Saturday, November 17, 2007

Historic Photos of a Different Kind

For your viewing pleasure, I present you with photographs of the 1960s excavations of the Port Tobacco Courthouse and the St. Charles Hotel. As I was not present, or even alive, when these excavations occurred, my narration will be minimal.

This appears to be the removal of courthouse rubble.

Exposed foundations within the courthouse.

Apparently artifacts of Native American origin were found.

Excavation within the cellar of the St. Charles Hotel. The cellar door of the Chimney House is visible in the background.


Friday, November 16, 2007

The Hotels of Port Tobacco

R.G. Barbour provides descriptions of the two hotels, the Centennial and the St. Charles, that served Port Tobacco in the late 1800s. His descriptions are as follows.

"Opened in 1876. George Hunt, its proprietor, names it in honor of the Centennial Exposition taking place at the same time. It was a comfortable place and a haven for the weary traveler. On "co't" days it accommodated throngs. All of the young bachelors of the village who had no homes dwelt here."

St. Charles
"The St. Charles hotel belonged to the Burch family in its last years. It was torn down in the 90's. It had 25 large bedrooms on the upper floor. The lower floor had a dining room that seated 200 people, a breakfast room, card room, bar room, double parlor, and kitchens. There was also a living room and bedroom for the proprietor. There was another bar room in the basement for the rough customers along with the servants quarters. The trees were very old aspens. This hotel contained the finest ballroom in Southern Maryland and all of the County balls were held here."

These differences in function and clientele should be quite apparent from the archaeological record of each property. The relatively young age of the Centennial (likely open for less than 20 years) and the fact that it was used as a boarding house too may complicate our analyses. While the extravagant artifacts of the St Charles should be easily differentiated from the domestic artifacts of neighboring properties, the more commonplace artifacts I'd expect to find at the Centennial may look a lot like those from the neighboring houses and whatever occupied the property before it.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Lab Update

So the past two days were spent at the Maryland Historical Trust lab and much work was accomplished. All the bagging of artifacts has been done and we have moved on to cataloging them.

To date 80% of the artifacts have been catalogued. While lab work is just that, work, it is also an opportunity to learn. Cataloguing requires the ability to differentiate between the different types of artifacts. Nails aren't just nails, there are different types...wire (modern), machine cut, and handwrought as well as others. What's the difference between whiteware, pearlware and creamware? These are some of the things we learn while working with the artifacts.

And of course there is always the artifacts that come up that we aren't sure what they are or how to classify them. The more people working on the catalog, the faster it goes and the better we can be at identifying the artifacts properly.

My plan is to get the catlog finished before the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and with the help of our volunteers I am confident that we can get it done.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hey, You Didn't Vote!

Please help us pick the best Port Tobacco archaeology pic!

The entrants are on Sunday's blog which you can get to here. Use the poll in the left hand column to cast your vote.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Happy Birthday Boss!

Just want to add my wishes of Happy Birthday to Dr. Gibb. Jim also gave me my first job in archaeology right out of school, which was just recently. He has been a wonderful boss and teacher in the short time that I have known him and look forward to learning everything he has to teach me. It is a great experience having him as my mentor and boss. Working on the Port Tobacco Archaeological Project has given me the opportunity to work with some great people on a site with great potential and I owe it to Jim.

So I say again, HAPPY BIRTHDAY JIM!!!


The Good Doctor

Today is the birthday of the illustrious Dr. James G. Gibb, founder of the Port Tobacco Archaeological Project and winner of the 2006 William B. Marye Award, which honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to Maryland archeology. Jim has made an outstanding contribution (or two) to all of us who have the pleasure of being involved in the Port Tobacco project. Personally, Jim gave me my first real archaeology job almost exactly 9 years ago. Since then Jim has been a mentor, a friend, and a general pain in my butt. We've worked together on many a project and I fear this trend may continue. I'm doomed. Doomed!

Happy Birthday Jim!


Happy Birthday, Fearless Leader

All great projects like the Port Tobacco project must have an individual that is the driving force. This person is the one who sacrifices their time and personal resources to see a great thing come to fruition. Jim Gibb has gently pushed this effort ahead with no personal gain in mind other than a true interest in the project. In the 5 years Jim and I have been associated, I have seen him do more gratis work than anyone I have ever known. Let's all take a moment to wish Jim a happy five-oh birthday and hope that his back holds out for a least a few more years. Happy Birthday Jim!!


Monday, November 12, 2007

Staffordshire Slipware

(Grigsby, 1993, p.47)

Originally I was going to blog about the piece of North Italian (also known as Pisan) Slipware. However, I need to do some research on it and show the pieces to some colleagues to get some other opinions on the piece. So instead of the Pisan, we are going to learn about Staffordshire Slipware.

The Staffordshire district in England has been making pottery for centuries. In fact there is a written reference to a potter there in 1348 (Grigsby, 1993). Slipware production started to build in the mid-seventeenth century up through the end of the eighteenth century with it starting to disappear in the colonies after the 1770's.

The slipwares from Staffordshire came in different styles which have shown up on American sites of the eighteenth Century. These styles are known as relief-decorated, trailed, combed, and marbled slipware.

The pottery coming out of Staffordshire was usually made with local materials and at first were sold locally until the mid-eighteenth century. They vary in style but the colors are the same throughout. A yellow or brown paste with differing shades of brown slips and glazes.

The decoration varied from potter to potter. The relief decorated styles had press molded designs of roulettes, royal figures, flora and fauna. Many had the date and either the name of the potter or the owner of the piece.

Trailed slipware from the area had patterns of elaborate geometric and floral patterns and were usually unsigned or dated. The process of trailing on slipware is an interesting one. At first glance it looks sloppy until you see the pattern of allowing the slip to trail off from where it was applied to form "peaks and valleys" of the different patterns.

These are just two of the examples of the different types of Staffordshire slipwares that have surfaced on excavations and in museums. I will talk more about the other kinds on another day.

The pictures above show pieces of a staffordshire slipware from Port Tobacco and a dish of the Staffordshire Trailed Slipware from the seventeenth century.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Help Us Pick the Best Port Tobacco Pic

The Society for Historical Archaeology holds a photo festival and competition during each annual meeting. I would like to submit an entry for the category of "Color Archaeological Fieldwork in Progress" from the Port Tobacco Project. Below are the photos I am considering. I would appreciate your help in selecting which one to submit. Use the poll in the left column to cast your vote. Polling closes the morning of the 26th to allow time to prepare the submission.