Monday, January 14, 2008

Smarter Principals

April and I have returned from the annual conference of the Society for Historical Archaeology, April to the frozen wastes of the north, me to the balmy clime of Southern Maryland. I think we both learned much and I expect to see some of that new found wealth of knowledge brought to bear on Port Tobacco. The theme of the conference was The Public Benefits of Historical Archaeology and I participated in two sessions dealing with those issues. Port Tobacco, a preeminently public archaeology project, will benefit.

While we were gone, our learned colleagues Pete and Scott expounded on several topics. I wanted to address one of those: Scott's piece on Barton W. Stone (1772-1844). Stone, you will recall, was born in Port Tobacco and went south to North Carolina to study under David Caldwell. As it happens, back in 1979 I think, I worked on the David Caldwell Log College site in Greensboro, North Carolina. This is the place where Caldwell lived in the very early 19th century and where he convened his school. Stanley South, one of the fathers of modern historical archaeology, had conducted an archaeological excavation there some years earlier.

We found the remains of his house and a variety of features, some jam-packed with bone. We even recovered a glass inset from a pair of cuff links. The inset had LIBERTY in raised letters on the back side. The letters were reversed so that when the glass was fixed to the cuff link (probably pewter or silver) the word and sentiment were clearly understood.

It's been a long time, and I don't think I ever saw the report, although I know there was one, so I don't have the details at hand. I recall from our historical research that Caldwell was a rabid anti-Catholic, supporting the exclusion of Catholics from public office. Barton Stone may have absorbed that prejudice. If so, it is well that he didn't bring them back to Port Tobacco...or did he?



Scott said...

Many of the folks at Port Tobacco were Catholic and, as we have seen previously, the citizens were not opposed to lynching and other clandestine approaches to justice. Perhaps Barton Stone was smart enough to realize where he came from and how his teachings may land him in a "tight spot".

Jim said...

Just the same, I'd like to know a little more about possible religious tensions, and of course racial and class tensions, in the town. Perhaps we will find some interesting leads in the local newspapers.