Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Spring Symposium

There was an excellent turnout for the Spring Symposium today. I don't have the offical count but I believe Stephen Isreal and I set up nearly 70 chairs at 8am and when I was giving my talk at 2:30pm there was barely a free chair plus people were lining the benches along the walls.

The day started with some awards.

And moved right into presentations on the archaeology of several Maryland towns.

At the lunch break, participants wandered the streets of Annapolis to see some ongoing Archaeology in Annapolis excavations and view the new Seeking Liberty museum exhibit.

After lunch most participants returned for more talks.

As usual, there are no pictures of me. Why? It is simple. I take all the pictures. So, that brings me to a request. If you are handy with a camera (for still photos or videos) and visit Port Tobacco when the PTAP team is working (or come to one of our Port Tobacco events elsewhere) please take some footage and send it to us. Consider this request the pile of disposable cameras on the table at a wedding reception. We want to see how you see us. Then maybe, just maybe mind you, I will have my picture on the blog too! :)


Friday, April 11, 2008

A Day of Preparations

I spent the day on the road, driving from Binghamton, NY, to Annapolis, MD (with a quick side trip to NJ). Tomorrow is the ASM Spring Symposium in Annapolis, at which I am giving a presentation on Port Tobacco. Jim spent the day setting up for the Symposium and everything seems ready to go. If you want to come see the show, details are here.

I will take some pictures of the event and post them with tomorrow's blog. It may be a late evening post, like today, for obvious reasons, but I'll get it up before retiring for the night.

It has been awhile since I have been in Maryland so there is lots to do after tomorrow. Most importantly, during this week Jim and I need to come up with a detailed plan for the ASM field session at Port Tobacco, to take place this June. As always, if you have any suggestions or comments, feel free to contact us through the Staff links in the left hand column of the blog.

That's all for tonight.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Port Tobacco Wheelwrights

Scott extracted the following men from the census data that Carol compiled (this is a team sport), all of whom were engaged in the manufacture or repair of wheeled vehicles. George Atzerodt and his brother do not appear among them, even though they ran a carriage shop in Port Tobacco during the 1860s.
Edward Wade, wheelwright
James Coombs, blacksmith
Washington Pye, blacksmith

Washington Pye, blacksmith
BF Robbins, harness maker
CE Wade, wheelwright
Ralph H. Way, carriage maker

Griffin Carter, wheelwright
Rufus Vincent, carriage maker
John E. Daly, carriage maker

Griffin Carter, wheelwright

Michael Martin, wheelwright

We'll find them.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

News Flash!

WASHINGTON. Deputy Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett, along with Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Chairman John L Nau III, announced Monday 43 Preserve America grants in 25 states totaling $2.9 million. Charles County was one of the recipients. The Deputy Secretary made the announcement on behalf of Mrs. Laura Bush, Honorary Chair of Preserve America. Preserve America is a White House initiative that encourages and supports community efforts to preserve and enjoy our nation’s heritage. Here are the specifics of the award:

Conspiracy! Port Tobacco and the Plot to Assassinate President Lincoln
Charles County, Maryland
Charles County will collect information through detailed archival and archaeological research on the setting in which conspirators planned the abduction and assassination of President Lincoln, Vice President Johnson, and Secretary Seward in March 1865. The final report will provide vital information for interpretation, nomination and possible acquisition of properties in Port Tobacco related to this nationally significant event in American history.

This is the first major grant awarded to the Port Tobacco Archaeological Project, and it is important not only for its size, but for the stature it gives the project. Preserve America is a highly competitive granting program.

The Preserve America grant program, which began in 2006, is administered by the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service in partnership with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. The competitive matching grants fund Preserve America Communities, State Historic Preservation Offices, and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices to support their preservation efforts through heritage tourism, education, and historic preservation planning.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Contees of Port Tobacco

Previously in this blog, we talked about Mulberry Grove, the birthplace of John Hanson, which is just outside Port Tobacco. We also discussed the family cemetery in which Robert Fergusson and his extended family are buried. At some point, Fergusson bought Mulberry Grove from Hanson and continued the use of the graveyard.

There has been much discussion and speculation about where John Hanson and his wife are buried. We know that two of Hanson’s children are buried there and one tomb on the site was thought to be that of Jane Contee Hanson. Closer inspection of the tomb shows that it is the burial spot of Peter Contee.

Let’s take a few minutes and see just who the Contees are.

Peter Contee was Jane Contee Hanson’s brother. As Peter was never married and had no children, we must assume that at the time of his passing, he was residing with John and Jane. He was the son of Alexander and Jane Brook Contee. He was born in Prince George’s County in 1726 and died at Mulberry Grove in 1768.

Peter had a brother named Col. Thomas Contee whose son Benjamin (1755-1815) played a role in the American Revolution and was active at Port Tobacco. After the War, Benjamin became an Episcopal minister and was rector for the Port Tobacco parish. He was also once charged with tampering with the US mail, but was aquitted. Benjamin resided briefly in the mid 1790's at “Blenheim”. At the time of his death he was living at the glebe house of Trinity Parish near Allen’s Fresh. Benjamin and his wife, were more than likely interred in the Contee cemetery at “Locust Hill” just outside Port Tobacco, which has been destroyed. If not there, than they were buried in the original Christ Church cemetery in Port Tobacco, which is now covered by swamp.

That last statement has me intrigued. I also read something recently that some kayakers in the area reported seeing submerged tombstones. Finding this lost cemetery would be personally, very rewarding.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The John Wilkes Booth Route

We have discussed John Wilkes Booth on the blog before but I wanted to add this because I think it might be an interesting trip for anyone interested in Civil War history and the trips you can take. I found (on the web) several photo journals of folks who have taken this route as a driving history-type tour. So I thought I'd share the route with everyone.

Stay tuned as Jim has some exciting news concerning our work at Port Tobacco!
- Peter

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Planning the Field Session

Later this week, I will begin my regular pilgrimage to Maryland in support of the Port Tobacco Archaeological Project. On Saturday, I will be speaking at the ASM Spring Symposium. On Sunday, Jim and I will hash out the details of the Port Tobacco Wiki. For the rest of my visit we will be planning the ASM Field Session for Port Tobacco.

As Director of Research, I have come up with my own plan for the 11 days of excavation that will comprise our half of the ASM field session. This plan includes the excavation of units in three areas of the town: 1) The Wade house and Centennial Hotel, 2) The Jail, and 3) The Native American artifact cluster between the two.

My rationale for focusing on these areas is that they are 1) relatively close together, a necessity to keep from spreading the team too thin, 2) cover a range of time periods for the site, including Native American and 18th and 19th century occupations, 3) are near the nucleus of the town, and therefore should speak to the development of the town.

I also have specific research questions for each area. For example, what is the timing and extent of the Native American artifact cluster. Was this a habitation site? Was it disturbed by historic development of the town. Is this evidence of the Potopaco village?

The use of three areas will also allow us to move volunteer crews from one place to another during the construction of unit profiles and other tasks that require slow work by a small number of people.

Jim, as Managing Director, needs to consider all the logistics of my selections and decide if he agrees with the research value of these locations.

We are also planning a workshop and lecture series for the Field Session volunteers and a kick-off party. If you have any questions or suggestions concerning our field session, now is th time to let us know.