Dendro as a historical tool

Henri Grissino-Mayer and his colleagues have been doing some neat work using tree ring dating as a historical tool – in this case to clear up who really built the buildings on the old McDonald Farm* in Virginia:

We found cutting dates for the collapsed cabin ranged from 1809 to 1810, making the likely builder Samuel Myers and not Joseph Anderson, who is currently given credit for its construction. The logs in the barn had cutting dates ranging from 1830–1831, confirming the 1830 construction date estimated by the historical documents and confirming the builder was Joseph Anderson. The logs from the standing cabin and smokehouse had cutting dates ranging between from 1838 and 1840, refining the “mid-19th century construction” listed in the register nomination. Furthermore, the nomination gave credit of the construction of these latter two structures also to Joseph Anderson, but the builder was actually John Gish who owned the farm from 1837 to 1845.

(I’ve got a chapter about Henri in my book, including a discussion of his fun work on violins)

* No, I’ve no idea if it’s that old McDonald’s farm.