Saturday, January 3, 2009

More on African American Cemetery

Scott and I returned to the field in Anne Arundel County today to record, among other things, the African American cemetery. We recorded, if memory serves, fourteen grave fossa and seventeen fieldstone markers. We haven't drafted the map yet, but many of the graves appear to fall into one of several rows.

The setting is remarkable: a rise above a deeply cut spring with a wide vista of fields and forest. Again, similar cemeteries likely occur throughout Charles County.

We'll post a drawing of the cemetery in the next day or two.


Friday, January 2, 2009

George and Hattie Wade Lot

One of Port Tobacco's prominent families--the Wades--of the late 19th century occupied a lot on the east side of Chapel Point Road. A land record refers to the house of George A. and Hattie S. Wade as a "colonial dwelling," which I think we can take to mean an early house. "Colonial" often was used to refer to buildings that did not necessarily date to the period preceding our nation's independence, but might have been built at the end of the 18th or beginning of the 19th century.

George and Hattie Wade's house appear to have been one of a series of fairly elegant houses that once lined the east side of the road and that were occupied by merchants and physicians. Collectively, they may have constituted a small neighborhood, occupationally or financially distinguished from other parts of town. One of the goals of the PTAP team is to look for and document the changing organization of the town in terms of distinctive neighborhoods.
Wade and Hamilton lots on the east side of Chapel Point Road, just north of the main road to the courthouse.

The property, now occupied by descendants of the Wades--the Compton family--has not been investigated archaeologically. I'll bet there are historic archaeological deposits around the existing house and that date to the early part of the 19th century, if not earlier.


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Doings Elsewhere

The crew (me, Scott, Pete, and Dio) are working on a project in a different county this week and not on Port Tobacco. One bit of news, however, is that we found a probable African American cemetery in this new project area. I say African American because is consists of rows of shallow depressions (grave fossa), some of the depressions having a piece of fieldstone at one or both ends.

We find these kinds of cemeteries throughout Southern Maryland and, almost invariably, they are associated with post-emancipation African American communities. Undoubtedly there are many in the Port Tobacco area. Unfortunately, even to the practiced eye (and we had several pairs working on this one), they are difficult to find. I'll try to post a map of the site once we have collected some field measurements. This cemetery lies outside of the proposed construction area. Many no doubt are destroyed by construction each year simply because they are 'unmarked,' which is to say they lack the clearly recognizable carved stones with which we are all familiar.


Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Van Vranken Lot

On the east side of Chapel Point Road, across from what most people think of as Port Tobacco, there were a series of parcels that were part of the town. These include the "colonial" dwelling occupied by George A. and Hattie S. Wade, the van Vranken (often misspelled Van Branklyn) lot, and, farther to the south, the Hamilton and Hutton lots.

Reconstructed plat of Frank and Mary Ann Wade's property indicating neighboring past property owners.

These lots included storehouses, dwellings, and a variety of outbuildings. Although on the east edge of town, bordering the Chandler's Hope farm to the east, these were still very much a part of Port Tobacco. Some of the town's preeminent citizens lived on these lots and we are having considerable success in sorting them all out and placing them on current maps.

We have not investigated anything east of Chapel Point Road, nor have we any plans to do so in the near future. There are just too many other things to do and too few resources with which to do them. The PTAP team will forge on into the new year with whatever resources we can beg, borrow, or find. Happy New Year to all of our readers and supporters.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Progress with Plats posting yesterday. We were involved in another project and my evening researches were inconclusive. Today, however, I connected a number of mid-19th century lots on the east side of Chapel Point Road. We have good chains of title for several merchants and physicians, specifically for the lots of Dr. Bennett Neale, Griffin Carter, John Hamilton, and William Boswell.

A source of data that we have not yet examined, but are nearly ready to do so, are the Orphan's Court/Probate records. These often provide details of ownership, tenancy, buildings, and landuse that are overlooked in land conveyances.


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Lot Research Update

Just a quick update on the town lot research. The way the data are falling out, it looks like we will have two, and possibly three subsets: the original lots and owners, lots and owners from the mid-18th century through the 1870s, and lots and tenants for the 1880s through the present.

It looks like ownership consolidated into relatively few hands during the 1880s and that pattern continued into the 20th century. Until we get most of the deed data into the database and start analyzing them, I can't be more specific. Hopefully, we will be able to link all of the deeds to specific lots for the entire period of 1724 (Chandlers Town lotting) to the present, despite radical changes in the configuration of lots.