JPPM Blog Takes a New Direction


For the past four years, Jefferson Patterson Park in Museum has hosted a blog entitled “Dirty Little Secrets.” We have enjoyed bringing you news of happenings at the park, about artifacts in the MAC Lab collections and about objects that have come here for conservation. But starting next week, our blog will take a new and exciting direction. Its focus will be on archaeological artifacts and how they help reveal the larger stories of Maryland’s past. Most of the artifacts highlighted will be from the collections of the Maryland Historical Trust, but upon occasion we will feature guest bloggers writing about artifacts curated at other institutions. Because the blog’s focus is changing, we are also changing its name to “Maryland History by the Object.” Continue reading

President Grover Cleveland Match Safe


Grover Cleveland Match Safe 2

This small, decorative object depicting the profile of President Grover Cleveland is the partial remains of a match safe recovered from the Jackson Homestead site, an African-American site in Montgomery County, MD. The complete object, measuring 6.5 cm by 4.5 cm, would have had a matching profile on the opposite side and a hinged lid at the neck. Match safes were small, portable metal cases used to keep matches dry and, since early matches could be unreliable, a match safe also prevented accidental ignition. They came into use in the 1830s and were particularly popular between 1890 and 1920. Match safes of political figures were common as campaign items.

Complete Vessels Emerge from Fragments at Huntingtown High School


This week’s blog is an update on our project with Huntingtown High School’s Introduction to Historical Investigations class. If you read the earlier blog entry (December 10, 2012), you might remember that the students are analyzing the household garbage discarded in a Baltimore privy (aka outhouse) during the mid-19th century. Continue reading

1748 – A Bad Year for the Smith Family


The late summer and early fall of 1748 was apparently a difficult period for the Smith family, who lived at the Smith’s St. Leonard archaeological site. Between August 28th and October 22nd of that year 3, possibly 4, members of the family died from unknown causes. At least, causes unknown to us. Continue reading

Hands-On History


JPPM enjoys a productive relationship with Huntingtown High School and Social Studies teacher Jeff Cunningham. In previous years, Jeff’s archaeology classes, under the supervision of Education Director Kim Popetz, produced three cell phone tours for the park. The students worked on the audio tour projects at every level, including conducting oral history interviews, developing tour themes and scripts, recording the tours and writing press releases about the projects. Continue reading

Update from Smith St. Leonard Site


cellar floor
Alex Glass contemplates mapping the cellar floor brick.

The field crew has been taking advantage of this unseasonably nice weather to continue exploring the presumed storehouse cellar at the Smith St. Leonard site. The test unit now reaches almost six feet below the ground surface and the hoped-for brick floor (see blog entry from November 19th) has finally emerged. The projecting area of brick at the lower right of the photograph is either part of a bulkhead entrance into the cellar or part of a brick hearth. Diagnostic artifacts remain elusive, so we are still unsure when the cellar was filled.

Remote Sensing Success at the Smith’s St. Leonard Site


Earlier in 2012, JPPM hired geophysicist Tim Horsley to conduct three different types of remote sensing—ground penetrating radar, magnetometer, and soil resistivity—across the Smith’s St. Leonard site. These types of geophysical surveys can help reveal the locations of subsurface disturbances such as wells, privies, and building cellars prior to putting a shovel into the ground, and are a valuable tool for helping plan excavation. Tim observed numerous subsurface anomalies, including a large, deep anomaly in the area where an eighteenth-century storehouse may have been located.

Tim Horsley resistivity meter, with Christa
Volunteer Christa Conant assists Tim Horsley with soil resistivity testing at the Smith’s St. Leonard site.

Preliminary GPR south end
The red outlined box at the lower right depicts the projected location of the cellar.

Alex, Ed and Annette worked throughout the summer and fall to remove the overlying plowed soil from areas where Tim’s testing had found anomalies. In every location that Tim predicted a subsurface feature, the digging showed the accuracy of his testing. As October drew to an end, the decision was made to test the possible storehouse cellar. Tim predicted that this 20 by 20 ft. feature would contain large quantities of brick at a depth of about four feet.

18CV91 - 2233F Alex excavating in cellar(3)
Field technician Alex Glass has the unenviable task of balancing on brick rubble as she digs!

And sure enough, after several days of careful troweling, Alex and Annette came upon a layer of brick rubble, about three feet under the ground surface! Way to go, Tim! The rubble has been removed and preliminary testing suggests that the cellar fill extends at least another foot or so deeper, possibly bottoming out on a brick floor. Unfortunately, the cellar soil has not been particularly artifact-rich, so we don’t yet have a good date on the filling of the cellar. In addition to wine bottle glass, oyster shell, and a few fragmented white clay tobacco pipes, the crew did find this nice brass buckle. Curator Sara Rivers Cofield believes it could have been part of a horse harness. We hope that continued work in the cellar will yield further clues about the function of the building and its construction and destruction dates.

buckle 18CV91 - 2233G
Ornately shaped brass buckle from the cellar fill.

Kids’ Work


What do making ice cream, doing laundry and playing marbles have in common? They are all part of an exciting new program for fourth graders, created by and being run by JPPM docents, under the guidance of Education Director Kim Popetz. Entitled “Kids’ Work”, this program takes a look at what life was like for African American children growing up in post-Civil War Calvert County. Continue reading

1812 Fair and Reenactment this Saturday. Come Early and Stay for Tavern Night!


 

By Erin Atkinson

JPPM War of 1812

Each September, JPPM holds a War of 1812 Reenactment. This event honors the battle that took place right on St. Leonard Creek in 1814. This year, thanks to Continue reading

Intern Spotlight


We would like to welcome Kelly McCauley, our newest conservation intern, to the MAC Lab. Kelly has a B.A. in Historic Preservation from the University of Mary Washington, where she specialized in archaeology. During her studies, she worked on excavations at Stratford Hall and, later, as a fire archaeologist for the National Park Service at Whiskeytown National Recreational Area. Since becoming involved in conservation, she has interned at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore and also with a private company, Conservation Solutions, Inc. Kelly will be with us for three months and, during her internship, she will be conserving both ceramic and iron artifacts. We are very happy to have her here!


Kelly preparing to conserve 19th-century ceramics