Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Unfound and the Expected

On Tuesday, April 8, from 7:30 to 9PM, the Charles County Archaeological Society will hold its second meeting at the Old Train Station in La Plata. There are two items on the agenda: formalizing the organization and its relationship to the Archeological Society of Maryland. That will involve a brief presentation of draft bylaws and a request for volunteers to fill the posts of the few officers that we will need. That done, I will give a presentation on early Colonial archaeological sites.

As I've noted in an earlier posting, many early Colonial buildings were constructed on wooden posts. These types of buildings, referred to as earthfast or post-in-ground architecture, have been found in St. Mary's City and a number of rural sites throughout the Chesapeake Bay region. They have not been definitively identified at Port Tobacco, although we may have found one last October in the field by the Port Tobacco River. I will present results of several of my excavations on such sites in the region by way of a tutorial on what we might expect and how we will have to deal with these kinds of buildings at Port Tobacco. Please join us.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Stuffed Ham, An Easter Treat

This entry should have been posted last week....

In Shomette's "Lost Towns of Tidewater Maryland" he describes daily life in 19th century Port Tobacco, identifying rolled French omelets and stuffed ham as local favorites. He quotes historian Ethel Roby Hayden regarding stuffed ham:

"Stuffed Ham," she noted, "an Easter treat, is ignored in Baltimore and nearly unknown further north, but for the Charles Countian it is a sorry Easter table where the red and green dish is not."

It just so happens that there is a recipe for stuffed ham on the internet that was penned by Mrs. Ed Edelen. The Edelen's are long time residents of Port Tobacco and friends of the Port Tobacco Archaeological Project. For all of us non-Charles Countians, take a look at this!

12 pounds Ham -- country cured
3 pounds Kale
3 pounds Watercress
2 pounds Cabbage -- green
1 bn Celery
1 Pepper -- hot red
6 tablespoons Salt
5 tablespoons Pepper -- black
2 tablespoons Pepper -- red
2 tablespoons Mustard seed
2 tablespoons Celery seed
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce

Choose a plump, thick ham with a thin layer of fat. Parboil 20 minutes. Steam and remove all skin. Cut greens in small pieces (1" to 1 1/2"). Chop celery and pepper fine. Blanch greens, celery and pepper in boiling water until limp; drain well. Add seasonings and mix. Cool ham until you can handle it comfortably. Starting at the butt end of the ham, cut three lengthwise slits, 2" long, all the way through. Second row--two slits. Third row--three slits, so that one slit for stuffing does not split into another. The ham is now ready to be stuffed. With your fingers, push the seasoned greens into slits first from the top, then from underneath, until you can feel all the spaces have been filled. The remaining greens are banked over the top of the ham.

To keep the ham in shape, use a large square of clean cloth. Place ham, skin side up, on the cloth, fold the ends over tightly and pin. Return to ham boiler and simmer 15 minutes to the pound. Let cool for two hours in the pot liquor. Chill in refrigerator overnight, in its cloth.

Mrs. Edward J. Edelen Port Tobacco, MD The Hammond Harwood House Cookbook


Thursday, April 3, 2008

The New Edinburgh Plan

Reading through Shomette's "Lost Towns of Tidewater Maryland" this afternoon, I cam across this Port Tobacco related story that I had not yet heard.

"In 1771, [Port Tobacco] would receive something of a shock from a scheme parented by Father George Hunter, a Jesuit priest ensconced at St. Thomas Manor. Hunter announced that he had been requested, "for the convenience of the inhabitants of Charles County," to draw up plans for yet another new town. The site, he tactfully proposed, would be named Edenburgh, in honor of the popular current governor of Maryland, Robert Eden. A survey was carried out, undoubtedly at private expense, and a plan of the proposed town was produced. The handsomely executed colored plat showed a town situated around a public square upon which sat a courthouse, with streets running to it and to the river."

Sure sounds like the 1880s plat maps of Port Tobacco, doesn't it?

"The General Assembly ultimately refused the petition, but the rationale for its submission could not be denied. Nearly half a century later, during the demolition of the clerk's office near the center of the public square in Port Tobacco"...

Why is a clerk's office in the public square and could this have anything to do with the demolished structure we discovered in front of the courthouse in October?

..."Hunter's plan for "New Edinburgh," as it was later called, was rediscovered and erroneously believed to be a survey plat for the redevelopment of Port Tobacco itself. Though addressing the wrong town, the editor of the Port Tobacco Times, who was apparently familiar with the plat, correctly put his finger on the root cause for its instigation. "This shows," he wrote, "that the movement was seriously entertained in influential quarters, prompted, no doubt, by the rapid filling up of the creek and the fast growing destruction of the navigation at Port Tobacco. In my younger days I have heard many of our best men regret that the plan for removal did not succeed.""

So, was New Edinburgh really a plan to replace Port Tobacco with a new town at Chapel Point? If so, was this one of the reasons why the county did not attempt to dredge the river to deal with the siltation problem? How does this 1771 plat differ from the 1880s plat of Port Tobacco and does the 1880s plat represent a similar planned rebirth of Port Tobacco instead of a map of the actual town?



Wednesday, April 2, 2008

43th Annual Spring Symposium on Archeology

Hello all -

Just a reminder about the upcoming Spring Symposium. Here's a few details:

43th Annual Spring Symposium on Archeology
(Port Tobacco Founding Fathers in front of the Courthouse 1892)

Town-Founding in the Chesapeake
presented by the
Archeological Society of Maryland, Inc.
and the
Maryland Historical Trust Office of Archeology

Saturday, April 12, 2008, 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM
First Presbyterian Church
165 Duke of Gloucester Street
Annapolis, Maryland

$5.00 for members of the Archeological Society of Maryland/ $7.00 for non-members

This is a 2008 Maryland Archeology Month event. For information on archeology in Maryland or the Archeological Society of Maryland, Inc., visit our websites at and

Join a group of distinguished archeologists as they discuss the archeology of town founding including our own Dr. April M. Beisaw as she discusses the founding and refounding of Port Tobacco.

For all the details (including times and topics) please visit the ASM website:

Hope to see you all there!

- Peter

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

And now, the rest of the story

Last week I spoke about Patrick Graham asking for mercy for his transgressions against the Resolves of the Continental Congress of 1775. Here are the facts leading up to his downfall.

Information being made to some of the members of the Committee of this County, on Monday, the 29th of May, that certain persons had imported, and were privately selling goods in a daring and direct violation of the Continental Association, a meeting of the Committee was immediately called, and but few members attending, a general meeting was publickly requested this day, when a very full and respectable number attended at the Court-House, in Port-Tobacco, to make inquiry into this affair; and it was clearly and satisfactorily proved, that a certain John Baillie, who last May came a passenger in the Ship Lady Margaret, Captain William Noble, from Scotland, had brought sundry Dry Goods with him, which appeared, by the testimony of Baillie and Patrick Graham, living in Port-Tobacco, to have been put on board and landed without the consent or knowledge of the Captain, though Baillie swore that Captain Noble knew of his having goods on board the ship when he arrived in Wicomico. It also appeared that Baillie, when he put these goods on board the ship in Scotland, knew of the Continental Association, and that Patrick Graham, in a secret manner, did assist and aid him in taking them from on board the ship, and did privately lake them into his house, and secretly sell a part thereof, for his own and Baillie’s interest, to several people in this County, without letting them know the circumstances under which they were imported. Whereupon the Committee Resolved, That the said John Baillie and Patrick Graham, for their infamous conduct, ought to be publickly known and held up as foes to the rights of British America, and universally contemned as the enemies of American liberty; and that every person ought henceforth to break off all dealings with the said John Baillie and Patrick Graham; and as the ship which brought the goods had sailed, and there being no opportunity of shipping and sending them hack to Britain, the Committee further
Resolved, That such of the goods as are unsold, or can be collected from the purchasers, shall be stored with and kept by Mr. Zephaniah Turner, until, and twelve months after a general importation is agreed on by the Continental Congress; and that, where any of the goods which may have been sold cannot be collected, the said Graham shall deposite the amount of the sales thereof, in cash, to be kept with the goods stored; the whole at the risk of the owners. Published by order of the Committee:

I haven't found anything on this Baillie fella yet, but I'll keep my eyes open for him.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Photography in Port Tobacco

As I was sitting here today thinking about our blog and our work, I kept looking at the same things over and over. Those "things" I was looking at were the photographs. Are they interesting? Who took them? hmmm...who did take them? Some were done by us, some by visitors, newspapers, etc. But then I started to look at the older photographs, the ones from the 19th Century and early 20th Century and I thought about it some more.

Early in 2007 while still in school I worked on a museum exhibit focusing on the photography of late 19th Century techniques. This got me thinking about the ones taken of Port Tobacco during that time.

We must remember that not everyone was carrying around a cell phone with a camera on it like we do today. The equipment then was very cumbersome and a time consuming process. I looked at the Barbour map and noticed everything from hotels to a smithy to the shops that were in the town. What about a portrait studio? Surely as the county seat with so many different commercial opportunities there would have been a portrait studio, right? Not necessarily.

So who took these early photographs? Was there a portrait studio? Did one of the newspapers employ a photographer or have the equipment themselves? Was there a resident in the county or the town itself who was skilled in photography?

These are a few of the questions on the subject that would be interesting to learn about. We haven't done any research on the subject yet, but we will and we would love to know anything that anyone else knows on the subject too!

- Peter

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sharing Archaeology On The Web

One of the events that I attended at the SAA conference this week was a roundtable luncheon on sharing archaeology on the web. Our small group discussed what we were each doing, and planning to do, to help bring our projects to the public. Our moderator was Dr. Steve Black, editor of the Texas Beyond History website. One of the topics that we spent a lot of time discussing was the use of video on websites, something the Port Tobacco Archaeological Project has yet to do. There is a lot of archaeology video on the web, one example being the Archaeology Channel website, so we want to be sure we have something new to contribute before we begin that process. I think developing the wiki is more important right now but we may take video of the Archeological Society of Maryland Field Session at Port Tobacco, this June, as a first step in bringing another perspective of Port Tobacco to you.


Late Night Report from Vancouver

The Society for American Archaeology conference is winding down.
It's 11pm in Vancouver and Jim and I fly back to our respective homes tomorrow.

Today, I presented a paper entitled "Memory and Identity within Late Prehistoric Cultures of the Susquehanna Valley". It summarized a portion of my dissertation research on the Engelbert Site in New York State. Here I identified an unusual mortuary ritual that can be interpreted as either a Susquehannock claim to Iroquois ancestry or to the land that the Iroquois one controlled.

Tomorrow Jim will present a paper on Late Archaic sites in the Chesapeake.

When I get home it is time to start preparing my (Archeological Society of Maryland) Spring Symposium talk about Port Tobacco. It will take place on April 12th in Annapolis.