Why are several of the features we found this summer in Port Tobacco at an angle to the Courthouse Lot?
While researching the Port Tobacco deeds and plats, I came across two old plats that might throw some light on the orientation of the lines of postholes and the orientation of the dwelling foundations that we found at Port Tobacco this summer. For anyone at the excavations it was quite obvious that they did not line up with the Courthouse.
First is the 1727 plat for land within Chandler Town on which the new Charles County courthouse and jail were to be built. The lot is almost a square, and the drawing itself is not that exciting. But the description says “beginning at a bonded Spanish Oak standing in or near the South fifteen degrees East line of the said town”.
Second is the 1722 Patent Certificate of William Chandler for “Addition to Chandler’s Hope”. The description starts “beginning at an ancient bounded White Oake standing near a Great Marsh and Ashen Swamp by the side of the Nanjemoy Road in the line of Chandler Town”. The line of Chandler Town is shown as a dotted line across the marsh to indicate this line was not measured but had been drawn ‘back to the beginning’. This plat covers 180 acres but we are only interested in this northern part.
I always like to try to get some visual perspective. So I have overlaid the plats over the Port Tobacco landscape. This is only approximate, but I find it informative.
In the area southwest of the Courthouse I have found some lots that orient with the S15oE Chandler Town line mentioned in the Courthouse plat and other lots that orient with the N38oW line that is south of the dotted line on the Chandlers Hope Addition plat. The orientations of the lots do not necessarily match exactly. But taking into account all the sources for variations in measurement as well as the different ways to specify which direction is north, they are close. So the posthole lines could be in a lot with one of those orientations, or they could have existed in Chandler Town before Charles Town (commonly known as Port Tobacco) was laid out. The Chandler Town Addition plat indicated that the existing improvements on the land of 180 acres consisted of 1 house, 2 tobacco barns and a lot of fencing
However, all of the lots east of the Courthouse are in line with the Courthouse. And yet we found a foundation east of the Courthouse that did not align with the Courthouse.
I am looking forward to finding out the orientation of what we found and to see if the information in these two plats can help explain those orientations.