Archaeology on The Hill 2013

Below are photos of this year’s archaeological dig on The Hill in Easton, part of an effort to prove The Hill is the oldest community in the nation established by free blacks. This year’s dig is taking place on the property of the Women’s Club of Talbot County (18 Talbot Lane). Residents of The Hill are believed to have lived and worked on the property and the archaeology students from the University of Maryland and Morgan State University are looking for evidence of their presence during the dig. The dig will continue through Friday, July 26, and the public is welcome during the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. each weekday.

The scene at the dig. Today was a special weekend open house for the public.

The scene at the dig. Today was a special weekend open house for the public.

One of the students was sifting through the dirt that had been dug out of the test pits.

One of the students was sifting through the dirt that had been dug out of the test pits.

He found several pieces of pottery. He would lick them to see if they were porcelain. Porcelain pieces won't stick to your tongue.

He found several pieces of pottery. He would lick them to see if they were porcelain. Porcelain pieces won’t stick to your tongue.

He also found a porcelain button.

He also found a porcelain button.

Other students were working in the test pits. Morgan State student Brittany explains what they've found so far in this photo.

Other students were working in the test pits. Morgan State student Brittany explains what they’ve found so far in this photo.

This test pit was a tricky one to work in due to the tree roots.

This test pit is a tricky one to work in due to the tree roots.

The students are finding a lot of oyster shells in the test pits. They say that oyster shells were given to chickens in the yard. The chickens would eat the shells to aid in their digestion. They have found other evidence of a chicken coop during the dig.

The students are finding a lot of oyster shells in the test pits. They say that oyster shells were given to chickens in the yard. The chickens would eat the shells to aid in their digestion. They have found other evidence of a chicken coop during the dig.

One of the most exciting finds so far this year is this 1794 metal coin.

One of the most exciting finds so far this year is this 1794 metal coin.

The back of the coin.

The back of the coin.

The students had some of their finds on display, including a metal toy gun, marbles, a door hinge and other objects.

The students had some of their finds on display, including a metal toy gun, marbles, a door hinge and other objects.

Tools of the trade.

Tools of the trade.

The students also had a washing station where they were rinsing finds from another dig in Talbot County. Following are photos of those artifacts:

Rinsing station.

The rinsing station.

The students found this glass bottle with the word 'Baltimore' stamped on it.

The students found this glass bottle with the word ‘Baltimore’ stamped on it.

A piece of porcelain.

A piece of porcelain.

Metal objects.

Metal objects.

Funds for the dig were raised by Historic Easton. You can learn more about The Hill on the Historic Easton web site. If you would like to help support future digs, please click the ‘Donate’ button on the Historic Easton homepage.

Student Archaeologists Dig up Easton’s Past – WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Student Archaeologists Dig up Easton’s Past – WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -.

More coverage of the archaeological dig happening in Easton at the link above!

Archaeological Dig on The Hill in Easton

Photos below are from the archaeological dig going on at the “Buffalo Soldier’s House” in The Hill area of Easton, Md. (323 South Street). Visitors are welcome to stop by this upcoming week, Monday thru Friday, between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., to observe the dig.

The house (built c. 1880) belonged to relatives of William Gardner, a Buffalo Soldier. The archaeological dig is part of a process to help save the house and also is part of a wider investigation of the history of the entire neighborhood.

(click on the photos below for larger versions)

UMD students examine a button they found during the excavation.

Excavating in the backyard of the house.

Combing through the excavated rubble and dirt.

Excavating an area thought to be part of an alley that once separated the house from another home next door that has since been demolished. The students have found coins, marbles and pieces of metals and plastic so far.

Photos of the house itself:

323 South Street

The rear of the house.

Portion of the side porch. Many of the windows and doors are gone and covered with plywood painted to resemble the real thing so the home looks nicer.

View of a hole in the ceiling of the front porch reveals older trim and paint.

Layers of siding reveal themselves.

The Hill: Amazing Tales and Discoveries

I had an amazing time today at the presentation about The Hill in Easton — I got to hear stories from current and former residents about the way African Americans developed this neighborhood from the late 18th-century to today. We took a walking tour and stopped into one of the churches that is at the neighborhood’s core. I also discovered that I had happened upon a real gem during a prior project that has value for the history of The Hill.

Below are some photos and tidbits from the day (click on the photos for larger versions):

Our tour started on Higgins Street, in front of these duplexes that pre-date indoor plumbing. A resident said that bathrooms eventually were built on to the back porches of houses.

Another view down Higgins Street, with the AME church steeple in the background.

The steeple of the church is topped with a pineapple, a Colonial symbol of welcome and hospitality.

The church dominates the view down South Lane.

The “Buffalo Soldier’s House.” Sgt. William Gardner never lived there, but his enlistment papers were found there. The house was owned by his brother.

View of the “Buffalo Soldier’s House” with one of The Hill’s AME church steeples in the background. Archaeologists from the University of Maryland will dig at this site this summer.

Barney Brooks, a descendant of one of the owners of the “Buffalo Solider’s House” is interviewed by a student from Morgan State University during today’s breakout session, where residents could tell their stories and have their documents scanned for posterity.

Habitat for Humanity will be renovating this house. Today, they were painting the boards over the windows and doors to make them look like real windows and doors in the interim, to keep the property from looking abandoned.

This is one of the oldest houses, especially brick structures, in The Hill neighborhood, dating to 1798.

The corner of Hanson and South Streets, with 3 c.-1870 brick homes. The neighborhood has traditionally been mixed-race. Columbia, Md., developer James Rouse (aka actor Edward Norton’s grandfather, for those outside of Maryland), grew up here. He got his ideas for creating a mixed-income, mixed-race community from his time spent in Easton.

Frederick Douglass once spoke at both AME churches in Easton. The rostrums at which he spoke survive to this day. Here is the rostrum at the Bethel AME Church on Hanson Street.

Now, for the coolest part of the day for me. In a talk about the “Buffalo Soldier’s House,” local historian Priscilla Morris mentioned two black women from The Hill, Ann Eliza Skinner Green Dodson and her sister, Temperance (whose son was the Buffalo Soldier, William Gardner). [4/2: Oops! I was a little confused during this presentation -- I was so excited when I realized I had the photo. Temperance's sister Ann was an early owner of the property known as the "Buffalo Soldier's House." The house passed to Temperance's son before it was sold to the Gardner family.] Morris mentioned that Temperance was a servant of the Hambleton family, who lived in the building that is now the Bartlett Pear Inn.

I realized I had a photo of Temperance.

When I did the history of the Bartlett Pear Inn, I came upon a stereograph image of the building (the top photo on the poster here) at the Historical Society of Talbot County. Pictured on the front porch are members of the Hambleton family. On the sidewalk, with two of the Hambleton children, is the Hambleton’s African American servant. Temperance.

No one at today’s meeting had seen the image before — I was able to show it to them on my phone. It was so exciting to share this rare piece of history with the group!

History of Mulberry Point

Recently, I was hired to do a property history for a new property owner’s birthday present. The 18th-century home and land I researched were purchased last year for conversion into a vacation rental. Below is the land’s history and some photos of the property (click on the images for larger versions).

Waterside view of Mulberry Point. The two-story porch was added during a recent renovation.

The property today known as Mulberry Point can be traced back to the mid 1660s. It has seen many owners and names over the years. Residents and owners participated in the War of 1812 and the Revolutionary War. Some residents were slave owners. Several residents died on the property and at least one was buried there.

View from down the dock on Broad Creek, originally known as Second Creek, near Bozman, Md., in Talbot County.

The ownership history of the waterfront property, located on Broad Creek near Bozman, Md., is quite complicated — pieces of the property were split up and reunited over the years, in different configurations.

The main home was built in 1752 and has undergone extensive renovations. The windows and the front door, with its transom, lead me to call this a Georgian-style home.

A view of the front of Mulberry Point. Tax records show the house was built in 1752.

One of the outbuildings may be even older. Check out the details on the doors of this shed below.

That's a neat old gas pump too!

The Harrison family held the land for the longest period of time. Margaret (Harrison) Benson and her husband George* sold the land to a different family in 1865 for the sum of $4,325. It has changed hands many times since.

Margaret Benson was the daughter of James Inloes Harrison. The Bensons took over the land from Harrison’s sister, Mrs. Ann Caulk, widow of William Caulk.

The Bensons were slave owners, as evidenced by an exchange of slaves between the Harrisons and the Bensons in the distribution of the estate of James Inloes Harrison. Ann Caulk’s will, which distributed slaves to her heirs, was disputed by heirs of her brother, James. In the resulting ruling, Margaret Benson was awarded the following slaves: Thomas who was 28 years old and valued at $800; a 10-year-old slave named Harriet, valued at $400; a 24-year-old woman named Molly, valued at $250; an infant also named Molly (6 months old), valued at $50; as well as another 10-year-old girl named Frances, valued at $350.

Since the Bensons sold the property in 1865, one can imagine that when they had to give up their slaves after the Civil War, they might not have been able to maintain the property anymore, forcing them to sell. It’s just a theory, but it fits the timeframe.

James Inloes Harrison died at Mulberry Point 30 October 1855 (he is buried in Bozman Cemetery). Arthur Harrison, the son of James Inloes Harrison, was buried at Mulberry Point and his tombstone was eventually found in the water on the north side of the house by the children of more recent owners.

Ann Caulk and James Inloes Harrison were the children of Thomas Harrison and Elizabeth Inloes. Ann Caulk died in 1854 and is buried at Mulberry Point. Her husband William was a major in the War of 1812 and was known as a prosperous farmer. William served under General Perry Benson in the 26th Talbot Regiment. William resided at a plantation by the name of Lostock near Mulberry Point. Ann Caulk presumably moved to Mulberry Point after the death of her husband.

Ann Caulk was left Mulberry Point by Samuel Harrison, her uncle. Samuel Harrison obtained the land from William Harrison in 1825 for $1,940.50, but it does not appear that he lived there. At that time, the pieces of land were called Harrison’s Security and Freeman’s Rest & Vacancy Added, totaling about 167 acres, as well as part of a tract called Harrison’s Partnership.

The Harrisons obtained these lands from Robert Haddaway in the late 1790s. Broad Creek at that time was known as Second Creek. It appears that tracts by the name of Haddaway’s Discovery and Hap Hazard were located to the south of what is now Mulberry Point.

Detail of circa-1900 map of Talbot County.

The lands were passed down to Haddaway by his parents, William Webb Haddaway and Frances (Harrison) Haddaway, who obtained them through the will of her father, John Harrison.

Robert Haddaway was a house carpenter according to land records (he also is listed as a farmer in a mortgage to Thomas Harrison). The main residence at Mulberry Point was built in 1752, according to tax records. The owners at that time were Robert Haddaway’s parents — might he have helped to build the structure?

William Webb Haddaway served in the Revolutionary War in the 38th Maryland Battalion, eventually achieving the rank of colonel. He was a slave owner, as the 1776 Maryland Colonial Census lists several blacks in his household.

John Harrison’s will of 17 July 1744 gave his lands to Frances Harrison (William Webb Haddaway’s wife). John appears to have been willed the land by his grandfather, Robert Harrison, in 1718.

Robert Harrison inherited lands called Prouses Point and Haphazard from his wife, Alice Oliver, when her mother, Mary Oliver, died. The portion containing Hap Hazard appears to have been given to John Harrison’s brother James and is to the south of what is now Mulberry Point. Prouses Point appears to have evolved into what is known today as Mulberry Point.

Mary Oliver had been married to James Oliver, who obtained Prouses Point from George Prouse in 1668. Prouse had the land surveyed in 1664 at 100 acres. It appears he was an immigrant to Maryland and the original owner of the land patent for the property.

*It’s possible that Margaret Benson’s husband George Benson was the great-grandson of Perry Benson, an officer in the Revolutionary War and War of 1812. George Benson’s father was Robert F. Benson (born in 1807). Perry Benson’s son James had a son by the name of Robert, also born in 1807. It is possible he was the father of George Benson.

This aerial photo was taken in 1981:

(Image courtesy of the Historical Society of Talbot County)/HSTC Catalog No. 1981.019.019509

Sources:

Ancestry.com. “Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s.” Record for George Prouse. (http://ancestry.com : accessed 8 February 2012).

Ancestry.com. “Maryland Colonial Census, 1776.” Record for William Webb Haddaway. (http://ancestry.com : accessed 8 February 2012).

Covington, Antoinette H. Harrisons of Talbot County. Tilghman, Md.: 1971.

Leonard, R. Bernice. Talbot County Maryland Land Records 1740-1745. St. Michaels, Md.: 1987.

Maryland, Talbot County. Distributions 1858-81, Liber NR 5, 33, distribution of the estate of James I. Harrison 25 Oct 1858. Circuit Court of Talbot County, Easton. Maryland State Archives microfilm, CR 90,289.

Seymour, Helen. Caulk Family of Talbot County, Maryland. St. Michaels, Md.: 2002.

Seymour, Helen. Thomas Harrison Descendants. St. Michaels, Md.: 2003.

Stewart, Carole. Caulk Family Genealogy, 2007.

Talbot County, Maryland, Deed Records, Circuit Court of Talbot County, Easton. Digital images. MDLandRec.net. http://MDLandRec.Net

Talbot County Free Library. “Map of Talbot County, Maryland.” Maryland Room — The Starin Collection – Talbot County. (http://www.tcfl.org : accessed 12 January 2012).

Lina Hoyer

Dear Reader: Do you think you are related to the individuals listed in this post? Please drop me a note! I love hearing from cousins and others researching my family!

Today is the anniversary of the death of my 2nd great-grandmother, Lina Hoyer, who passed away in 1915. She was the daughter of Julius Hoyer and Sophia Heimel, both German immigrants who raised her in San Antonio, Texas. She married Fridolin Wild and together they raised seven children, including my great-grandfather Herman Wild Sr.

In prepping for this blog post, I was reminded that photos of her gravesite have been added to FindaGrave. The memorial there also includes text from her obituary in the San Antonio Light, which includes her last street address, 206 Lavaca Street. Here is a Google Street View image of that address (apparently taken on trash day):

206 Lavaca Street, San Antonio