Saturday, March 7, 2009

We made it.

The Heidelberg University crew has arrived in La Plata to help kick
off the March Campaign. We departed Tiffin, Ohio at 10am and have just
begun to settle in to our hotel at 8:30 pm. The students are unwinding
at the hotel pool as I type. They'll be digging in 12 short hours (11
really, thanks to the time change).

April M. Beisaw

Where is Everyone?

The crew is in transit but assembles at Port Tobacco at 08:00 hours...07:00 hours if you think springing forward is silly. Set your watches.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Sunday Focus

Sunday we will be shovel testing around the west and north sides of the courthouse. Just west of the courthouse and north of the jail is the Mill Lot, a small parcel on which a steam powered mill operated in the late 19th century. Hard to imagine screaming gears and thwacking leather belts, combined with whatever noises were peculiar to the engine, a few yards from the courtroom. what will we find on such a site with shovel tests? Don't know. Come help and be among the first to find out.

We will also test the sites of the Smoot House and the Brawner (aka St. Charles) Hotel. I'm pretty sure that we will encounter substantial architectural debris and domestic debris.

The goal for testing in both areas is to more precisely identify the locations of these buildings, especially because they are part of the setting...the theater stage, if you will...on which residents and visitors met and resisted Union occupation during the Civil War. It is possible that part of the Lincoln conspiracy was hatched in the Brawner Hotel.

We expect beautiful weather, great companionship, and new discoveries. All, as always, welcome.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

That's right folks, Sunday is almost here and we are ready to start our spring campaign in Port Tobacco!

We will meet in front of the courthouse at 8am and work from 8:30 -3:30pm. The day will be spent shovel testing and mapping that area of the village. With all the snow we have received this week, it will probably be pretty muddy and wet out there so dress appropriately! Hope to see lots of our readers out there for some fun in the sun...and mud!!

Oh, and don't forget to set your clocks ahead an hour as daylight savings is Sunday at 2am (Thanks Tom!)

- Peter

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sign Contest

It's contest time again!

As part of the Preserve America grant we need a project sign on site. We would like something semi-permanent or permanent in place with the option of changing the sign to fit whatever is going on at the site whether that be a volunteer weekend, our sponsors, etc. The physical design will be decided later, however, if you have ideas about that we would love your input as well.

What we want from you, dear readers, is the artistic side of the design as the team is ill suited for the job.

Of course there are a few requirements:
- our logo and project name
- the following statement: "Conspiracy! Port Tobacco and the Plot to Assassinate President Lincoln is being supported in part by a Preserve America grant administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior."

That's it. Questions, ideas, comments, and submissions can be directed to any of the PTAP team.

- Peter

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Rev. Poindexter

The Reverend James E. Poindexter came to Port Tobacco prior to 1890. There aren't many records of the Reverend in our research except a few tidbits here and there in the PT Times abstracts. In 1889 as the new rector in town he "put out the fire in the rectory" (April 26, 1889). And then he was given a new deacon in 1894 to work under him named John R. Brookes.

I did some quick searches and came across a few interesting pieces of information that will need further investigation.

First, there were no deed records for James E. Poindexter or John R. Brookes. However, there was a deed reference for a Catherine G. Poindexter as a trustee for the Colored Episcopal Church buying property in 1894. This lot is adjacent to the "Rectory Lot" and was part of a land that was conveyed to the children of Frederick Stone. Mr. Stone owned alot of land in and around Port Tobacco. There are several names in the deed that need to be researched that will tell us if this lot and the "Rectory Lot" were actually in the town. The only reference in the deed itself is that "the said lot touches the main road leading from Port Tobacco to Salem..." I don't think it is in the town "proper" but I'll look into it.

Second, I did a quick google search on James E. Poindexter and came up with a book excerpt from the 1891 Episcopal Church Diocese of Maryland. It gave two references to our Reverend. The first was an entry on April 13, 1891 in which the Reverend was given $360 for the colored school at Port Tobacco. The second entry was for $66 paid to the Heywood, Bros. & Co. for the colored school at Port Tobacco.

So the next piece of information to investigate further is the Heywood, Bros. & Co. Again, a quick google search (isn't the Internet grand...sometimes?!) gave me this tidbit to go on.

Two companies, Wakefield Rattan Company and the Heywood Brothers and Company merged in 1897. Original owners of the Heywood Brothers & Company of 1826 were brothers Levi, Benjamin, Walter and later William. After that several other family members were in and out of the leadership of the company. They made wicker, rattan, oak, and other furniture including baby carriages with plants in Massachusetts, Illinois, and California. From what I have read, it appears they were in business until 1966.

On another more coincidental note, there was also a Heywood Brothers & Company bank in Manchester England that was in business from 1788-1874.

- Peter

Monday, March 2, 2009

Archaeology Workshop on Saturday

This coming Saturday, March 7, the Maryland Historical Trust offers its annual day-long workshop at its offices in Crownsville (just outside of Annapolis). Between 9:00 AM and 3:30 PM there will be presentations on Maryland prehistory and underwater archaeology, historic ceramics, clay tobacco pipes, Indian bows, and the controversial subject of whether there were human inhabitants in the Western Hemisphere before the Clovis people (more than 12,000 years ago).

Details can be found on the MHT website:

This is a great opportunity to meet professional and avocational archaeologists and to learn some of the basics of the field.

Registration is a modest $7 for non-members and $5 for members. Not a member? Go ahead and will save you money in the long run and there are benefits such as the semi-annual journal, Maryland Archeology.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Tuesday the 10th

I spent today putting together a brief presentation on the role of Port Tobacco's residents in the conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. This presentation will be part of our exhibit opening event on Tuesday, March 10th. There are several slides on George Atzerodt but also a few on John Atzerodt, Catherine Atzerodt and her husband John L. Smith, Elizabeth Boswell Rose Wheeler, Richard Smoot, J. Alexander Brawner, Washington Briscoe, and Louis Harking. Many of these people lived in Port Tobacco during the Civil War while the Union was encamped in and around the town. As George Atzerodt said in his confession, there must have been many in the town who knew about the plot.