Danni Romero herself. Then they got busy with a range of hands-on activities. They selected their favorite image from a Mimbres bowl on display, then were challenged to recreate it as their own sketch...

IMG_1801...They examined and sorted a table full of potsherds painted in the Reserve style located at sites in the Quemado, New Mexico area....


IMG_1803 IMG_1806...At yet another workshop station these students painted assorted images in their own designs -- but the results looked like the kind of fine imagery we see in pictographs and petroglyphs at sites throughout our region.

The GCAS will continue to support the industrious young folk at San Lorenzo Elementary and we look forward to making this a regular, annual event at the WNMU Museum. Thanks go to the museum staff, the teachers, the volunteers, and especially the students for having made this day a special one. We'll be all set next year to welcome the San Lo 4th-5th grade classes of 2024!

/s/ webmaster [All photos courtesy of Marilyn Gendron]

Grant Opportunity for GCAS To Pursue!

The Site Steward Foundation’s H. Wayne Nelson Grant Program is offering two $1,000 grant awards in 2023 to individuals and organizations for funding projects supporting the preservation, education, and research of archaeological and cultural resources in New Mexico. This grant program encourages and supports professionals, students, and volunteers in the fields of archaeology, anthropology, and cultural resource management. The grant application will be evaluated based on the project’s critical need and proposed outcome, including community impact, benefits, and feasibility. Application deadline is October 31, 2023, with the grant award date by December 31, 2023. Please email Gary Newgent to request a grant application form and contact the GCAS with your proposal!

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Reminder To Volunteer for GCAS Booth at Harvest Festival!

Saturday, 10/7/2023, 10AM-4PM, the Mimbres Valley Harvest Festival is soon coming to the San Lorenzo Elementary School, on Hwy 35 in San Lorenzo a short ways north of the junction with Hwy 152. We’re seeking 3 or 4 volunteers to help run the GCAS booth on Saturday & set up the booth on the Friday before (10/6).

No experience necessary!

We'll show you what to do!

Volunteer for a short time!

Volunteer all day!

Meet your community and share with them what the GCAS is all about!

Step up and email or telephone Marianne at [email protected] or 772-529-2627; or contact Marilyn Markel at [email protected] or 575-536-9337, with times that work best for you. Thank you for helping out!

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A Tribute to John Massey Fitch

Southwestern archaeologist Karl Laumbach was a longtime friend and colleague of John Fitch, who recently passed away. Karl has shared with us his special tribute to John Fitch's friendship and his achievements as an avocational archaeologist. Please scroll below to read Karl's remembrance of John Fitch's interesting and productive life:

John Massey Fitch

February 1, 1940 – August 21, 2023


John Massey Fitch passed away on August 21, 2023, at the age of 83. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on February 1, 1940, John grew up in El Paso, Texas. His father, Massey Lee Fitch, served with the U.S. Immigration Service. His mother, Elizabeth Anne (Harrison) Fitch was a teacher for the elementary schools of the Ysleta Independent School District. John began his life-long fascination with archaeology when he found his first pottery sherds while exploring the desert with his father.

John enjoyed his school years and particularly remembered his 7th grade teacher’s axiom, “Well begun is half done.” John did nothing by half measures. He was always “all in” on anything he committed to.

Excelling in writing during his high school years, he won the award for the best essay in the State of Texas his senior year. Traveling to Austin to receive his prize, he fondly remembered making the trip with Dr. Charles Leland Sonnichsen, a prolific author of books on the history and folklore of the American Southwest.

Following high school he entered Texas Western University (now the University of Texas at El Paso). He graduated with a Bachelors degree in Journalism. Upon graduation, John began the two years of service in the U.S. Army required by his commitment to the ROTC program at Texas Western. He was assigned to an Army Intelligence Division as a 2nd Lieutenant, where he served as an instructor in camera technique.

Completing his commitment to the U.S. Army, John returned to El Paso where he took a job as copy editor for the El Paso Herald Post. It was while he was so employed that he saw an advertisement from the Central Intelligence Agency. He applied and was accepted. His years with the CIA are cloaked in mystery, as one might imagine. We know that for at least two years John served as a liaison for official guests to the Space Command Center in Colorado Springs. Following that assignment, he was a Senior Intelligence Official in Washington, D.C., where he was involved in compiling data and subsequent production of the morning report to the President of the United States. John served in that capacity for four U.S. Presidents (Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.) Always an avid reader of history, John’s knowledge of world affairs was deep and varied.

Retiring from the CIA in 1995, John cast about for where he might retire. He very much wanted to revive his childhood interest in archaeology and so chose Las Cruces, New Mexico. He promptly became a member of the both the Doña Ana County and El Paso Archaeological Societies. John could always be depended to drive his four-wheel drive vehicle on whatever field trip was at hand.

In 1999, he joined the Doña Ana Archeological Society in helping Karl Laumbach of Human Systems Research prepare the Victorio Site at Cañada Alamosa for excavation. The following year he was a member of a second field effort that included the first deep excavations at the Pinnacle Ruin by Dr. Stephen Lekson.

From 2001 through 2011 and beyond, John was the official project photographer, taking thousands of images. John would carefully review the images and provided a detailed photo log when the season was over. He also participated in the laboratory effort associated with the project which included ceramic and lithic analysis as well as the processing of samples of all sorts. In addition to Cañada Alamosa, John participated in a number of projects for Human Systems Research, often as the project photographer. He made friends and interacted with a wide variety of Southwestern archaeologists, assisting in Jacob Sedig’s excavations at Woodrow Ruin and funding radiocarbon dates for sites in the Mimbres Valley. In 2006, John received the Richard A. Bice Award for Archaeological Achievement from the Archaeological Society of New Mexico.

John served as the project photographer for Katy Putsavage’s excavation at the Black Mountain site from 2010 to 2012. Beyond recording the excavations, John was skilled at capturing candid photos of the crew in the field, washing artifacts, and relaxing over a meal. John was fully committed to the project and the crew. When he wasn’t photographing the site and crew, he surveyed the site for diagnostic artifacts, kept the beer fridge stocked, and carted crew and equipment to and from the site. He was a valued member of the team.

An active member and supporter of the Archaeological Society of 'New Mexico, the Grant County Archaeological Society, the Archaeological Conservancy, and Archaeology Southwest, John took part in programs and tours offered by all of the above organizations as well as the Roads Scholar Program. He was also a regular attendee of local, regional, and, occasionally, national archaeological conferences.

John was never more at home than in the field, hiking to an archaeological site or driving the back roads in his 4X4. In many ways, he was able to live his fantasy while contributing almost 30 years of his life to the pursuit of Southwestern archaeology and history. He was a blessing to the field and we miss him.


Thank you for sharing this heartfelt tribute to John's life with us, Karl. John's passing leaves a void in our community that will be hard to fill.

Download Obituary John Massey Fitch

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