“Uncovering Our Past” — An Update on The Hill

For those interested in learning the latest on the explorations and research into The Hill neighborhood in Easton, please plan to join us on Saturday, November 3, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

We believe “The Hill” is the oldest African American neighborhood in the country, predating what is thought of as the oldest documented African American neighborhood: “Treme” located in New Orleans, LA.

“Uncovering Our Past” will take place at the Talbot County Senior Center (400 Brookletts Place) and will provide a debriefing on the on-going documentation efforts regarding “The Hill” and a discussion on the role of archeology and historic preservation. Professor Dale Glenwood Green of Morgan State University School of Architecture and Planning and Dr. Mark Leone of the University of Maryland College Park Department of Anthropology will highlight a panel discussion followed by a open session for sharing and collecting stories of the neighborhood history. Light refreshments will be available.

For more information on this project, please see:

The Hill: Amazing Tales and Discoveries

Archaeological Dig on The Hill in Easton

Update from The Hill

Help Preserve an Historic African American Neighborhood: The Hill in Easton, Md.

Returning a Long-Borrowed Ruler

In going through the treasure-trove of items saved by my grandmother, my aunt came upon three wooden rulers. One was made of samples of each kind of wood traditionally used in furniture. The other two were shaped like long pyramids, with a different measuring system on each side.

My aunt said that I should take one of the rulers. I noticed that one had my grandfather’s name written on it and I said she should keep that one. The other had a completely unrelated individual’s name on it! How strange.

My grandfather graduated high school in 1930 in San Antonio, Texas. Apparently he was classmates with someone named Fred A. Slimp and came into possession of his ruler. I can only assume he borrowed it at some point. Or perhaps he picked it up by accident in class one day.

I began trying to find Fred A. Slimp. And find him I did — and three children. Fred died in 1996, but I believe that at least one of his sons is still alive and that I have a current address for him. I hope he gets a kick out of receiving the ruler when I send it to him.

Meet Anson G. Bennett, My 2nd Great-Grandfather

Anson G. Bennett

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!

This weekend, one of my aunts and I went through a ton of photos and documents that used to belong to my grandmother. Among the treasures was a funeral announcement for my second great-grandfather, Anson G. Bennett. I wrote about him briefly before.

One of the most exciting things about the article was the photo shown here — I’d never seen his photo before. Unfortunately, the newspaper clipping isn’t dated or identified by publication name. It most likely came from one of the San Antonio papers.

The article reveals several new-to-me facts. One of Anson’s sons was San Antonio city clerk. Anson was buried at St. Mary’s parish cemetery. Anson’s address at the time of his death was 619 Cedar Street.

619 Cedar Street, San Antonio

The following excerpt is especially rich in detail:

“A native of Missouri, he was brought to San Antonio in a covered wagon by his father, Capt. Sam C. Bennett, Civil War veteran and boat captain on the Mississippi river between St. Louis and New Orleans.” (“A. G. Bennett Funeral Services Set,” date and publication unknown.)

I already knew that Anson died on 12 Mar 1944. I didn’t know about his father’s Civil War service. I believe he served the Confederacy as I have evidence he was a slave owner (an obituary for one of the family’s slaves was even published in the San Antonio Express).

Beyond the above clues, searching anew for information on Anson led me to his listing in the 1940 census. I also found another newspaper article that said Samuel C. Bennett was custodian of the Alamo for three years prior to his death in 1900 (“Capt. Bennett Dead,” Dallas Morning News, 16 Jan 1900, digital image, GenealogyBank, http://genealogybank.com : accessed 2 Sep 2012.). I have a feeling there’s going to be a lot more material to find on him.

Saving the Miller’s House

Below are photos from a visit I made along with other members of Historic Easton to the Miller’s House in what is now Wye Mills back in April. The Miller’s House was built by Edward Lloyd III in the 1700s to attract a miller to the area as local agriculture transitioned from tobacco-based to grain-based.

After sitting vacant for years, the home has fallen into quite a state of disrepair. Historic Easton is trying to stabilize the house before it falls down. While we have grants to help cover some of the work, we are seeking support from anyone interested to help offset costs (donations can be made via Paypal to historiceaston@gmail.com).

Click on the photos below to view larger versions:

The Miller’s House, perched on a hill above the Wye Mill’s area in Talbot County, Md. A security fence has since been constructed to protect the house.

A closer view of the other side of the house.

There is significant damage to this side of the house, which was compounded by last year’s earthquake.

Close-up view of some of the damage to the exterior wall.

Various means are being employed to keep the walls from moving any further.

Supports also are holding up the floors. This picture was taken in the basement of the house.

This hook is embedded in the ceiling of the basement. A woman whose aunt used to live in the home said that the family lived in the basement during the summer because it was cooler.

Brickwork in the basement.

Closer view of the brickwork.

A piece of pottery in the rubble outside of the house.

There is a cemetery on the property — I’ll be helping to map out the gravestones when the weather cools and vegetation dies back.

Cemetery on the property.

A piece of pottery in the cemetery.

Pottery fragment on the ground outside of the home.

Another pottery fragment.

Snake sunning itself on the brick exterior of the home.

 

Debris on steps outside of the house shows the color that one of the porches used to be.

Update from The Hill

Just a quick post to share a link to another blog: Archaeology in Annapolis by the team of students from the University of Maryland who spent three weeks on an archaeological dig at the “Buffalo Soldier’s House” in Easton’s The Hill neighborhood. They found some great stuff!

Album Rescue Project: Cracking the Codes (The Letter B)

As promised, I’m continuing my examination of the photos in the Album Rescue Project. I’ve created a spreadsheet of all of the codes written on the photos, to make them easier to group. My hope is to interpret what at least some of the codes mean because this may provide further clues as to the identities of those pictured in the album.

I have come up with a new theory about the codes and who wrote them. My hunch is that the album’s star–the girl featured in most of the album’s photos–was the original owner of the albums and that she wrote a lot of the captions. However, I don’t think she necessarily also wrote the codes. My reasons for this: the handwriting is slightly different in the codes than in the captions; the codes are written in ink and almost all of the captions are in pencil; some of the photos have multiple codes. My thinking is that a subsequent possessor of the albums started coding the photos in order to organize them either for divvying up among family members or for selling. Many, many of the albums’ original photos were no longer in the albums when I purchased them. A friend of mine suggested that a previous owner may have sold some of the photos individually before offloading the albums.

On to the codes themselves. I’m starting with the letter ‘B.’ No ‘A’s were used in the codes. Below are the photos incorporating the letter ‘B’ in some way. There are a variety of subjects portrayed. I think codes incorporating ‘B,’ ‘2B,’ ‘3B’ and ‘BB’ all stand for different things.

Photo 73 — 2B-1917/F-1917 (Aunt Bert & Hazel Walters)

Photo 79 — 2B-1918

Photo 103 — 2B-1919

Photo 44 — 3B-1918

Photo 45 — 3B-1917

Photo 132 — 3B-1920

Photo 133 — 3B-1920

Photo 101 — B-1918

Photo 20 — BB-1920 (Red Bridge Park)

I think that ‘2B’ and ‘3B’ are particular to the locations pictured. ‘3B’ photos in particular seem to be from some sort of summer destination or gathering spot. Regarding ‘BB,’ I don’t think it is necessarily particular to the subject of Red Bridge Park as there are other photos from that park without a code using ‘BB.’

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.