Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Rev. Lemuel Wilmer's House Site

I was in the library of the Maryland Historical Trust today perusing archaeological reports for Charles County. Sadly, there aren't as many as there are for other counties like Prince George's and Anne Arundel (both review all development projects for possibly adverse effects on archaeological sites). But there are a few goods ones and, as technical reports, the contents go largely unnoticed by the community: there are likely to be fewer than a dozen copies in existence and there are few or no venues for their publication for general audiences.

One report by Jody Hopkins, Ann Persson and Adele Philippides (2005) documents limited archaeological testing of the Dobson property, a tract that lies directly across the road from Piney Branch church. Thirty shovel test pits and five excavation units exposed part of the house and recovered a large number of artifacts that belonged to the Rev. Lemuel Wilmer, long-time rector of Port Tobacco Parish and the subject of several blog postings . The artifacts should be housed at the Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum in St. Leonard (Calvert County). Hopefully at some point in the future I will arrange access to the collection, photograph some of the material, and include it with a summary of the archaeological findings documented in the report.

Port Tobacco will make a lot more sense not only as we continue to explore and interpret the place, but as we examine it in the larger contexts of county, state, and nation. Archaeological studies from throughout the area should provide a wealth of information that other people have already collected, processed, and documented in peer-reviewed reports. That material is waiting to be used.



mpdb said...

I'm late reading these and have not looked in older posts but why do you say Piney Branch Church? St. Pauls "Piney" Church was called Piney because it was in the pine woods. Piney Branch is a stream/creek that is part of the Mattawoman watershed on the west side of 301. "Piney" Church sits on the east side of 301. mpb

Jim said...

I stand corrected. I am guilty of what Winston Churchill called terminological inexactitude.

The church in question is St. Paul's Piney Episcopal Church on Piney Church Road on the south edge of St. Charles. It sits on a terrace above a tributary of Piney Branch which debouches into Zekiah Swamp. There is another Piney Branch that originates on the north side of St. Charles and drains into Mattawoman Creek. (Historical research isn't hard enough...we are plagued with identical names for different things.)

I'll remember to include a map next time I discuss such things.