Saturday, November 10, 2007
schedules of events.
Port Tobacco, as you have seen from previous postings on this blog, played a role in the American Civil War. Although not a main thrust of our current research, team members will periodically contribute pieces on the war that pertain directly to Port Tobacco. News from other projects will continue to be posted on other web pages.
Now read April's blog below.
Without the downtown port, lost to sediment that choked off the river one mile south of the town, the courthouse was the heart of Port Tobacco until fire claimed the central portion of the courthouse in 1892. The two wings of the building were left standing and in this photo their presence only draws the viewers attention to what has been lost. Between the courthouse wings we can make out the second story of the jailhouse which sat behind the courthouse. In the far left is the Episcopal Christ Church. In the far right is the Smoot House, a boarding house.
The destruction of Port Tobacco's courthouse solidified plans to relocate the county seat to nearby La Plata. A new courthouse and jail were constructed there. Not long afterwards, Port Tobacco's Christ Church was slowly dismantled and reconstructed in La Plata, there is reclaimed its place beside the Charles County courthouse. The heart of Port Tobacco was essentially transplanted into the body of La Plata.
Relocated Christ Church and new County Courthouse (1953).
Circa 1900 Jailhouse constructed behind the earlier version of the La Plata courthouse.
Friday, November 9, 2007
(Click image for larger view.)
The dark red lines to the right of the drawing illustrate the steep slopes east of town and the green arrows show the ravines through which water and sediment flowed into town. Fan deposits of alluvium appear at the bottoms of the ravines, and it takes little to imagine how those sediments buried earlier deposits.
The symbols on the map (e.g., WoA) represent soil types, the descriptions of which appear on the right side of the drawing. The Soil Conservation Service described the Woodstown soils as "somewhat gravelly" in 1974; but they were describing a general class of soil that appears all over Charles County, and the specifics of their description are for an area near Newtown, some miles to the east on Budd's Creek. The Woodstown sandy loams at Port Tobacco are very gravelly, probably because they derive from the eroded, gravelly soils of the adjoining uplands.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
See, blogs are easy to set up. The trick is in getting readers and in keeping them. As much as we enjoy talking about our research, it takes a bit of time and coordination to make sure we get a post up everyday. (Despite what Jim thinks, we didn't miss a post last week.) What makes this effort worth while is knowing that people are reading. (You are still reading, aren't you?).
If you haven't noticed already, the left hand side of the blog has some features that I added to help us keep track of site traffic and to help us improve the blog. The stats are fun to look at. I was thrilled when someone in Moscow spent 3.5 hours reading here but that doesn't tell me much about why that visitor came here or stayed so long. That is the purpose of the poll, also in the left hand column. Every 6 weeks or so I put up some of my new ideas for the blog and let the visitors vote so I know what you want to see...or don't want to see. Of course you can always leave a message after one of the posts or send one of us a message. Our e-mails are listed on our profile pages, also on the left hand column.
To get the word out about this blog I have added us to a slew of blog directories. These sites list us for free if we provide a link back to them, hence the long list of buttons near the bottom of the left column. Some of these sites allow visitors to vote for their favorite blogs or even rank the blogs. The more votes or the higher rank we get, the easier it is for people to find us.
Another way to spread the word about our blog is to become part of a blog carnival (who knew?). A blog carnival is like a magazine of blogs about a specific topic. There is only one archaeology blog carnival that I know of, it is called Four Stone Hearth, and we are featured in the latest issue. You can catch up on back issues of Four Stone Hearth here or read the most recent at the Sorting Out Science blog which is here.
For those of you who are dedicated readers, you might be interested in our feed. Since we do not post a blog at the same time every day, it may be easier to keep track of us through our Atom Feed, also in the left column. By subscribing to the feed you will be notified every time a new post is made. Most browsers (like Safari or Firefox) allow you to subscribe to feeds by clicking on the atom link and then bookmarking that page in the browser. Then when a new post is made here, your browser will show the number one next to our name in your bookmarks.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact us. We would like to see more comments being left here, after posts, just so everyone can feel like there is a community here. But, readers have been e-mailing Jim on a regular basis and that is fine too. We have to keep Jim busy.
That's all for now. Tomorrow's blog should be a lab update from the boys.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration maintains an on-line databse of major storms; however their records do not begin until the late 1800s. A search of the historical hurricane tracks show that one major hurricane passed right over Port Tobacco, the Chesapeake/Potomac Hurricane of 1933. By reviewing accounts of this storm's impact on the town we hope to get a better sense of the impact of earlier storms.
There are several accounts of this hurricane available on-line, many of which compare it to Hurricane Isabel of 2003. One account compared the effects of the two storms on one property in Maryland. One difference was that the 1933 storm deposited 3.5 feet of sediment!
Monday, November 5, 2007
Sunday, November 4, 2007
The purpose of my visit, however, was not strictly archaeological. Scott and I went there to assess the condition of the Hanson-Fergusson cemetery with an eye toward helping the current owner, Mr. Ed Edelen, restore it. We also share Mr. Edelen's interest in learning the fate of the mortal remains of John Hanson, the first President of the United States of America under the Articles of Confederation (1781-1782), before the adoption of our present constitution.
Fergusson monuments at Mulberry Grove.
John Hanson was born at Mulberry Grove in either 1715 or 1721 (we are not sure). Although he resided in Frederick County at the time of his death, he met his end at his nephew's home at Oxon Hill, Prince George's County, in 1783. He is reputed to have been buried at Oxon Hill, but there is no monument marking his grave there, in Frederick, or at Mulberry Grove. His wife Jane (nee Contee), however, was buried at Mulberry Grove upon her death in 1812, as are two of their infant children. Each of those three graves is marked by a ledger stone (a large, flat piece of marble placed horizontally on a brick foundation), and there is a space between Jane's monument and those of her two children. Furthermore, there is a depression in that space. Had someone dug a hole looking for a grave? or is the depression a grave, possibly that of John Hanson?
Scott and I are considering ways in which we can determine whether this is a grave without actually disturbing the grave. We also are considering measures to repair and plumb the rest of the monuments that mark the graves of Mulberry Grove's occupants. (Scott is certified in the repair of marble monuments and the two of us have worked on the documentation and restoration of several cemeteries in Maryland and Delaware.) While the search for John Hanson has its own particular interests and challenges, the search for cemeteries in the area will not end there. We know there is at least one cemetery at Port Tobacco buried beneath the silt, and I suspect there are others, and there are likely others at neighboring plantations. We are hoping to receive a grant that will allow us to purchase some of the advanced technologies that will improve our ability to locate and define cemeteries without necessarily excavating them. Keep fingers crossed.