Thursday, September 3, 2009

Widow's Venture

About a week ago Carol sent me a reference to a pair of lots in Port Tobacco. It wasn't clear to me that they were in Port Tobacco. The recording clerk omitted reference to the town...they could, for example, be located in Benedict. But the patent certificate (N0. 508) does mention John Chandler and he is inextricably tied to the lots of Port Tobacco. The resurvey was undertaken for Jannette Kinswan who held a life estate in the property after her husband's death. After her death, the property was supposed to escheat (legally revert) to Lord Baltimore.

This document is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, it establishes the relative positions of three lots: 46 (the northernmost), 45, and 38. The juxtaposition of Lots 38 and 45 has ramifications for locating the Indian King Hotel.

Second, the resurvey for which the patent certificate was issued provides details about what was on the lots when they were surveyed on January 22, 1763. That description reads as follows:

The above is very good ground and have on them the following Improvements; Vizt., on Lott No 38 part of an outhouse [unspecified heated building, not a privy] that is 22 ft long and 18 ft wide with a brick Chimney and 300 ft of very old rough pailing [picture a picket fence]--on Lott No 45 the remaining part of the above Out house, also one dwelling house 30 ft long and 28 ft wide with 2 brick chimneys, 4 rooms and a passage below (no Inside work done above stairs), two sash windows, a shed along one end of said house 14 ft wide with a small brick chimney the whole much out of repair; Kitchen 28 ft long and 16 ft wide with a brick Chimney and 2 12 ft square meat houses.

The description indicates an unfinished, but deteriorating dwelling with a heated outbuilding, kitchen building, and other outbuildings. The dwelling appears to have been a 1-1/2 Georgian style house with a central door and passage and symmetrically paired rooms on each side of that passage. The "Outhouse" straddled the lot line indicating that lots 38 and 45 had been paired for some years. We haven't yet integrated this new information into our graphical model of the town, although Carol certainly has been working on it.

Archaeologists often undertake sophisticated analyses to determine the functions of the buildings that they find. If a document like Patent Certificate 508 can be accurately placed on the ground, we should be able to determine with greater confidence the functions and dates of the buildings we find.


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