John Bansch was born in New Jersey and attended North Bergen High School. He studied engineering and computer science at Newark College of Engineering and afterwards moved to Virginia where he met and married his wife Alana. Over the years John worked in a multitude of professional positions; Computer Programmer Analyst; Data Processing Manager; Information Processing Director; and lastly as Senior Analyst Programmer for the Airline Pilots Association.
The couple moved to Lewes, Delaware in 2005. At that time a beach replenishment project had just begun which brought to the surface various items from an 18th century shipwreck. John and Alana spent many pleasant mornings scouring the beach for archaeological treasure and in due time found they had collected over 6,000 historic artifacts. It was decided to donate their accumulated collection to the state which in turn precipitated a meeting with the Delaware State Archaeologists… and… John was hooked on a new full time hobby. He quickly became actively involved in the Archaeological Society of Delaware (ASD), later serving as its president. He claims that when he moved to Lewes, “I didn’t even know how to spell the word archaeology.” Clearly an understatement! Luckily for the Historic Odessa Foundation Alana and John then moved to Odessa National located off of scenic Route 9 and just ‘down the road apiece’ from our museum!
It was fortuitous that in 2012 at a Delaware Mineral Show John met Betty Fisk, Historic Odessa Foundation Conservator. It was she who suggested that he contact the foundation about assisting them with a project to locate the old Corbit Tannery. He met with staff and joined our volunteer team the next day. John has been working diligently ever since, doing research in the HOF library, as well as other institutions around the region tirelessly looking for any information relating to the Corbit’s, the tannery, or the employees who worked there. He has examined materials related to prior archaeological digs on foundation property as well as other areas within the historic district. John and the HOF Archaeology Support Team , in cooperation with neighbors Jeanne and William Buckworth, has performed extensive field testing in pursuit of the actual tannery site. In addition, he has given talks about the tannery dig progress; setup a special archaeology exhibit in the HOF Visitor Center, highlighting artifacts from the Avery’s Rest Site near Rehoboth Bay; and during last year’s Community Open House set up an archaeology dig behind the Wilson-Warner House Stable open to visitor participation.
Currently, John is working toward producing a research report that will focus on the information he has learned about the Corbit Tannery and other industries that existed in Odessa from the 18th through the early 20th centuries. This new and valuable information will then be used as a training tool for HOF staff and docents, eventually being incorporated into the interpretation of the historic houses and the town.
John tells us, “I am hoping in the near future to be able to give a new lecture titled “The Lost Corbit Tannery – Found At Last!”
To join John Bansch and the Archaeology Support Team in search of the lost Corbit Tannery, contact the Historic Odessa Foundation at 302-378-4119, or P.O. Box 697 Odessa, DE 19730. John always welcomes new volunteers.