Quates stays busy digging up bones
Published 6:22 am Wednesday, July 16, 2003
By By LYDIA GRIMES – Feature Writer
The exact location of Fort Crawford has been the subject of much debate and question over the past 187 years. Many have guessed and many have wondered just exactly where the fort would have been located. A former local resident has now stepped in to see what he can determine about the fort and also the settlements along the creeks, both Murder and Burnt Corn.
Duane Quates, formerly of the Ridge Road-East Brewton area, has brought his expertise and interest back to the area to try and make some educated guesses as to just where the fort was located along with finding locations of settlements.
Fort Crawford was established in 1816 on the orders of Major General Andrew Jackson with the purpose of monitoring the Spanish in West Florida and keeping tabs on the Indian population which was being incited by both the English and the Spanish to cause trouble in this part of the country. One has to remember that the area of Pensacola was a foreign country and needed watching.
The original idea of building Fort Crawford was to make it an outpost of the United States, but before the fort was even completed it became what Quates calls a "periphery" of Spain. This means that the inhabitants were involved in the rather unusual position of dealing with a foreign country more than they were with their own country. Crops grown at Fort Crawford and the surrounding area were floated down the creeks and rivers to be sold at the port of Pensacola. Goods needed at the fort were easier to get through the port than to be brought overland from the eastern shore of the United States.
This arrangement put Fort Crawford into an unusual position. Early forts were mainly established as outposts of the United States meaning that all trade and supplies were sent to and from the eastern states.
Quates believes that this means Fort Crawford was not just one of many forts, but one of unique importance in the growth of our country.
Quates is a student at Michigan State University studying for his PhD. in archeology. He is on an accelerated plan to go from his bachelor degree to getting his PhD. The plan calls for students to go, at the end of two years, either to the PhD program or the Masters plan.
Quates' academic advisor and chairman of the guidance committee is an expert in frontier archeology. He has been a big influence on Quates decision to be involved in the same type of archeology.
During the next few weeks, Quates will be doing research, some in the Escambia County Mapping and Appraisal Department and some in the field.
He has gained access to the names of landowners through the mapping department. Now he needs to be able to go on these lands to do his analysis.
He will spend the next couple of weeks gathering the information from the mapping department and calling to get permission to go on the private properties. After that he will go to the sites and gather information first hand. Quates uses a GPS receiver to pinpoint off a satellite. This tells him exactly where he is and he is able to return to the same spot when he needs to.
Sometime around July 21, Quates will go into the field to use the metal detectors to map the areas and that will continue until August 15.
When the work is done in the field, Quates will work on the samples that he finds and the paper he writes will be based on those findings.
Of course he would love to be able to pinpoint the exact location of Fort Crawford, but any additional information he is able to add to what has been published will be welcomed by both the community and the those who are interested in history and the preservation of historical sites.
Quates was born in Brewton and grew up on Ridge Road outside of East Brewton. He is the son of Larry and Ann Frazier Quates who still live in that area and the brother of Rick, Leighann, Jamie and a twin brother, Dwight.
He graduated from W.S. Neal High School in 1991 and ten days later he joined the U.S. Navy. He got involved in working on nuclear reactors on ships because his recruiter thought he would be good at it.
He was in the Navy for four years before coming home.
Quates met and married Rebecca who was from Michigan. One reason he chose the University of Michigan in which to get his PhD. was because it was her home state. She is a mechanical designer and they are the parents of one son, Ethan, who is three and one half. He works as a teaching assistant helping professors with students.
In what free time he has he likes to hunt and fish, although he admits that he has little free time these days. Maybe that will come when he is through with the project which he is working on.