Thursday, October 2, 2008

William Graham and “The Indians of Port Tobacco” – Part 1

Today is the first in a two part series relating to early 20th Century excavations along the Port Tobacco River authored by one of our volunteers, Carol Cowherd.

In addition to volunteering with the Port Tobacco Project, I also volunteer at the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum Support Center (MSC). At lunch one day I was told that there was a small collection from the Port Tobacco River at the MSC and that there was a paper associated with it. The paper was “The Indians of Port Tobacco River, Maryland, and Their Burial Places” by William J. Graham. The paper had been privately printed in 1935, and I found a copy of a copy. The paper is definitely worth reading. (This is the same paper referenced in the Jan 26, 2008 blog, “Native Americans at Warehouse Landing”.) Here is a brief overview of the Graham’s excavation sites on the Port Tobacco River. Graham designated them as the village sites.

Site 1 – mouth of river on east side (part of Causeen’s Manor) – decaying oyster shells, quartz and quartzite spalls, projectile points, grooved stone axes, considerable number of pottery sherds. Oyster shell deposits extend from water’s edge for 200-300 feet.

Site 2 – further north on west side of river from Deep Point to Fourth Point –oyster shells, broken and chipped quartzite rocks, considerable number of lithics including projectile points and hammer stones.

At Chapel Point --- heavy deposit of shells up to several feet deep. Artifacts and camp refuse was found intermingled with the shells

Site 3 –north of Fourth Point on an area of about twenty acres-–projectile points, broken pottery, lithics including perfect, broken and rejected stone artifacts. Remains of a disturbed burial site were found.

Site 4 – north of Site 3 on 3 to 4 acres that are part of Mulberry Grove farm--many artifacts including stone hoes, broken pottery, and spalls.

Site 5 – near Warehouse Point –large number of lithics including perfect examples, rejects, spalls, stoned grooved axes, and scrapers. Four burial sites were found.

Site 6 – west side of River across from Warehouse Point –projectile points, stone hammers and axes, pottery sherds.

Site 7 – south of Site 6 at Sims’ Point -- many artifacts including pottery sherds.

Site 8 – across the river from Chapel Point – oyster shell deposit that is a few inches to two feet deep and contains quartz and quartzite pieces and pottery sherds.

The paper contains pictures of the some of the artifacts. Excluding any artifacts found in the burials, Graham described some of the artifacts found. Smaller projectile points were mainly made of white quartz. Larger projectile points were mainly made of tan-colored, pink, or gray quartzite. There were sandstone rubbing stones, felsite pestles, sandstone or quartzite mortars, and quartzite hoes, fish line sinkers, and hammers. Pottery was quartz-tempered and usually was of the “outside basket or bark marked type”. He mentioned that there were a few fragments of English trade clay pipes. But he indicated there were no beads, shells, or copper relics found on the surface.

We sure would love to have a map of these sites to relate them to the town itself and also get a look at the artifacts that Graham found. Hopefully Carol's research at the MSC will produce some more interesting finds for us.

An overview of the burials Graham found will be in Part II.

- Peter blogging for Carol
- Thanks Carol!

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