SPRING LAKE, Utah County -- Indiana Jones dodged darts, bullets and rolling boulders in the pursuit of legendary relics. The movie character made famous by Harrison Ford said his quests were driven by a desire to preserve important artifacts.

Marva Loy Eggett, too, loves history so much she's willing to dig for it. And like the fictional archaeologist, she believes items found in a dig where pioneers once lived should be in a museum.Eggett is part of a search about as homespun as the people who once lived and worked in the "Mud Castle," a pioneer home from the 1800s. Not only are the archaeologists amateurs, many of the them also are descendants of the people who built the early American house.

Archaeologist Charmaine Thompson said it is rare that descendants have the privilege of searching sites where their families, generations ago, planted roots.

"Not many people get that chance," she said.

Iris Johnson Holliman is descended of George W. Johnson, one of three brothers who lived there in the 1860s and 1870s.

The others were the Benjamin F. Johnson and Joseph E. Johnson families. Benjamin F. Johnson was a friend of Joseph Smith, the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Yet, while the site may tell the story of the Johnson families, it also tells a larger tale of what life was like on the Utah frontier.

"There's not a whole lot of archaeological work done on this period of Utah history" regarding day-to-day living, said Thompson, an archaeologist for the U.S. Forest Service.

While each Johnson brother and their polygamous families lived and worked in the villa near Spring Lake, the entire clan spent less than 20 years there before the family moved on.

A grid marks the ground where volunteers carefully sift through the dirt. Once completed, they will line the site with plastic, then fill it in again to prevent erosion and further damage.

The Mud Castle was built in 1859 when James Pace and James Butler built an adobe house on the road between Payson and Santaquin.

Two years later they sold it to Joseph E. Johnson, and an era of Johnson family ownership began when the adobe house became an adobe villa with residences and businesses added on to form one large two-story structure.

Each addition accommodated new businesses. It once housed a broom factory, leather tannery, silk factory, pharmacy, saddle shop, nursery and even a newspaper press where the family printed the first Utah farm newspaper, "The Farmer's Oracle."

The dig was started to salvage damage done by bottle hunters a couple of years ago, Thompson said.

"They did a lot of damage," she said, "but there were still a lot (of artifacts) left."

The bottle hunters dug out most of the cellar, leaving most of the foundation stones exposed. But history buffs at the dig have looked past the surface and found a lode of relics left behind when the adobe structure eventually collapsed in the 1900s.

They discovered that the site had also been used as a dump. The remnants of the pioneer family had to be separated from the other items.

A small museum in nearby Santaquin has expressed an interest in taking the collection, Thompson said. It will include photos of the dig and a record of where each piece was found.

Despite dealing with the effects of Parkinson's disease, Eggett's interest in the site is unrelenting.

Among the more notable finds were pieces of a doll's ceramic face. From those few pieces she had the doll reconstructed, complete with leather body similar to dolls in the late 19th century.

She believes the artifacts will paint a picture of pioneer life and how people in that era lived. The artifacts they find -- even the way they are lying when found -- speak from the dust.

"It will tell us what they had to do to eke out a living," she said.