Saturday, February 21, 2009

St. Nicholas Cemetery in the news

Sorry there was no blog yesterday. Jim, Peter, and I worked a small Phase I job in Prince George's County yesterday...nothing very exciting.

Some time ago, I was approached by Kim Upshaw, a reporter from The Tester, the weekly newspaper of the Patuxent River Naval Air Station. She had seen all the recent work we had done at St. Nicholas and asked what we were learning from our excavations. The first thing that occured to me was the large number of children's burials and how many of these children died within weeks and even days of each other. What became evident was the pandemics that swept the area at different times. For instance, there was an outbreak of Diphteria in 1882 and we saw several families whose children all died during that time. Indeed, in one case, six children from one family perished within 2 weeks of each other. A search of the local newspapers from the time talk about the disease being rampant and the large number of people succumbing to it. As is the case with many epidemics, the children and the elderly suffered the greatest losses.

Here is a link to the story.

The print edition shows Jim and I on the cover in a back breaking attempt to lever a large stone out of the ground.

Finding the buried stones at Port Tobacco would add a huge amount to our understanding of the people of the area. Did the same pandemics that devasted St. Mary's County also affect those in other areas? With names and dates from the stones, it would enable us to determine what diseases ran through Port Tobacco at different times and we could compare what we have learned at St. Nicholas to other areas.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Port Tobacco Visit

I spent the better part of today in Port Tobacco meeting with potential partners, scoping out cases for the incoming Lincoln memorabilia exhibit, and exploring part of what we hope will become part of the interpretive trail that eventually will run between Thomas Stone Historic Site and Chapel Point State Park, via Port Tobacco, a distance of some five miles.

It will take awhile to develop the partnerships and trail initiatives, so I don't have much to say about either. I think I found a case or two that can be temporarily re-tasked for the exhibit.

The search for a Union encampment was less successful, but I'll try again within a week.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Indian King Hotel Update

After looking at what Carol had come up with, I started looking at the data from the STP survey we did in 2007. At the time of our survey April had mentioned that the Barbour map shows the "Coombs Smithy" in the area of the Jamieson field (the one just west of Chapel Point Rd and just north of the Burch House). In that area, we found a good amount of slag and indeterminate metal, which is a good indication of metal working.

We also know that Elijah Wells was the editor of the Port Tobacco Times and his lot is north of the Burch House according to our deed research. The Barbour map shows the site of the Maryland Independent in that area too. Guess what we found in that area? Printer's type!
The database shows that we found 6 pieces in that section of the Jamieson field. Now this was just a quick look at the database that I did this morning but all indications show that we should find a blacksmith shop and the newspaper buildings in the areas labeled below.

Another look at the areas will help us narrow down the locations of these two buildings. Perhaps a closer interval shovel test survey should do the trick. With all the work we already have planned for Port Tobacco this spring and summer, it might be awhile before we get to this but its worth looking into in the future.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Looking for Lots

April and I received a very interesting note from Carol Cowherd today. Carol, after reading a posting about the Indian King Hotel last week, revisited the land record information that she had been compiling. With singular resourcefulness, Carol developed a graphic model (a provisional map) of how the lots were laid out between Burch House and the village green.

I'm afraid a full schedule of work, some related to Port Tobacco and some not, will keep me from carefully reviewing the Cowherd Hypothesis for several days, but at first glance it looks promising. Specifically, we might have a location--on the ground--for the Indian King Hotel, a blacksmith shop, and a stable, all dating to the middle of the 19th century. A reason why it requires some time to evaluate the hypothesis is that we have shovel test pit data for this part of town collected back in 2007, and it would be foolish not to include those findings in such an evaluation.

Sure, we have the 1942 map drawn by the late Mr. Barbour showing where he thought these sites were located, but we are trying to create a clear paper trail that demonstrates why we think a particular site is located at a specific spot on the ground. Without that trail, we risk perpetuating errors and we make it more difficult to win those scarce grant funds necessary to insure continued research at Port Tobacco. In preparing an application for funds to test a particular site to answer specific questions, we want to be able to point to our existing research to justify the proposed work.

Thank you Carol!


Monday, February 16, 2009

Battleground Prospecting

Pete and I were tied up on another project in Prince George's County today, as we will be tomorrow, but Thursday I will be down in Port Tobacco scoping out two possible federal encampments from the Civil War. I'm hoping that April and her students and our PTAP team can spend the March campaign on those sites. Plans forthcoming.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

John Hanson

As part of the PTAP team's efforts, we have done some work at Mulberry Grove, the home of John Hanson about one mile south of Port Tobacco. John Hanson was the first president of the United States under the Articles of Confederation (before adoption of the Constitution). I've had the opportunity to talk to people who are interested in researching and memorializing John Hanson, including Ed Edelen (owner of Mulberry Grove) and John Cummings.

This being Sunday, a day on which many Americans think about religion, and Monday being Presidents' Day, a holiday through which we commemorate the service to country of a small group of individuals and reaffirm our confidence in the American political system, a few words about John Hanson and his grandfather seem appropriate.

John Cummings sent me the following information that he recently unearthed, about which I'll say a few things by way of introduction. The correspondence to which Mr. Cummings refers below was between Hans and John Hanson in Maryland to authorities in England. As Mr. Cummings points out, the position of vestryman identifies John Hanson the Elder as a person of wealth and prestige in the community. Both Hansons accept, seemingly without question, the indivisible relationship between the Church of England and the Crown (many, but not all, colonists accepted this relationship without question). It remains for scholars to examine, and reexamine, how the ideas and actions of John Hanson the Elder influenced the views of his better known descendant.


From John Cummings:

Here are some recent discoveries from my search involving religious records from the Church of England to include correspondence with Council and Burgesses to the King, Bishops and Clergy of the 1600's to the 1700's.

Correspondences to the Church of England from Hans Hanson and records of John Hanson (Grandfather to President John Hanson) during the late 1600's are unison. Both John Hanson and Hans Hanson are Vestrymen during the same years - Hans at Kent and John at Port Tobacco. Grandfather John Hanson's position as a Vestryman in Port Tobacco was the furthest
away from an indentured servant with a standing considered to be one of wealth in one the most respectable positions in the Provence of Maryland.

After the discovery, I asked the Lambeth Palace Library in London to send me their interpretation as confirmation to my findings. The following records pertain to Hans Hanson and John Hanson (Grandfather to President John Hanson).

Hans Hanson's name appears at FP II. 63 (Fulham Papers) in an address of Council and Burgesses to the King, appealing for approval of An Act for the Service of Almighty God and the Establishment of the Protestant Religion within this Province [1696] (the Act outlines: Book of Common Prayer to be used in all churches. The Church of England to enjoy all the rights and privileges that she has under the laws of England. Inhabitants of province to enjoy all rights and privileges secured to subjects by laws of England. Clergy to be supported by a tax of 40 lb.
of tobacco per poll, in lieu of tithes. Vestry constituted a body corporate. Register to be kept. Table of marriages posted. Vestrymen to take oaths of allegiance and supremacy. Wardens to maintain church buildings. Fine of 5,000 lb. tobacco for minister or magistrate performing marriage within prohibited degrees).

He appears again at FP II. 66, which is simply a duplicate of the same document.

His name appears at FP II. 179, which is an address of burgesses to the King [1700], in support of an Establishment Act - substantially the same as the former Act noted above.

He appears again at FP II. 181, which is simply a duplicate of the same document.

Hans Hanson's name appears at FP III. 220 in an address of governor, council, and burgesses to the King [late seventeenth century]. Acknowledges gift of books and church furnishings and royal portrait.

Hans appears in FP III. 229, an account of parishes and taxables in Maryland, prepared for the Archbishop of Canterbury by Hen. [Henry] Denton, clerk of the Council. Gives names of vestrymen [late seventeenth century]. He appears listed under St Paul's parish, Kent County.

John Hanson is listed in the same document FP III. 227 under Port Tobacco as Vestry of the Church during the late 1600's.

The documents establish religious belief and community standing during the late 1600's. It is of my opinion that Grandfather John Hanson's standing in the community is the furthest away from an indentured servant and that of an established leader to the community and church.

Without doubt, pieces to the puzzle will eventually form a clear picture to the life of President John Hanson.