MS. in a Bottle – Edgar Allan Poe and Baltimore


October seems the perfect month to feature a blog post on Gothic horror writer Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) and his storied history in Maryland. This circa 1830s wine bottle, recovered from a mid-19th century privy in Baltimore, inspired this post.

Figure 1. Wine bottle recovered from a mid-19th-century privy at the Federal Reserve Site (18BC27) in Baltimore.

Although born in Boston on January 19, 1809, Edgar Allan Poe’s Baltimore roots extend back before his birth. Poe’s father, professional actor David Poe, Jr., was from originally from Baltimore and Poe’s paternal grandfather moved there with his parents from Ireland in the mid-18th century.  As a result of his father’s abandonment and the subsequent death of his mother, Edgar Poe became an orphan at the age of three.  He and his siblings were split up, with Edgar Poe sent to Richmond, Virginia, to be raised by the family of John and Frances Allan. It was Poe’s relationship with this family that prompted him to take the middle name Allan.

Figure 2. Daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe, late 1840s.

Edgar Allan Poe’s own relationship with Baltimore began in 1827, when he was in the city for a short time before enlisting in the Army. Later that same year, his poem “Extract—Dreams” was published in the Baltimore newspaper The North American, under the initials W. H. P. [William Henry Poe].  Some of his other early poems were published in Baltimore in 1829 in a volume entitled Al Araaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems (Quinn 1998). Limited numbers of the volume were printed and it received very little notice at the time.

On October 19, 1833, the Baltimore Saturday Visiter published Poe’s short story, “MS. Found in a Bottle”.  The story was Poe’s response to a short story contest announced in the June 15th edition of the paper. Poe submitted six stories to the contest, and “MS. Found in a Bottle” was the unanimous choice of the judges, earning Poe a $50 prize. Poe scholars agree that this short story launched the author’s career (Peeples 1998). Perhaps Poe’s story was inspired by a wine bottle like the one illustrated here, since Poe was no stranger to drinking.

Figure 3. Banner of the Baltimore Saturday Visiter edition that published Poe’s story “MS. Found in a Bottle” on October 18, 1833.

One of Poe’s greatest connections with the city was with his cousin, Virginia Eliza Clemm.  Poe married 13-year old Virginia in 1835; they remained married until her death from tuberculosis in 1847. Poe began to drink heavily after his wife’s death.

October is also the month of Poe’s rather sudden and premature death at the age of 40, during a visit to Baltimore. Scholars still disagree about the cause of Poe’s death on October 7, 1849, with at least nine hypotheses in play, including carbon monoxide poisoning, rabies, the flu and murder. Complications from his long struggle with alcohol addiction seem a likely candidate, although swelling of the brain was listed as the official reason on his death certificate (Geiling 2014). Poe was originally laid to rest in an unmarked grave in Baltimore, but in 1875 was exhumed and buried with his wife Virginia and her mother—in the city where he first gained recognition for his writing talents.

Figure 4. Poe’s gravesite in Baltimore.

Fascination with Poe and his mysterious stories and complicated life is still strong today, particularly in the cities where he made his home.  Baltimore even named their football team – the Baltimore Ravens—in homage to Poe. Today, fans of Edgar Allan Poe have a variety of Poe’s former homes where they can pay homage to the horror writer:  the Poe Museum in Richmond, The Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum in Baltimore, or even the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site in Philadelphia.

References

Geiling, Natasha. 2014. The (Still) Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe. Smithsonianmag.com. October 7, 2014. Website accessed on October 13, 2020 at https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/still-mysterious-death-edgar-allan-poe-180952936/.

Peeples, Scott.  1998.  Edgar Allan Poe Revisited. Twayne Publishers, New York.

Quinn, Arthur Hobson. 1998. Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography. Johns Hopkins University Press.

A Humiliating American Defeat at Bladensburg


This 18 pound cannonball was donated to the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab several years ago by a nearby resident who found it on his property. Doubtless, this cannonball was fired during the Battle of St. Leonard’s Creek, where the British engaged with American Commodore Joshua Barney’s fleet in June of 1814 (Eshelman 2012). This month’s blog uses this artifact to commemorate the Battle of Bladensburg, which occurred on August 24, 1814.

Figure 1. Eighteen pound cannonball discovered near the site of the Battle of St. Leonard Creek, June 1814. Both the British and American forces used 18 pound balls, so it is not possible to assign this cannonball to a specific side.

After British troops left Southern Maryland following the Battle of St. Leonard Creek, they advanced on Washington, D. C., with the goal of capturing the nation’s capital. American troops, anticipating this move, were waiting for them ten miles outside of the city, at Bladensburg. All signs pointed to an American victory: the American troops occupied the high ground leading into town, they controlled the bridge leading over the Anacostia River and they outnumbered the British forces 6,500 to 4,500 (Battlefields.org 2020). Three battle lines were drawn up along the high ground, with one of the lines consisting of sailors and marines under the command of Joshua Barney, who had recently engaged the British at St. Leonard Creek (Whitlow 2020).

Figure 2. Drawing of the Battle of Bladensburg from a British perspective. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

But the British forces had the advantage of more training and a strong, experienced leader in Major General Robert Ross (NPS 2016). Ross determined that the placement of the American troops left them vulnerable. Once the British troops had forded the river above the bridge, as well as forcing their way across the bridge, they advanced and gained control of the west bank of the river. American forces, under the command of General William Winder, quickly retreated. There were an estimated 450 casualties of the Battle of Bladensburg – 200 on the American side and 250 for the British troops. Commodore Barney was shot in the thigh, but managed to command his men to retreat before passing out from blood loss (Whitlow 2020).

The British victory at Bladensburg allowed them to easily march into Washington, where they set fire to a number of public buildings, including the presidential mansion, occupied at that time by James and Dolley Madison. A dinner for forty people had been in the works when the mansion was abandoned and the soldiers partook of the food and wine before setting fire to the house (Gleig 1826). The capture of Washington on August 24th and 25th of 1814 was the only time a foreign power has captured our nation’s capital.

Figure 3. Damage to the White House after the British burned the building. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The Maryland State Highway Administration, in partnership with the Center for Heritage Resource Studies of the University of Maryland, conducted archaeological investigations at the Market Master’s House and the Indian Queen Tavern in Bladensburg as part of the outreach for the bicentennial celebrations of the War of 1812 (Crowl et al. 2012).

References

Battlefields.org. 2020. Bladensburg. American Battlefield Trust. Website accessed on August 21, 2020 at https://www.battlefields.org/learn/war-1812/battles/bladensburg.

Crowl, Heather, Benjamin Stewart, Carey O’Reilly, and Kathleen Furgerson. Bladensburg Archeological Investigations: Magruder House (18PR982), Market Master House (18PR983), and Indian Queen Tavern Site (18PR96), Prince George’s County, Maryland. 3 vols. SHA Archeological Report No. 432, SHA, Baltimore, 2012.

Eshelman, Ralph. In Full Glory Reflected: Discovering the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake. Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore, 2012.

Gleig, George Robert, A History of the Campaigns of the British at Washington and New Orleans (1826), reprinted in The Heritage of America by Henry Steele Commager and Allan Nevins (1939).

National Park Service (NPS). Summer 1814: American troops flee in humiliation, leaving Washington exposed. National Park Service. Website accessed August 18, 2020 at https://www.nps.gov/articles/bladensburg-races.htm.

Whitlow, Zachary. 2020. Bladensburg: Before the British Could Torch the Capital of the United States……They had one more stop to make. American Battlefield Trust Bladensburg. Website accessed August 21, 2020 at https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/bladensburg-british-could-torch-capital-united-states.

“The Manner of Their Fishing”: Trapping Fish in Maryland’s Past


Curators at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab have the distinctly enviable pleasure of going through the lab’s archaeological collections as part of their daily jobs. And more often than not, the collections will yield interesting new discoveries—like the curious object in Figure 1. It was found in a bag containing many similar pieces of iron wire and had not been identified by archaeologists at the time of its excavation at the Oxon Hill/Addison Plantation site (18PR175) on the Potomac River in Prince George’s County. But leave it to MAC Lab Federal Curator Sara Rivers Cofield to come up with its identification as part of an eel trap (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Photo montage of a complete eel trap (created by Sara Rivers Cofield).

The only freshwater eel in North America, the American eel (Anguilla rostrata), spends most of its time in fresh or brackish water, migrating to the ocean to spawn (Wilding 2018).  While eel (Figure 3) has virtually disappeared from North American cuisine, it was very popular with colonial Americans, who brought a taste for it from England (Schweid 2002). Wrapped in a pastry crust, eel pie was a common and inexpensive London street food. The English settlers were not the only ones to enjoy eel’s reportedly robust flavor; Algonquin tribes smoked them (Booth 1971:108).  In the late 18th century, eels were a staple of George Washington’s army’s diet.  

 

Figure 3. Common Eel from The Fresh-water Fishes of Great Britain, drawn and described by Mrs. T. Edward Bowdich. R. Ackermann: London, 1828.

Riverine resources have always been an important aspect of Maryland’s past. In addition to spearing and netting fish, Maryland’s native populations used fish traps and weirs of varying types. Both traps and weirs worked by routing fish, including eel, into places of no escape, where they could be more easily speared or netted. Traps could be constructed of basketry, wire like the Oxon Hill example, or wood, similar to an example depicted by John White in late 16th-century eastern North Carolina (Figure 4). Fish weirs were more often made of stone arranged in a V-shape that channeled the fish downriver through a narrow chute and possibly into a smaller holding pen constructed of wood or brush for easy capture. A 1965 aerial photographic survey of a portion of the Potomac River near Washington D.C. discovered 36 prehistoric and colonial stone fish traps and weirs (Strandberg and Tomlinson 1969).  A total of 54 V-shaped stone weirs have been documented in the Potomac between Leesburg and Harper’s Ferry (Scheel 2000).

Figure 4. The Manner of Their Fishing. Artist John White, British Museum Collections.

The use of fish traps extends back thousands of years in Southern Maryland; archaeologist Horace P. Hobbs reported finding a six to seven thousand year old projectile point in one of the traps along the Potomac (Hobbs 1965, 1966). There has been some debate about who first constructed the weirs; engineer Dan Guzy (1999) argues that they were actually constructed during the colonial period by white and black settlers moving into this portion of Virginia and Maryland.   

Regardless of who originally built them, the Potomac fish weirs were used during the colonial period and nineteenth century.  Some weirs, blocking river navigation, were removed in the 18th and 19th centuries, much to the dismay of people living along the river (Scheel 2000).  

Today, eels are largely extinct in the Potomac, due to the construction of the hydroelectric dam near Shepherdstown, West Virginia.  The dam disrupts the eel’s life cycle, making it difficult for them to reproduce.

References

Booth, Sally Smith. 1971. Hung, Strung and Potted: A History of Eating in Colonial America. Clarkson N. Potter, New York.

Bowdich, Mrs. T. Edward. 1828.  The Fresh-water Fishes of Great Britain. Ackermann, London.

Guzy, Dan.  1999.  Fish Weirs in the Upper Potomac River.  Maryland Archeology.

Hobbs, Horace P. 1965.  Rock Dams in the Upper Potomac. Archaeological Society of Virginia, Quarterly Bulletin, Vol. 19, No. 4, pp. 96-98. 

Hobbs, Horace P. 1966.  Rock Dams in the Upper Potomac (Conclusion?). Archaeological Society of Virginia, Quarterly Bulletin, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 21-23.  

Scheel, Eugene.  2000. Fishing Out Evidence of Indian Heritage.  Washington Post. July 16, 2000. Website accessed July 24, 2020 at https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/2000/07/16/fishing-out-evidence-of-indian-heritage/44edc5ee-ff1c-4923-a5de-8a3374a89518/.

Schweid, Richard.  2002. Consider the Eel. Gastronomica , Vol. 2, No. 2 (Spring 2002), pp. 14-19.

Strandberg, Carl H. and Ray Tomlinson. 1969. Photoarchaeological Analysis of Potomac River Fish Traps. American Antiquity. Vol. 34, No. 3: 312-319.

Wilding, Sam.  2018. American Eel.  Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.  United States of America, North Carolina/Northwest Atlantic. Pots, Fyke nets, barriers, fences, weirs, corrals, etc. Website accessed June 11, 2020 at https://www.seafoodwatch.org/-/m/2e1924111fca41dfa385df05a239de04.pdf

“Heading” for Trouble in the Maryland Colony?


One of the more intriguing 17th-century artifacts found in Maryland is this ceramic figurine of a king (Figure 1). The broken artifact measures around 6 inches tall; originally the figurine would have stood about 10 inches in height (Grulich 2008).  The headless monarch is clad in armor, holds a sword in his right hand and an orb topped with a cross in his left. The figurine, broken into two pieces, was found in 1998 at the Charles’ Gift Site (18ST704), on Naval Air Station Patuxent River. It had been deposited in a large trash midden containing ceramics dating its filling between 1682 and 1700 (Polglase 2001:179). The Charles Gift property was home at this time to Nicholas Sewall, stepson of Charles Calvert, governor of the Maryland colony. Cecil Calvert (1605-1675), the 2nd Lord Baltimore, established the Maryland colony, ruling it as its First Proprietor. His son Charles (1637-1715) was the 3rd Lord Baltimore and, unlike his father, lived in the colony that he governed.

Figure 1. Headless king figurine from the Charles’ Gift site (18ST704). Courtesy Naval District Washington, Naval Air Station Patuxent River.

Why would this figurine have found its way to the Maryland colony? There is some evidence that these figurines were produced as souvenirs of coronations and sold at fairs in England (Grulich 2008). It is possible that the Sewall family either purchased the figurine themselves, or had it shipped from England for display in their home. It may have been displayed in a room used for formal entertaining and signaled to visitors Sewall’s allegiance to the British throne.

Maryland prides itself on having been an early pioneer in the principles of religious toleration, welcoming Catholics, Puritans, Anglicans and Quakers.  The colony’s proprietary government was often led by Roman Catholic governors closely tied to the Calvert family from 1634 to 1689.  This religious tolerance marked the colony for the first five decades of settlement. But as the 17th century drew to a close, political events in England led to turbulent times in the Maryland colony. The 1689 Protestant Uprising sparked by the 1688 Glorious Revolution in England, which replaced the Catholic king with Protestant monarchs King William III and Queen Mary II, ended Catholic governance in Maryland. For the next two and a half decades, the Maryland colony was governed directly by the British crown.

Nicholas Sewall retained his loyalty to the Calvert family during the rebellion and fled from his home at Charles’ Gift to refuge in Virginia. He returned to his plantation only sporadically in the ensuing years. It is tempting to hypothesize that the headless king figurine may have been a victim of the political and religious turmoil.  Is it possible that Sewall, after Catholic King James was deposed and replaced by Protestant monarchs, destroyed and discarded this depiction of the new royal authority?  Or, was it damage and discard just the result of an unintended household accident?  We will never know, but it is interesting to consider this object in light of the tumultuous early history of the colony.

There are several other 17th-century sites in southern Maryland where artifacts containing depictions of kingly figures have been recovered.  Another broken white clay kingly figurine was found at the Middle Plantation site in Ann Arundel County (Grulich 2008).  A fragment of a tin-glazed earthenware charger with a painted depiction of an unidentified royal figure was found at the Angelica Knoll site (18CV60) in Calvert County (Figure 2) and a complete German Hohrware jug with a portrait of England’s King William III was found at Westwood Manor in Charles County (Figure 3).  Archaeologists who studied this site speculated that property resident John Bayne used this object, as well as stoneware tankards bearing the king’s initials and a set of framed likenesses of William and Mary listed in his estate inventory, to demonstrate his loyalty to the Protestant monarch and the Church of England at a time when the King had just supported the overthrow of the colony’s Catholic-run government (King, Arnold-Lourie, and Shaffer 2008; Alexander et al. 2010).  

Figure 2. Fragments of a tin-glazed charger with a royal figure similar to the one depicted on the complete example shown to the right. These fragments were recovered from a cellar at the Angelica Knoll Site (18CV60), whose artifacts date from c. 1650 to 1770. Photographs courtesy of the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory.
Figure 3. Hohrware jug from the Westwood Manor site (18CH621), depicting King William III. Photograph courtesy of Dr. Julia A. King, St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

These kingly artifacts may be emblematic of the power struggles between Protestant and Catholic political factions in early Maryland. After the Protestant uprisings of 1689, religious toleration would not be regained in Maryland until the end of the 18th century. Regardless of their political and religious meanings, they hold a fascination for us today as enigmatic objects.  In fact, the headless king figurine was the subject of Maryland’s 2005 Archeology Month poster – an entry which won a prize in the 2006 poster contest of the Society for American Archaeology.

Figure 4. The headless monarch figurine featured on the 2005 Maryland Archeology Month poster. Poster image courtesy of the Archeological Society of Maryland.

References

Alexander, Allison, Skylar A. Bauer, Patricia H. Byers, Seth Farber, Alex J. Flick, Juliana Franck, Ben Garbart, Grace Gutowski, Julianna Jackson, Mark R. Koppel, Amy Publicover, Maria Tolbert, Verioska Torres, Alexandra Unger, Jerry S. Warner, Justin Warrenfeltz, Julia A. King, editor and Scott M. Strickland, researcher.

2010. The Westwood Manor Archaeological Collection: Preliminary Interpretations. Report prepared by the Archaeology Practicum Class, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, St. Mary’s City, Maryland.

Anne Dowling Grulich. 

2008. An Enigmatic Monarch:  The Biography of a Headless, Mold-made, White Pipe Clay King Recovered in 17th-Century Maryland.  Website accessed May 12, 2020 at https://jefpat.maryland.gov/Documents/mac-lab/grulich-anne-dowling-enigmatic-monarch-biography-headless-mold-made-white-pipe-clay-king-recovered-in-17th-century-md.pdf.

King, Julia, Christine Arnold-Lourie, and Susan Shaffer

2008. Pathways to History; Charles County Maryland, 1658-2008. Smallwood Foundation, Inc., Mt. Victoria, Md.

Christopher Polglase. 

2001. Phase III Archaeological Data Recovery at Site 18ST704 Naval Air Station Patuxent River, St. Mary’s County, MD.  Final report by R. Christopher Goodwin & Associates, Inc., Frederick, MD.  On file at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab.

John Stuart Skinner and The American Farmer


It’s April and the season when I enjoy watching friends post about readying their gardens for summer crops-amending the soil and planting starter pots of tomatoes, basil and squash. This year in particular, as we all practice social distancing and struggle with finding safe and home-based activities, I suspect that summer gardens are bound to provide plentiful harvests.

Figure 1. Agricultural hoe from a well at Oxon Hill Plantation in Prince George’s County, Maryland. The well was filled between 1710 and 1750.

Having the correct tools is certainly a boon to home gardeners, as well as more serious farmers. This was no less true in early America. The iron hoe shown in Figure 1 was recovered from a well filled prior to 1750 at the Oxon Hill Plantation (18PR175) along the Potomac River. At that time, the primary cash crop on the plantation would have been tobacco and this particular type of broad hoe was known as a “Virginia” or “weeding” hoe (Evans 2012). Agriculture has always been an important economic driver in Virginia and Maryland and knowledge about farming has always been an important consideration.

Just over a century ago, in April of 1819, Calvert County native John Stuart Skinner began publishing the first agricultural journal in the United States. Entitled The American Farmer (Figure 2), this publication aimed to provide accurate knowledge about new agricultural technologies, animal husbandry, and farm commodity prices, in order to re-invigorate agriculture after its nadir during the War of 1812 (American Farmer 1819). The publication, whose first issue appeared on April 2, 1819, was a weekly periodical with a booklet format of eight pages (Pinkett 1950). The American Farmer’s subtitle was “Rural Economy, Internal Improvements, News, Prices Current” and a subscription could be had for four dollars a year.  

Figure 2. The American Farmer masthead for April 2, 1819.

Skinner’s publication was very popular and he retained agents in Philadelphia, Raleigh, Richmond, New York, Boston and Charleston within four years of beginning publication (Berryman 1982). The American Farmer was also endorsed by a number of noteworthy men, including Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Andrew Jackson. Skinner’s publication was part of a larger movement within the United States to improve agriculture through the application of scientific principles.

John Stuart Skinner Lithograh by F. D’Avignon (From the Farm Book), 1851

Having been raised on “The Reserve”, a plantation in rural Calvert County, to a family of farmers, Skinner was knowledgeable about agriculture (Berryman 1982). But farming was not his only interest; Skinner was an interesting man with a variety of careers (Figure 3). Born in 1788, he began practicing as an attorney at the age of twenty-one. He served in the Navy during the War of 1812, was a mail inspector and a federal agent for prisoner exchange, held the position of postmaster of Baltimore from 1816 to 1837 and later was the Assistant Postmaster General of the United States (Pinkett 1950).

Although Skinner ended his involvement in The American Farmer in 1830 in order to pursue publication of a sporting magazine (Berryman 1982:47), the periodical continued to be published until 1897. Often considered “the father of American farm journalism”, Skinner remained involved in publications on agriculture and sporting topics until his untimely accidental death in 1851. 

References

American Farmer. 1819. The American Farmer. August 13, and 20, 1819.

Jack W. Berryman. 1982. Sport, Health, and the Rural-Urban Conflict; Baltimore and John Stuart Skinner’s American Farmer, 1819-1829. Conspectus of History, Volume 1, No. 8. Website accessed April 14, 2020 at https://dmr.bsu.edu/digital/collection/ConspectusH/id/624.

Chris Evans. 2012. The Plantation Hoe: The Rise and Fall of an Atlantic Commodity, 1650–1850. The William and Mary Quarterly. Vol. 69, No. 1 (January 2012), pp. 71-100.

Harold T. Pinkett. 1950. The “American Farmer,” a Pioneer Agricultural Journal, 1819-1834. Agricultural History, Vol. 24, No. 3 (July, 1950), pp. 146-151. Website accessed April 10, 2020 at https://www.jstor.org/stable/3741028.

The Phillips Bros Champion Bottling Works: A Baltimore-Based Bottling Company’s Knock-Out Advertising


Some of the best advertisements are ones of memorable imagery or catchy slogans, a method still utilized in today’s marketing. With a boxing scene and a tagline of “A Knockout for Thirst” the Phillips Brothers Champion Bottling Works certainly developed these marketing methods while in production from 1893 through the mid-1930s (The Re-ly-On Bottler). Based in Baltimore, Maryland the Phillips’ Brothers Company bottled “non-alcoholic maltless beverages” and were best known for their ginger-ale (The Official Gazette 1945: 539).

Figure A: An example of a typical aqua glass bottle from the Phillips Brothers Bottling Works. The bottle and corresponding illustration (Figure B) display the Baltimore-based company’s trade-mark design of a boxing match with the victor standing over the defeated competition.
Figure B: This image supported their company’s tag line of being “A Knockout for Thirst”
(Illustration credit: Alex Glass).

The Phillips Brothers consisted of the Henry Lake, John D., Levin W. and Howard S. Phillips. The company was first started by Levin and Howards Phillips, being later joined by Henry Lake, who over time became the senior member of the brothers’ enterprise. The company was a central member of the Maryland bottling business community and an active member of the American Bottler’s Protective associations (American Bottler 1920).

The center of the Phillips Brothers company was a state-of-the-art factory, operated by top-of-the-line machinery for the time. One of the main innovative machines on their line was the Shields six-head rotary filling machine (Fig. C). With two of the Shields filling machines operating on the production line, the company went from turning out a few dozen bottles daily to 6,000 dozen bottles of soda each day.

Figure C: The Shields six-head rotary filing machine developed the brothers’ bottling company from a few dozen bottle producing company into a highly functioning, high yielding production line of thousands of bottles every day (The Re-ly-on Bottler).

The glass bottles would only interact with machinery through the entire process. First starting with a three-compartment soaking machine, bottles were soaked in three different baths of a caustic soda solution to sanitize the bottles. After being submerged in the super-heated baths at 110, 120 and 130 degrees, they were rinsed out via automatic washing machines that cycled between brushing and rinsing (The Re-ly-on Bottler). Freshly cleaned out, the bottles were then filled with the various carbonated beverages of the Phillips’ Brothers line of products. Most known for their ginger ale, the company also produced sarsaparilla and lemon, orange, and chocolate soda, as well as cola. 

Figure D: Examples of bottle paper labels for the company’s ginger ale and sarsaparilla soda brands from a private collection.
Figure E: A wooden bottle crate from the bottling company from a private collection.

The bottles were then sealed using the innovative lightning closure first patented by Charles De Quillfeldt on January 5th, 1875 before Karl Hutter took over the patent and popularized the design in 1877. This stopper design revolutionized the bottling industry as the seal created by leveraging a rubber disk into the lip of the bottle proved a reliable sealing system (von Mechow 2018).   

Figure F: The trade-mark logo of the Phillips Brothers Bottling Company stamped on a porcelain Hutter lightning bottle closure seal.
Figure G: The bottom of the same porcelain seal bears the K. Hutter name and patent date of “Feb 3 1893”.

References

American Bottler. 1920. Volume 30. Web accessed March 24, 2020.

Champion Beverages Well Named; Efficient Baltimore Company Has Catchy Slogan. The Re-ly-on Bottler: A Magazine of Idea and Ideals for the Bottling Trade. 1922. The International Cork Co. Volumes 3-6. Web accessed March 5, 2020.

The Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office. 1945. Volume 581.

Von Mechow, Tod. 2018. Bottle Attributes – Beer Bottle Closures. Soda & Beer Bottles of North America. Website accessed March 23, 2020.

The Rise of “Smallish Cigars” – How Cigarettes Became the World’s Most Popular Tobacco Product


Figure 1. Vanity Fair advertising sign from the Baltimore Federal Site (18BC33). Length: 12″.

In 1983, during excavations conducted in advance of the construction of the Baltimore Savings and Loan Association Building, archaeologists discovered a brick-lined privy that had been filled early in the fourth quarter of the 19th century.  The soil filling the privy contained multiple fragments of a blue glass advertising sign for Vanity Fair Cigarettes (Figure 1). 

Tobacco has a long history in Maryland; it formed the backbone of the colony’s agricultural production beginning soon after English settlement in the 17th century.  Tobacco hasn’t been called the state’s “money crop” for no reason; in 2010, tobacco revenues brought 546.5 million dollars into the Maryland economy (CDC 2012).

In addition to growing tobacco, Maryland’s citizens have enjoyed using it in a variety of forms over the centuries—“sipping” it through clay pipes in the 17th and 18th centuries, inhaling powdered snuff, puffing on cigars and chewing plugs of dried tobacco. Some users rolled cigarettes by hand, a practice that seems to have first appeared in the 17th century when Spanish street urchins rolled tobacco in newspaper (Cross and Proctor 2014:63). The smoking of these “smallish cigars” increased during the 19th century, particularly after English soldiers developed a taste for Turkish cigarettes during the Crimean War (Elliott 2009). Cigarette factories began to open in the United States after the Civil War.

William S. Kimball’s Peerless Tobacco Works of Rochester, New York manufactured several brands of cigarettes, including theVanity Fair (Figure 3) brand sold at Baltimore’s Federal Site (18BC33) (Elliott 2009, Shilling 2012:168). The company opened in 1867 and merged with the American Tobacco Company in 1890. New York City, Richmond, and Baltimore joined Rochester as production centers for cigarettes after the Civil War (Elliott 2009).  In Baltimore, the Marburg Tobacco Company and F. W. Felgner and Son were two of the “big six” U. S. cigarette firms that controlled 75% of national sales by the 1870s (Elliott 2009).

Figure 2. Bonsack’s cigarette rolling machine, as shown on U.S. Patent 238,640.

Today, six trillion cigarettes are smoked annually—enough to circumnavigate the globe 15,000 times (Cross and Proctor 2014:61). It took the invention of the automated rolling machine for cigarettes to achieve the popularity they hold today. A skilled worker could hand roll three to four cigarettes a minute (Anchor 2020).  With the invention of the Bonsack rolling machine in 1880 (Figure 2), that rate increased to 210 cigarettes a minute, or 120,000 in ten hours (Edwards 2015). The device rolled tobacco into a continuous strip of paper that was pasted and then cut into appropriate lengths with a rotary knife. James Albert Bonsack’s impetus for inventing the first reliable rolling machine was a $75,000 prize offered by the Allen & Ginter Company of Richmond, Virginia (Cross and Proctor 2014:71). The American Tobacco Company quickly adopted the machine and the availability and popularity of cigarettes began to take off. The use of automation standardized the size of cigarettes and allowed them to be more easily packaged for sale.  

Figure 3. Advertising card for New Vanity Fair Cigarettes, circa 1880s. Cigarette manufacturers were the first to use color lithography commercially (Cross and Proctor 2014).

With the increasing popularity of cigarettes, the number of purveyors of tobacco-related products in Baltimore began to soar.  The Baltimore Sun reported at the turn of the century that there were 2,000 tobacco stores in Baltimore (Rasmussen 1996).

At the turn of the 20th century, machine-manufactured cigarettes only made up four to five percent of tobacco productions consumed in the United States (Cross and Proctor 2014:69).  Cigarette smoking became fashionable among wealthy men during the early years of the 20th century and free cigarettes were provided to service members during World War I, causing smoking to become more prevalent.  Interestingly, the link between lung cancer and smoking was made as early as 1911 (CA-A n.d.:294), but the idea did not gain traction amongst the medical community until mid-century. Today, smoking is believed to be responsible for the deaths of 480,000 persons in the United States annually, making cigarettes the deadliest of consumer products. 

References

Anchor.  2020. The Bonsack Machine and Labor Unrest.  Anchor; A North Carolina History Online Resource.  Website accessed February 7, 2020 at https://www.ncpedia.org/anchor/bonsack-machine-and-labor.

CA-A. Classics in Oncology:  Isaac Adler, M.D. (1849-1918). Cancer Journal for Clinicians. Pp. 294. Website accessed February 8, 2020 at https://acsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.3322/canjclin.30.5.294.

Center for Disease Control (CDC). 2012. State Tobacco Revenues Compared with Tobacco Control Appropriations — United States, 1998–2010. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). May 25, 2012 / 61(20):370-374. Website accessed February 8, 2020 at https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6120a3.htm.

Cross, Gary S. and Robert N. Proctor.  2014.  Packaged Pleasures; How Technology and Marketing Revolutionized Desire.  University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Elliott, Richard. 2009.  The Early History of Cigarettes in America. Brandstand Vol 34: (Spring 2009). Website accessed February 8, 2020 at http://cigarhistory.info/Cigarette_items/Cigarette-History.html.

Edwards, Phil.  2015.  What Everyone Gets Wrong About the History of Cigarettes.  Vox.  April 6, 2015.

Rasmussen, Fred.  1996.  Cigars Boasted Guardians Figures: In Smoking’s Heyday, Indian Statues Stood Outside Many of the City’s 2,000 Tobacconists.  December 1, 1996.  Website accessed February 7, 2020 at https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-1996-12-01-1996336203-story.html.

Shilling, Donovan A.  2012 They Put Rochester on the Map; Personalities of Rochester’s Past.

Prohibition, Beer and Baltimore


Figure 1. Beer bottle dated c. 1910 from the
Monumental Brewing Company of Baltimore, Maryland.

As I perused social media and news feeds early in January, I kept coming across stories about the benefits of a dry January. An alcohol-free month was not in my cards, however, because an early January archaeological conference meant lots of social beers with colleagues. 

One hundred years ago this month, in January of 1920, citizens of the United States began to experience a long, dry period as Prohibition got underway. Congress passed the 18th Amendment in October of 1919, following it on January 16, 1920 with the passage of the Volstead Act, designed to enforce Prohibition.  The amendment made it illegal to produce, transport and sell alcohol in the United States. With the exception of Maryland, every U.S. state passed state-level versions of the Volstead Act (Walsh 2017).

Resistance to Prohibition was strong in Maryland, which had elected “wet” governor Albert Ritchie in 1920 (Ciammachilli 2019). This resistance even earned Maryland its nickname of the “Free State” in 1922 (Walsh 2017). Lawmakers in Baltimore especially opposed Prohibition.  Despite opposition within the city, however, the effects of the ban on alcohol were almost immediate, with the closing of bars, saloons and breweries (Levy 2016).  Of Baltimore, the American newspaper wrote that “gloom fell over the wet trade” (cited in Walsh 2017).

Baltimore has always been a city of breweries. The city’s first breweries were established in the first half of the 18th century and produced British-style ales. The bird’s eye view of the city shown on the 1869 Sasche Map illustrates at least 15 breweries, some of them with beer gardens. This preponderance of breweries can be traced back to the increasing German immigration, beginning in the 1840s. Germans brought with them a love of lighter lager beers, whose production began to predominate in the city’s beer manufacturing.  

Figure 2. Illustration of George Bauernschmidt’s brewery as shown on the 1869 Sasche Map of Baltimore. Baurenschmidt opened his brewery in 1864 and remained in operation until 1898, when he and a number of other breweries consolidated into the American Brewery Company. Digital version of the map available at https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3844b.pm002540/?r=0.093,0.004,0.101,0.062,0.

Beer bottles are a common find at archaeological sites, beginning in the second half of the 19th century.  The Monumental Brewing Company bottle shown in Figure 1 was found in a privy sealed around 1910 at the Federal Reserve Site (18BC27) in the Otterbein neighborhood of Baltimore.  The Monumental Brewing Company opened in 1900, but went out of business in 1920, at the start of Prohibition.  

Baltimore’s breweries reacted in one of two ways during Prohibition.  Some manufacturers, including the National Brewing Company and the American Brewery, went out of business (Levy 2016).  Others, like Gunther and Globe, managed to keep their doors open by manufacturing “near” beers—beverages that contained less than one half of one percent of alcohol by volume (Levy 2016).

General opinion holds that Prohibition was a failure (Buck 2013). Alcohol consumption was only moderately reduced by the legal restrictions, while organized crime centered on the illegal production and sale of alcohol soared.  Opposed to the 18th Amendment, Baltimore writer H. L. Mencken famously wrote, “there is not less drunkenness in the Republic, but more”. The U.S. ban against the production, transportation and sale of alcohol was ultimately to last for 13 years. In 1933, the 21st Amendment ended Prohibition, making the 18th Amendment the only constitutional amendment ever repealed in our country.  Baltimore’s breweries rebounded and are still successful today.

References

Buck, Betty. 2013. The Failed Experiment of Prohibition.  Baltimore Sun.  Website accessed January 27, 2020 at https://www.baltimoresun.com/opinion/op-ed/bs-ed-beer-20131204-story.html.

Ciammachilli, Esther.  2019.  Booze!  Causing Political Fights in Maryland for 100 Years.  WAMU 88.5 American University Radio, March 4, 2019.  Website accessed January 27, 2020 at https://wamu.org/story/19/03/04/booze-causing-political-fights-in-maryland-for-100-years/.

Levy, Sidney.  2016. Lost City:  Local Taverns and Big Breweries. Underbelly. Maryland Historical Society.  February 18, 2016.  Website accessed January 27, 2020 at http://www.mdhs.org/underbelly/2016/02/18/lost-city-local-taverns-and-big-breweries/.

Walsh, Michael T. 2017. Baltimore Prohibition:  Wet and Dry in the Free State. American Palate; A Division of the History Press, Charleston, S.C.

First Central Bank of the United States


Figure 1.  Front of a cast iron bank from the Nathan Mansfield privy (c. 1850-1870) at the Federal Reserve Site (18BC27) in Baltimore.

This flat piece of cast iron (Figure 1) was once part of a coin bank produced around 1872 by J. & E. Stevens of Cromwell, Connecticut. Known as a still bank (to distinguish them from mechanical banks, which had moving parts), this little repository was a bank shaped like a bank building (Figure 2).  To make matters even more interesting, this artifact was recovered from an archaeological excavation in Baltimore at the future site of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, on Sharp Street.


Figure 2.  Complete J. & E. Stevens bank from a private collection.

This archaeological artifact thus seems like a good entry into an exploration of our nation’s early central banking history.  Today’s Federal Reserve Bank is the country’s third central banking system.  The first—the First Bank of the United States—operated from 1791 to 1811 and was the brainchild of our nation’s first Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton (Figure 3).

The newly-formed United States was left facing a sizable public debt at the end of the Revolutionary War.  Hamilton’s voracious reading habits, coupled with his experience as a clerk for a Caribbean merchant, left him with a sound understanding of economic systems.  Prior to proposing a national bank, he helped found the Bank of New York in 1784 (PBS 2019). He envisioned the formation of a central bank that would stimulate the economy and provide much-needed credit for building the new nation.  Hamilton’s 1790 proposal to Congress for a national bank was passed into law in early 1791. Hamilton’s other fiscal achievements included establishment of the U. S. Mint, consolidating the states’ debts into a national debt handled by the US Treasury and creating taxes on domestic production to help fund the military (Federal Reserve 2019).


Figure 3.  Alexander Hamilton, circa 1790. By Charles Shirreff – Magnet, Myron (2013) The Founders at Home: The Building of America, 1735–1817, W. W. Norton & Company, p. 492 ISBN: 978-0393241884., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61422753.

The First Bank of the United States, located in Philadelphia (Figure 4), was chartered for twenty years.  The Federal Government held twenty percent ownership in its ten million dollars of capital. The bank fulfilled numerous financial/fiscal roles:  tax collection, credit extension, issuing standard currency, making commercial loans, handling foreign exchange and serving as a depository for government funds. In addition to rapidly stabilizing the national economy, the bank helped position the United States on equal financial footing with European nations.

Figure 4. Bank of the United States, in Third Street Philadelphia [graphic] / Drawn, Engraved & Published by W. Birch & Son.; Philadelphia: W. Birch & Son, 1799.

From its beginning, centralized banking met with opposition.  The agrarian southern states, as represented by politicians like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, were against the bank, while the more industrialized northern states were in favor.  The split eventually helped lead to the formation of our nation’s first two political parties – the pro-bank Federalist party and the anti-bank Democratic-Republicans.  Opponents saw the central bank as an overreach of executive branch power—similar to the opposition by state-chartered banks, who felt central financial control was an insult to state’s rights and unwanted competition.  

Republican control of the executive branch, beginning at the turn of the 19th century, led to the bank’s charter not being renewed at the end of its initial twenty-year term. Due to the dissolution of the First Central Bank in 1811, the United States was faced with economic difficulty during the War of 1812, when there was no central bank to fund the military (PBS 2019). James Madison, initially an opponent to centralized banking, supported the creation of the second centralized banking system in 1817.  Andrew Jackson did not renew the charter for the Second Bank of the United States in 1836 and it was not until 1913 that the third iteration of central banking – the Federal Reserve—was created (Britannica 2019).

References

Britannica Online Encyclopedia.  2019  Bank of the United States.  Encyclopaedia Britannica. Website accessed December 17, 2019 at https://www.britannica.com/topic/Bank-of-the-United-States.

Federal Reserve.  2019  Alexander Hamilton.  Federal Reserve History.  Website accessed December 17, 2019 at https://www.federalreservehistory.org/people/alexander_hamilton.

Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).  2019  Alexander Hamilton; Establishing a National Bank.  American Experience.  Website accessed December 17, 2019 at https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/establishing-national-bank/.

Two Transportation Firsts – the Old National Pike and the National Road


Figure 1. Stone mileage marker from the National Road. Scale is one-meter long. Photo courtesy of the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab and the Maryland Department of Transportation, State Highways Administration.

As travelers drive along our nation’s highways, their eyes are literally assaulted by a never-ending stream of billboards and towering signs advertising fast food restaurants, shopping centers and gas stations.  Useful information for the traveler to be sure, as are the green reflective signs that display the distance to cities and towns farther along the road. What a different experience we would have had as a traveler in the 19th century. Simple marker posts crafted of carved stone were the norm two centuries ago, providing travelers with directional and mileage information.

This gray limestone marker once stood in Maryland along the Old National Pike, which stretched from Baltimore to Cumberland, Maryland. Maryland holds the distinction of being the first Mid-Atlantic state to finance and maintain its road with a tolled turnpike system. Funded by a group of Baltimore banks, the road was built by several turnpike companies, including the Baltimore-Fredericktown Turnpike Company, beginning in the first decade of the 19th century.  Stone markers were spaced at mile intervals along the road, which joined the National Road at Cumberland. 

Mile marker 119 arrived at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum in 2018 for cleaning prior to its upcoming installation at the National Road Museum in Boonsboro, Maryland. It is believed to have been removed from the road right-of-way in the Flintstone area around 1987, when Interstate 68 was constructed.

As the U. S. population began moving west of the Allegheny Mountains into the Ohio River Valley in the late 18th century, the need for easy and reliable overland travel became more pressing.  In 1806, the U. S. Congress authorized the Thomas Jefferson administration  toconstruct another transportation first.  The National Road was the first federally funded infrastructure project of our new nation (Longfellow 2017).  The government used part of the proceeds of land sales in Ohio to fund the project. The National Road eventually extended all the way from Cumberland, Maryland to Vandalia, Illinois.

Figure 2. Extent of the National Road. Courtesy of the National Park Service. https://www.nps.gov/fone/learn/historyculture/nationalroad.htm

The road itself had its origins in a military road constructed in 1754 and 1755 by General Edward Braddock’s troops during the French and Indian War (NPS 2015).  The twelve-foot wide road extended from Fort Cumberland to Fort Duquesne, in what is now Pittsburgh.  Construction actually began on the National Road in 1811 (Jensen 2019), first with improvements to Braddock’s Road, followed by extending the highway from Pittsburgh to Wheeling, West Virginia.

The construction suffered a series of stops and starts over the following decades, but the road had reached Vandalia by 1839, an ultimate distance of 620 miles (Jensen 2019). The twenty-foot wide road made possible travel to the Midwest for stagecoaches carrying people and mail, and Conestoga wagons carrying freight.  Towns offering services like taverns, blacksmith shops and livery stables sprang up and thrived along the length of the road.

The development of the railroad spelled a temporary death knell for the National Road, but it saw a resurgence after the invention of the automobile and the rise in popularity of motor touring (NPS 2015).  In 1926, the National Road was designated as U. S. Route 40 and served as a major east-west artery until the interstate system was established in the 1950s with the passage of the Federal-Aid Highway Act. Today there are websites and blogs devoted to driving the length of Route 40, with a focus on the highway’s historical context and attractions (Brusca 2019; Srinivasan 2019).

Stone mileage markers began to disappear early in the 20th century, with the introduction of standardized highway signage.  Today, 69 stone mile markers are still standing along the route of the Old National Pike in Maryland and they have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places (MHT 2019).  The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highways Administration’s Cultural Resources Section has created an inventory of historic mile markers throughout the state using ArcGIS, a geographic information system.  The inventory contains description, location, and condition information for each marker, as well as photographs.  Interested readers can find out more at https://maryland.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=374856d5ea864183847d22b158af102a.

Acknowledgments:  The author would like to thank Dr. Julie Schablitsky, Chief of the Cultural Resources Division at the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration and Terry Maxwell, Public Involvement Coordinator at the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration for their assistance with this post.

References

Brusca, Frank.  2019  Return to Route 40; A Half Century of Landscape Change along a Transcontinental American Highway. Website accessed November 20, 2019 at http://www.route40.net/page.asp?n=1.

Jensen, Rich.  2019  National Road:  America’s First Interstate. Website accessed November 10, 2019 at   http://www.historynet.com/national-road-americas-first-highway.htm.  

Longfellow, Rickie.  2017  Back in Time; the National Road.  U. S. Department of Transportation. Federal Highway Administration.  Website accessed November 10, 2019 at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/back0103.cfm

Maryland Historical Trust (MHT).  2019  Old National Pike. Maryland Historical Trust MEDUSA. https://mht.maryland.gov/secure/Medusa/PDF/Allegany/AL-I-B-077.pdf.

National Park Service (NPS).  2015  The National Road.  The National Park Service.  Website accessed November 10, 2019 at https://www.nps.gov/fone/learn/historyculture/nationalroad.htm

Srinivasan, Sriram. 2019   Driving the Historic National Road, from Start to Finish.  Travel Codex.  Website accessed November 20, 2019 at https://www.travelcodex.com/driving-the-historic-national-road-from-almost-start-to-almost-finish/.