Flannery O’Connor did not think her life story was of great interest.
That didn’t stop biographers from digging into the details of the great Georgia writer’s short but productive career.
This week archaeologists will also be digging into the O’Connor story, bringing shovels and metal detectors to Andalusia, the Baldwin County farm where O’Connor lived with her mother for the last 13 years of her life.
O’Connor wrote most of her work at the beef and dairy farm just outside Milledgeville, and the farm’s geography can be traced in her stories and novels.
But some things had changed by the time the farm and the farmhouse were donated to the Andalusia Foundation, and then to Georgia College & State University. Outbuildings and other structures had been torn down.
The archaeologists’ goals are modest. They want to determine the true location and the outlines of the pen where O’Connor kept her peafowl, and to do some exploration under what used to be the family garage/storage facility.
They will be at work Tuesday through Friday, and the public is invited to watch them dig, scrape and sift.
The garage was called the nail house, for reasons lost to history. “There’s no record of that, strangely enough,” said Matthew Davis, director of historic museums at the Milledgeville university. “I don’t know how the name came to be.”
The archaeologists will dig where the nail house used to stand. They hope to find “household minutiae, bottles, bits of this and that from the household, that would be enlightening,” said Davis.
Near the nail house they will look for pockets of darkened earth that might mark fence-post sites, providing the location of the peafowl enclosure.
Davis said he doesn’t expect to find a heretofore undiscovered Flannery O’Connor manuscript.
“I don’t think we will have a successful Al Capone’s vault situation here,” he joked, referring to a Geraldo Rivera news special that fizzled.
The goal, said Davis, is “to reveal a bit more about the day to day life in Andalusia. It’s not every day you get to see an active archaeological dig in the backyard.”
The four-day dig will be conducted by Southern Research, Historic Preservation Consultants.
Andalusia: Home of Flannery O’Connor, is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 2 to 4 p.m. Sundays. Tours of the farmhouse begin on the hour, with the last beginning at 4 p.m.; $7; $6 seniors and pre-booked groups; $2 students; free for children under 6; 2628 N Columbia St, Milledgeville, Ga., 31061; 478-445-8722; www.gcsu.edu/andalusia
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