Saturday, February 28, 2009

Exhibit Brochure Version #2

Thanks to some constuctive feedback, I present to you the new Remembering Lincoln exhibit brochure.

Doors to the exhibit open at 7pm on Tuesday March 10th and close at 9pm. Admission is free. Light refreshments will be served.


Friday, February 27, 2009

Martenet Map of Charles County, 1865

Thanks to prompting from one of our regular readers, Ken Wedding of Minnesota, I found the 1865 Martenet map of Charles County. There is an interactive map on the Maryland State Archive's Underground Railroad website (see link below). It is interactive in the sense that you can zoom in and out at a reasonably high level of resolution.

Unlike many of the atlas-maps produced by the Simon J. Martenet publishing company for Maryland counties, the Charles County map is not rich in information. These were subscription maps...if you wanted your name to appear on the map, you paid. In wealthier counties like Anne Arundel, there are lots of landowner names on the map and some of the wealthier counties have updated maps, so there might be one from around 1860 and another from around 1880.

For other Martenet maps of Maryland counties (and for other neat digital resources), I recommend the Library of Congress website:

Click American Memory, then Maps, then type in Martenet. There are eight or so Maryland counties and you can zoom in and still have great resolution.

Thanks Ken.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Civil War encampment

In between finishing some fieldwork in Prince George's County, finalizing a grant application in Waldorf with Jay Lilly (President, Society for the Restoration of Port Tobacco), and picking up some site file research on the elusive Matthew Henson birthplace from Charles County planner Cathy Hardy, Pete and I poked around a woods near Port Tobacco with Steve Lohr.

Steve has found ample evidence of a federal encampment, probably regular US cavalry, on the heights to the east of Port Tobacco. We are in the process of trying to get permission from the property owner to explore the site when April comes down from Ohio with the Heidelberg 5 (her students) in March.

This can be fun.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lightening Rod Revisited

Way back in October 2007 we posted a blog about a glass insulator that was part of a lightening rod patented in 1851. In that post Jim asked a question related to it and what caused it to be , "Were there catastrophic fires ignited by lightning strikes elsewhere in the community, or was this merely a prudent installation replicated on scores of buildings in the area?"

I bring this up because I saw an entry in the Port Tobacco Times abstracts from May 1, 1885 that tells of the weathervane and projecting portion of lightening rod was blown off the Court House by high winds. Since the glass insulator that we found is part of the anchoring system, it is unlikely that it is part of the one that blew off the Court House. However, might we find more of these in town? How many buildings in town used them? Did any of the merchants in town sell them?

A look into probate inventories and merchant's ledgers might give us some insight to the last question. As we start to compile biographies of town residents we will certainly be looking at probate inventories and there are several merchants ledgers in the Court House that we will be looking at in the future and adding to our research data.

- Peter

Exhibit Brochure

Below is a draft of our brochure for the Remembering Lincoln museum exhibit. Now is the time to respond with questions, comments, or criticisms.


Monday, February 23, 2009

No News?

Since Jim didn't have any news today I'll submit a report.

We are putting the finishing touches on our museum exhibit, Remembering Lincoln that will be installed in the Port Tobacco Courthouse Museum on March 10th. This exhibit of Lincoln Memorabilia was created by a student, Amanda Manahan, and myself using a collection donated to the Heidelberg University library 35 years ago. Heidelberg also provided the funding for the exhibit construction.

There will be a sneak preview exhibit opening from 7 to 9 pm on Tuesday, March 10th. All are invited to come see the exhibit and mingle with the Heidelberg students, the Port Tobacco Archaeological Project crew, and members of the Charles County Archaeological Society. Admission is free and we will provide some light refreshments.

The Charles County Archaeological Society will hold a brief meeting during the event.

This is the first official collaboration between Heidelberg University's Center for Historic and Military Archaeology, the Port Tobacco Archaeological Project, and the Society for the Restoration of Port Tobacco.

The public's next opportunity to view the exhibit will be in May when the museum opens for the season.

I'll post a copy of our exhibit brochure in the upcoming days.


No News

Sorry news today...hopefully some insights tomorrow.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cemetery Restoration

I was very pleased to see the interest expressed by the Patuxent River Naval Air Station newspaper, The Tester, in the restoration work that Scott and I have been doing at St. Nicholas cemetery. This is a monumental job (aren't puns fun?) and the potential is great for conducting community research. The kinds of monuments purchased by survivors, the placement of graves, and..of course...the inscriptions can reveal the social structure of the Patuxent River community from circa 1800 to 1942. We have the opportunity to examine epidemics and pandemics (e.g., the Spanish influenza that killed millions worldwide at the end of WWI), race relations, distribution of wealth, aesthetics, religion, and many other manifestations of culture that make us who we are.

The first and most important jobs on these kinds of projects (and the later cemetery at Port Tobacco is one such project) are recovery, repair, and re-erection of the monuments. The Port Tobacco Archaeological Project is largely about research, but discovery brings with it the responsibility of preservation (maintaining in perpetuity). Rather than pit research and discovery against preservation (the two processes can be at odds with one another), we think in terms of conservation, or the wise use of resources, rather than preservation. We need to make sure that we balance current research interests and needs with long-term research needs and public access.

For the later cemetery at Port Tobacco, like that at St. Nicholas, we can collect information that is integral to our larger research and interpretive goals for the town, but among our principal responsibilities must always be the intelligent conservation of the monuments and the remains they mark, and the respectful study of the lives the markers commemorate. The people of Port Tobacco have descendents interested in revisiting the graves of their forebears, and it is very likely that the Port Tobacco Archaeological Team will also have descendents, of a sort, interested in revisiting, and reinterpreting, the relics that we have uncovered.