Friday, January 11, 2008

News of Yesterday and Today

This week I have been spending time at the Maryland Law Library searching through past issues of the Port Tobacco Times and of the Maryland Gazette. I have been looking for mentions of Port Tobacco itself and also of the Port Tobacco River. I found myself looking at the papers themselves however. It was interesting to see what people were reading about and what the newspapers thought they wanted to read about and it got me thinking about what we read in today's papers. So I started going through some of today's newspapers. A couple things caught my eye while doing this. Besides the wording and layout some things haven't changed much since the 18th and 19th centuries in the newspaper.

Some of the things that were written about 200 years ago are still written in our papers today. Election results, obituaries, land sales, and political conventions are a few of the same things we see today. I even found an advertisement in the Port Tobacco Times from April 30, 1869 in which you could send in 35 cents and get a description and picture of your future husband or wife along with the date of your marriage!

There were some interesting things in the papers that we don't see today as well. A couple that I thought were quite interesting were a list of letters left at the Port Tobacco Post Office waiting to be picked up, the names of delinquent taxpayers and warnings to tresspassers from individual land owners.

Information taken from archives such as the newspapers and will probates and land sales are just as important to an archaeological investigation as the excavation itself in the field. I've only scanned throught the Maryland Gazette starting in 1745 and there is another 150 years or so of issues to go through so stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Barton Stone

Believe it or not, Port Tobacco actually produced a man of religion. Barton Warren Stone was born in Port Tobacco in 1772 and was exposed to various religions during his upbringing. It is perhaps this reason that as he grew to an adult, he began to question some of the teachings of the Presbyterian faith. After going to Guilford Academy in North Carolina founded by David Caldwell, Stone became a minister himself. He found himself at odds with some of the teachings and doctrines so he started a new movement in Kentucky. Calling themselves simply Christians or Disciples of Christ, the movement spread rapidly and Stone is known today as a great Presbyterian reformer. He died at Hannibal, Missouri in 1844.
I wonder if he was related to Thomas Stone? I haven't seen anything to support it, but if someone out there wants to research it, let me know what you find and I will provide an update.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Updated Map

In early December we extended the grid north into the Chimney House and Stagg Hall properties. If you remember it was quite cold and wet those couple of days! While there we also did some testing around the area which we think is the location of George Atzerodt's carriage shop.

There is still more work to do in this part of town but I have updated the map of the area showing the shovel test pit's we excavated as well as Chimney House and Stagg Hall. As Jim has stated in a previous blog, we are expecting to get back out to this part of the town during the winter to continue our work. At that point we will continue to excavate around the two houses and map the back of the properties.

Our project is growing all the time and we look forward to getting back out in the field to continue our work. Even though winter is just upon us I can't wait for the warmth of the spring and summer so we can all get back out to Port Tobacco! Until then we will be focusing on the artifact analysis, grant writing and archival research.


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Thomas Stone

One of the more familiar names associated with Port Tobacco is Thomas Stone. Born in 1743 to a prominant familiy near Port Tobacco, Stone is most famous for his work on the committee that formed the Articles of Confederation and later became President of Congress in 1784.

Apparently, Stone was a ramblin' man. Deciding to become a lawyer (go figure), he rode for the circuit court between Port Tobacco, Annapolis, and Frederick. In 1768, he marrried Margaret Brown, daughter of the richest man in Charles County, Dr. Gustavis Brown. (Dr. Brown will be featured in a later blog.) Stone was a pacifist, but still voted in favor of drafting the Declaration of Independence. Opposed to going to war with Great Britain, he favored diplomatic negotiations. He was one of the signers of the Declaration.

Soon after his marriage, Stone purchased 400 acres near Port Tobacco and built his home Haberdeventure and he resided here throughout the Revolutionary War. The house stands today and is a museum to Stone's life. It is also on the National Register of Historic Places as are other places in and around Port Tobacco. On a local level, most younger people in Charles County recognize his name because the local high school is named after him. Thomas Stone died in Alexandria in 1787 just a few months after his wife passed. He was 44 years old.
While I have been able to find information on the most notorious and the most respected people associated with Port Tobacco and have blogged about them here, I'd like to appeal to the teeming millions of readers to suggest other subjects or people they would like to see featured on this blog.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Buckley Ware

(Jefferson Patterson Park Museum website )

Hello everyone! Time for another ceramic blog. Today we are going to go over the basics of a rare piece of pottery in the Chesapeake region. While it's use in England was seen over a span of about 200 years from the 17th to 19th Centuries, in the Chesapeake area it is only seen from about the 1720's to around the revolutionary war when it was heavily imported.

The Buckley ware is a lead glazed ware made of mixed red and yellow/white clay from the northwest region of England mainly near Wales and of course Buckley. The use of two clays tends to be more obvious on utilitarian pieces than on tablewares, which are more finely and completely mixed. The two different colored clays tend to give the paste a purplish look with swirling seen in the cross section. The Buckley wares are usually undecorated with a dark brown or black lead glaze. Some ribbing from manufacture can be seen on the exterior of the vessels. A red slip can usually be seen under the glaze. Most of the large utilitarian vessels also had very thick rims.

The forms of buckley ware were a wide variety but was mostly utilitarian ware in the form of large bowls and storage jars. Other forms of table ware were also made but most of the pieces found in the Chesapeake region are those of the large utilitarian types.
At Port Tobacco we have seen ceramics from different time periods including 18th and 19th Century pottery and Native American pottery as well. Buckley ware is one of those 18th Century types that we have found during our shovel testing. Several pieces of buckley ware have made their way into our collection. As with most of our artifacts, the pieces are small and don't show us enough to define the vessel it came from but with further excavations we might find some larger pieces.
The website at Jefferson Patterson Park Museum is a great tool for identifying and learning about many of the ceramics I have discussed on the blog. It is in fact where I get some of the information I use when I compose these blogs. Here is the website address:
Tomorrow I head to the Maryland Law Library to do some research and Jim and April will be headed to New Mexico. I will post some news this week on the research I am doing as well as an updated map of Port Tobacco!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Burch House Lives!

Restoration work on the Burch House is nearly complete and it looks marvelous. This is one of three surviving 18th-century buildings in Port Tobacco. I toured it several weeks ago and found it remarkably spacious and solid. It occurred to me, however, that we conducted archaeological investigations around the building but never really talked about what we found, apart from discussions of sedimentation in town. (There is a technical report on the work, but who reads technical reports?)

Burch House prior to restoration in 2006.

In November 2006, Scott and I dug 20 shovel tests around the Burch House, principally in the rear yard, and that is where we found the surprisingly deep archaeological deposits that we have since encountered throughout the southern part of town.

We also uncovered a brick pavement, at least three courses deep, and a brick foundation on the downstream side of the house.

Burch House and remains of addition.

We might have expected it because the 1960 redrawing of the 1942 Barbour map shows an addition in exactly this location. Why three courses of brick paving? Why was the addition removed? What does it date to and how was it used? All good questions. Hopefully, the team will have the opportunity to examine this structure and its associated deposits in the years ahead.