Saturday, September 13, 2008
The Charles County Garden Club invited us to present the exhibit in their hall at the fair, and I am very grateful for the invitation and their help in registering the exhibit at the Fair office. Bonnie Persinger did the initial design work and then partnered with Kathryn Burns of the Bridge Gallery in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, to complete the design. Ms Burns did a marvelous job of fabricating the final product.
Of course, the content of the exhibit was made possible by the hard work and contributions of members of the Charles County Archaeological Society and Archeological Society of Maryland, Cathy Hardy and Donna Dudley of Charles County Government, and donations from Ed and Lexy Edelen, Sheila Smith, the Southern Maryland Heritage Areas Consortium (Roslyn Racanello, Executive Director), and Preservation Maryland. We hope this is the first in a series of increasingly content rich, ambitious exhibits that engage the public in historical and environmental issues that resonate today.
PS. Yes, that is a red ribbon on the table to the right. The purpose wasn't to compete for awards, but what the hell...take the glory where you can.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Originally uploaded by Port Tobacco Archaeological Project
Yesterday I told you about Dr. William Wilmer. Above is a picture of his office as it looked in the 1970's. The building is no longer standing but remnants of it can be seen along Chapel Point Rd just north of an old barn and just south of the one room school house. It was this office that he left when he moved to Baltimore. Whether or not the office stayed in his possession after his move is something we haven't established. Some archival work on this property will help us fill in the gaps in the timeline of Dr. Wilmer.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Pouring through the census along with information gathered from the PT Times abstracts (Thank you Elsie) gives us a view of some of the things that happened to this particular citizen.
Starting with the 1860 census, he was a 30 year old physician in Port Tobacco and again in the 1870 census. According to the work Elsie has done, he moved to Baltimore between the 1870 and 1880 census with his brother.
Before he left though, he made his mark on the town and county as a physician as well as local politician. Here's a list of some of his achievements:
1860 - Treasurer Medical & Chirurgical Society
1866 - President, Charles County Board of School Commissioners
1867/68 - One of 2 white trustees for establishment of “colored” schools in Nanjemoy and Durham districts
1871 - elected to the House of Delegates
1874 - Dr. William R. Wilmer announces Republican candidacy for Congress
This is where some interesting things happened that kind of make me scratch my head and ask "what happened?"
Dec. 1874 - William R. Wilmer & Lemuel Wilmer and others "stricken from registration lists." (Were they removed from voter lists because they had moved to Baltimore sometime during the year?).
September 1877 - Republican convention: …Dr. Wilmer resigned
October 1877 - Dr. Wilmer has been transferred from the office of the Collector of Internal Revenue, 3rd Maryland District to Night Superintendent of Baltimore Post Office. [These were remunerative political appointments that would have gone to Republicans in the years after the Civil War and before implementation of civil service procedures and termination of the 'spoils system.']
1880 - William R. Wilmer (Wilmore) living with brother Lemuel & Lemuel’s family in Baltimore. William is listed as widowed and a P.O. clerk
1883 - Is Naval officer for Port of Baltimore – no mention of when appointed
Some interesting career changes over his life. He went from a physician, to politician, to Post Office Superintendent, to PO clerk, to a Naval officer. Why all the different changes in his life? What was his reason for leaving Port Tobacco? Political? His political career does not seemed to be very distinguished. These questions can't be answered easily but I'm sure there are answers out there. The small town of Port Tobacco sure has had its share of interesting residents throughout history, Dr. Wilmer included.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
One of the causes of the flooding and sedimentation is the loss of vegetation on the hillsides. Haitian colliers have cut down stands of trees to make charcoal, an important cooking fuel, and the more level portions of those once forested tracts are now in cultivation. Without that dense vegetation, the water runs unimpeded down the slopes and into cities and villages. With light and moderate rains, the amount of sedimentation is probably negligible, perhaps even unnoticed by residents; but heavy rainfall causes catastrophic destruction.
In some ways, recent events in Haiti illuminate Port Tobacco's past. Like the Haitians, Americans extensively cleared the Port Tobacco valley. The resulting sedimentation...gradual and catastrophic...filled the river and covered portions of the floodplain. In previous posts I've shown that a foot or more of gravelly sediment had been deposited within the town. Throughout the 20th century, much of the land in the area has reverted to forest, greatly reducing the movement of sediments. But there is still sedimentation on a smaller scale and it continues to choke the remaining open waters of the Port Tobacco River.
Our new traveling exhibit deals with these issues and the role of archaeology in studying the changing landscape over centuries and millennia. It debuts at the Charles County Fair this week...see you there.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Unit 13 East Wall Profile
Originally uploaded by Port Tobacco Archaeological Project
The updating of maps continues. This week I am focusing on the profile drawings and getting them digitized using AutoCAD. Some of the drawings are very simple which makes it easy to recreate them on the computer. However, some (like the one pictured below) of the drawings are more complicated. One of the challenges I have encountered is in trying to decipher the drawings. This is due to the lack of continuity from drawing to drawing. Not all the drawings are complete and they were not all drawn using the same parameters. Since there was not one person overseeing the drawing phase, it is making for a bit more difficult time interpreting them. Not a big problem, just a step we could have avoided and will avoid next time.
Here’s a sample profile drawing without descriptions of each level. I will still do some tweaking of the drawings in AutoCAD to make them easier to see and to read.
The process for creating these in AutoCAD is fairly simple. The drawings are first scanned onto the computer. Next, those scanned images are imported into the existing map. Then we just trace the image onto the map.
Now that seems simple enough, right? Well, it is. There are a few other steps that we must do, like scaling the drawing to size, but over all that is the process.
Once all the drawings are in AutoCAD, we can then put them together to get full profiles of units and continuous walls through several units. I will post some images of these to the flickr site once they are done.
Monday, September 8, 2008
The image that you see below is not a file, but a link to the Flickr site. If you click on the image, you will be automatically directed to that image on the Flickr site where you can see a larger view and have the ability to save the image to your own computer. (You might click on All Sizes when you get to that site.) There are no restrictions on these images, although--of course--we would like the project to be credited for any images used.
Edelen South Contours
Originally uploaded by Port Tobacco Archaeological ProjectPlease let us know if you have any difficulty with the process..it'll take a while to work out the bugs. We hope to further improve our images and videos with higher quality equipment...it's nothing we can't fix with a couple of thousand dollars...but we need to find a source for those funds.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Here's a URL link to the Act on the Maryland State Archives website that you can copy and paste:
For those unfamiliar with 17th-century English syntax, vocabulary, abbreviations, and non-standardized spelling, it is a bit challenging to read. I could parse it, but that would eliminate much of the fun and challenge of reading it. For those who haven't the time or patience, here's some highlights:
- For those who blaspheme, or who deny the existence of Christ or the Trinity and the unity of the Trinity, you are subject to execution and confiscation of all of your property. (That would mean that, unless other family members were willing to take them in, the perpetrator's spouse and children probably would have had to sell themselves into servitude.)
- Any decrying the Virgin Mother or the Apostles are subject to fines and, if unable to pay those fines, public whipping and imprisonment. The penalties increase with the second offense, and a third offense leads to confiscation of all property and exile.
- Anyone using religious epithets towards any other inhabitant also is subject to fines or physical punishment, the severity increasing with each offense.
- And those who fail to observe the Sabbath or who are drunk and/or riotous on the Sabbath will be similarly punished.
While it is true that none of the rights of Americans today are unqualified (e.g., you can't yell 'Fire!' in a movie theater and expect the First Amendment of the Constitution to protect you from prosecution and civil liability), it is also true that the rights we enjoy are the products of centuries of development. Democracy does not come ready made. Nor does it ship well.