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!

UMD Uncovering Oldest U.S. Community of Free Blacks?

UMD Uncovering Oldest U.S. Community of Free Blacks? | UMD Right Now :: University of Maryland.

I hope everyone in the area can come and be a part of the archaeological dig on The Hill here in Easton. See the link above for more information.

New Golden Rule: Read Shades from Cover to Cover

Friend No. 43

Friend No. 43

Be sure to check out the latest issue of Shades of the Departed magazine. Not only is the issue chock full of school days memories and vintage photos, but I was given the opportunity to tell the Friends Album story (see page 36). Enjoy!

When Your 2nd Cousin Is Also Your Great Grand Uncle

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!

I spent yesterday staying out of the way of carpenters doing work in my house while I enjoyed a day off from work. I also took a break from my client projects for a personal genealogy day. I was excited to track down several more distant cousins on my Tennessee side of the family and discovered a branch with multiple connections.

My 3rd great-grandfather Alfred T. Gourley had a granddaughter, Ann Gourley. She married into the McKeehan clan and had a son, Walter, who was my 2nd cousin, 2x removed. He married Sina Hayes, my great grand aunt (her brother, Willam Edmond, was my great-grandfather). This then made Walter McKeehan not only a distant cousin, but my great grand uncle, by marriage!

Alfred Gourley’s daughter was Mary L. Gourley, who married Daniel B. Crow. Their daughter, Della, married William Edmond Hayes.

Picnic for Twelve — A Family Memoir

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I am happy to report that one of my clients has published Picnic for Twelve, a book about his parents and their growing family as they navigated The Great Depression and other events over the last century. If you are interested in the life of Irish-Americans during the 1900s, have Boston-area ancestors, or are just looking to read a cleverly written yarn, I highly recommend that you download the book for your Kindle or purchase a print copy.

I provided genealogical research support on the Driscoll and Sheehan families. This was a fun and challenging project to work on, as various members of the family moved around a lot, originating in or living in locations including New York City, Southern California, here in Maryland, and of course, Massachusetts and Ireland. Along the way, vital records unlocked most of the clues needed to solve a few family mysteries. As part of the project, I read an early version of the manuscript. The author is a former editor of the Boston Globe and a great storyteller — I highly recommend this book!

“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.