Friday, October 2, 2009

James Swann House

In May Pete and a bunch of ASM volunteers devoted several days and a great deal of energy trying to find remains of the James Swann House in the hedgerow that separates the Compton and Jamison fields. They found some 18th-century material (not really what we were looking for, but welcome just the same) and a some 19th-century material, which is what we were looking for. We expected a lot more. Toward the end of the field session, Scott and I rummaged about the woods and found some brick rubble and artifacts, not 30 ft from where Pete and Company were digging. We decided that this likely was the Swann House.

Last week Anne and Kelley were processing material recently loaned to us by the Maryland Archaeological Laboratory...Becky Morehouse brought us two boxes of artifacts that Jerry Braley and members of the Southwestern Chapter of the Archeological Society of Maryland excavated and collected in the early 1970s. One bag had a small scrap of paper with a sketch map showing where the few artifacts in the bag had been found. The note indicated that the objects were collected on the surface near a brick foundation in the same area that Scott and I looked at in May. The foundation is no longer readily seen on the surface, but there can be no doubt that we were looking at the same place.

It is my intention to return to Port Tobacco this month to excavate some test units in the area of the surface rubble and expose a portion of the foundation, as well as collect a representative sample of artifacts, of this suspected African American inn dating to the middle of the 19th century. I will announce details next week.

Also, our staff person of the week spotlight will have to wait until next week when I can find a photograph of the camera-shy rascal.



Elsie said...

When was the Southwestern chapter of ASM active? What general geographic area did it cover?

Jim said...

I am wholly unfamiliar with the history of this once very active chapter of the Archeological Society of Maryland. There are some folks around who could enlighten: ASM past president Nancy Geasey and retired State Archaeologist Tyler Bastian.

Perhaps the most systematic approach is to go through past issues of the newsletter, ASM Ink, which are archived at the Maryland Historical Trust in Crownsville. I don't know if they have a set at the MAC lab.