Saturday, October 25, 2008

Moore's Lodge

Yesterday I mentioned that I would be speaking at the annual dinner meeting of the Charles County Historical Society. (I'll be leaving soon...just have to pack up the projector and screen.) I also mentioned that, at the request of the Society, I would say a few words about Mike Sullivan and Julie King's successful search for the first county courthouse. In preparation for this evening, I read the report of their methods and results.

This is a fine report and I hope it will be made available to the general public on the Web if not in hard copy. The report is clear, concise, and well-illustrated. If provides as definitive an argument as can be made in archaeology for the identification of the site as that of the first courthouse, ordinary, and probable home of Thomas Hussey and his successors.

Tonight I will briefly summarize those findings before discussing the Port Tobacco work at greater length. For those interested in hearing the full Moore's Lodge story, Julie will speak about the project at the November meeting of the Charles County Archaeological Society. The meeting will be at the Port Tobacco Courthouse at 7:30 PM on the second Tuesday of November (the 11th). Al are welcome and I'll be sure to remind folks of the presentation a week beforehand.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Charles County Historical Society

As Pete noted yesterday, he and April will present a paper on some of our Port Tobacco research this Sunday at the Council for Northeast Historical Archaeology meeting in St. Mary's City. Not to be outdone by the young people on the team, I'll be speaking at the meeting of the Charles County Historical Society in Wayside Saturday, 6:30 PM. I'll be talking a little about Mike Sullivan and Julie King's discovery of the first courthouse (1674-1727) at Moore's Lodge and then segue into a discussion about what we have been doing and finding at Port Tobacco.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

CNEHA 2008

Just a reminder that this weekend is the 2008 Council for Northeast Historical Archaeology in St. Mary's City, MD. It's a three day affair with tours on Friday and presentations on Saturday and Sunday. Further information can be found here. April and I cowrote a paper that I will be presenting on Sunday afternoon.

Here is the abstract for our paper:

Dividing the Space of this Place: Nineteenth-Century Port Tobacco, Maryland
Peter Quantock, April Beisaw

Historical maps of Port Tobacco, Charles County, Maryland document the
town's nineteenth-century layout. A central courthouse and church front on a public square of offices and businesses, including two hotels, one on the north and one on the south side of the square. Other "paired" structures include one-room schools and
social halls in the north and south ends of town. Archaeological and archival
research provide a means of understanding the apparent north-south spatial
division of life in Port Tobacco.

Scott and I are going on something called the "Cemetery Crawl" on Saturday night in St. Mary's. Not sure what that is but I'm sure it will be fun. I will report on the conference when I get back on Monday.

- Peter

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Aboriginal Locus

When leaving a site, we have documentation and photographs of what we've done. However, it sometimes is easier to look at things on a digital level. Which is why we draft all of our drawings in AutoCAD to make it easier to put them together. The Aboriginal Locus is another example. Here is what the whole area looks like when all the plan views are put together. What we originally thought was a rectangular cellar is not so rectangular.
The shaded area is the rubble fill layer that was exposed first in Unit 5. We expanded the whole area to try and find the boundary of the fill layer and now with this drawing we can see where we would need to dig further to find the outline. Unit 7 shows the post hole and mold that was found. On the east side of Unit 26 is another possible post hole and mold.
Obviously there was a building here and with what we know from the post mold feature in Unit 7, at one point it was a earthenfast building before a brick structure was built. Was that earlier building an Aboriginal dwelling that coincides with the Potomac Creek and Moyaone pottery found in the same units? This is a question I would love to know the answer to!

- Peter

Monday, October 20, 2008

Jailhouse Foundation

I have finished the drawing of the jailhouse foundation that was uncovered this summer. While we have found the jailhouse that we were looking for, many questions still remain about the structure itself. We have no good detailed photographs to look at and no drawings either. Uncovering the rest of the foundation and area inside and out of the foundation could give us more information on what it looked like. This isn't a top priority for us but it is something that we will go back to. Now that we know where the jailhouse is located, it will be easy for us to get back to it at a later date. Here's the up to date drawing of the foundation:

The units at the top (north end) were uncovered after all the brush was cleared away on the edge of the woods. Units 27 and 28 were excavated after positive shovel test pits were dug uncovering the top of the foundation.

- Peter

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Religious Freedom Scenic Byway

This Tuesday, October 21, the County Commissioners for St. Mary's County will hear about a draft management plan for a proposed religious freedom scenic byway that will take in much of St. Mary's and Charles counties. The Charles County Commissioners have already approved the plan. Assuming St. Mary's approves it, the nomination and plan go to the Federal Highway Administration which, the advisory committee is confident, they will approve.

Precisely what happens after that, and how it will benefit Port Tobacco and other historic sites in the County, I'm not sure. Certainly scenic byway status will attract funds for advertising the sites. Unfortunately, the historic sites in Charles County, Port Tobacco included, need more than advertising...they need capital investment. Needless to say, the timing for seeking such monies couldn't be worse...well, not much worse at any rate.

Port Tobacco's place in the scenic byway, given the religious freedom theme, was not clear last year and in the first half of 2008; but the unanticipated discovery of the Colonial period cemetery last October and its partial exposure last June, and the likelihood of finding the first Anglican church nearby, improves our chances of contributing to the scenic byway.

The spiritual life of Port Tobacco is not something the PTAP team has looked at very closely. After all, we went into this venture expecting to investigate a port town, not generally considered a hotbed of religious sentiment. Researchers are likely to find more drinking establishments and brothels than churches in busy port towns, but there were churches in Port Tobacco and the Catholic church, St. Ignatius, is just down the road. Spirituality is certainly a dimension of Port Tobacco life that we must, and will, investigate. Whether religious freedom or religious conflict best describes our findings, ultimately, remains to be seen.