B. Smith Site (18AN1151)

The B. Smith Site (18AN1151) is the archaeological remnants of a mid-18th century to early 20th-century farmstead near Hanover. The site deposits reflect the changing nature of rural Anne Arundel County across the centuries. The site was first identified in 1999 as the result of a Combined Phase I/II investigation of a 116 acre area.

Phase I work in the vicinity of 18AN1151 entailed the excavation of 42 systematic shovel test pits at 20 meter intervals. The test pits revealed artifacts dating from the early 18th up to the middle 20th centuries. At the Phase II level of testing, two 1 X 1 m test unit were excavated to examine soil stratigraphy and site integrity and another 22 STPs were excavated to further define site boundaries. Field results suggested a possible early 18th century to early 20th century site, including the presence of subplowzone deposits. The Phase I/II assemblage recovered from 18AN1151, the B. Smith Site, reflects at least some areas of dense domestic deposits. Occupation dates would appear to cluster around two periods. The early occupation period is represented by the tin-glazed earthenware and creamware, and dates from the early to mid-18th century. A later period, represented by whiteware and cut nails, date from the latter part of the 19th century. 18AN1151 was subjected to Phase III data recovery in 2001.

Archival research revealed that the property was originally part of the 1762 patent of a 484 acre tract called “Plummer’s Pasture” to prominent Quaker Yate Plummer. Yate died in 1764 and his 1763 will suggests he made no improvements to Plummer’s Pasture. The land went to Yate’s son Daniel Plummer, the tract’s first documented inhabitant. In 1783, Daniel Plummer was assessed for 115 acres of land worth $115, one horse worth $10, and “other property” worth $2. By 1798, his assessment lists 120 acres, with a one story wood dwelling house 18 X 14 ft, a 16 X 12 ft outbuilding, and an additional 16 X 10 ft structure. Daniel Plummer left no living issue when he died in 1810. In 1814, Daniel’s brothers and heirs sold the 127 acre property to John Harman. There is no evidence to suggest that Harman or his heirs occupied the property. The Harman heirs sold it to a brother-in-law, Basil Smith in 1848. Basil Smith died in 1881, and a plat shows the division of his lands among his children. His son, Francis Marion Smith, inherited the portion of the property that includes the site, but Basil’s will notes that F. Marion Smith was already living on the parcel. Francis Marion married in 1852 and may have moved onto the parcel soon after. A household appears on an 1860 map and F. Marion Smith’s family is enumerated in the 1860 census. The couple had 3 children and real estate worth $7600, and $800 of personal property.

The 1860, 1870, and 1880 federal and agricultural censuses, as well as tax valuations, indicate the F. M. Smith farmstead was a comfortably wealthy household. The farmstead was above average in size and both livestock and produce production. F. Marion Smith died in 1896 and his three children inherited the farm. Oral history accounts portray Daniel Handy Smith as a talented and thoughtful farmer. There was a large two story frame main house and a tenant house on the farm by this time. The parcel was sold in 1936 to Mike and Mary Sroka. The Srokas began breaking the parcel into smaller house lots in the 1940s. Subdivision continued up until the late 1950s by which time the Smith farm had ceased to exist as an entity.

Phase III field investigations in 2001 concentrated on two previously identified concentrations of domestic artifacts, one believed to be associated with the earliest occupation by the Quaker Plummer family (Concentration One), and the second (Concentration Two) believed to be associated with the later Smith family occupation. A third study locus was added to encompass the unanticipated identification of a small fieldstone foundation with associated domestic materials (Foundation One). Fieldwork included excavation of 98 additional shovel test pits forming 10 meter or 5 meter interval testing grids and a total of 53 formal test units. Fifty-one of these were full one meter square excavation units.

Most cultural material recovered from Concentration One was recovered from the plowzone. Chronologically diagnostic artifacts ranged from the mid- 18th century through the mid- 20th century. A total of three cultural features were identified during fieldwork within Concentration One. Two of the cultural features represent postmolds probably reflecting farm fencing used between agricultural fields. The third cultural feature was a small trench of unknown function.

A total of 16 excavation units were placed within Concentration Two during the Phase III investigations: Feature 1 (plowscars) and Feature 12 (small diameter postmolds). Artifacts recovered were almost exclusively restricted to the plowzone (roughly 1400 artifacts total) or to contemporary topsoil (roughly 500 artifacts). Diagnostic artifacts spanned the 19th and 20th centuries, and most strongly represented the last half of the 19th and first quarter of the 20th.

Foundation One represents the unanticipated find of a small, roughly 16 X 18 ft fieldstone foundation. This locus proved to be the richest, and most intact of the three locations. Twenty seven test pits and 18 excavation units were excavated within the Foundation One locus, revealing little disturbance in the foundation vicinity and midden deposits. All units were comparatively artifact rich, and no extensive cultural disturbance was encountered in any of them. A total of 15 features were associated with the Foundation One area. Two represent lenses around the outer foundation walls. Four reflect extensive rodent disturbance. One feature may represent a post hole, but no postmold was present. Six of the features represent trash disposal pits and lenses, as does the midden itself. The final feature was the foundation itself. Chronologically, the material is concentrated in the last half of the 19th and first quarter of the 20th centuries.

Concentration 1 work promised to yield intact layers from the 18th-century occupation of site 18AN1511. Most of Concentration 1 had, in fact, been disturbed by subsequent plowing. Distributional analysis identified concentrations around an 80 ft square, suggesting the possible earlier presence of a structure. Without further evidence, it was not possible to confirm if a log or earthfast structure was once present. Artifacts indicate an occupation from the late 18th throughout the early 19th centuries by a family of the middle to upper socioeconomic status, and with the 18th century date this would have been the Plummer family, specifically Daniel Plummer. There were no deposits recovered with sufficient integrity to allow any specific research to be addressed.

Concentration 2 promised to yield information from the 18th- and 19th-century occupation, but testing revealed all deposits in Concentration 2 had been disturbed by plowing. The artifacts suggest this portion of the site dates slightly later than Concentration 1. No evidence was found for a possible building location. The disturbed nature of the deposits and the small size of the collection did not allow any meaningful interpretive statements to be made about Concentration 2.

Foundation 1 is believed to have been constructed under the ownership of Basil Smith or possibly John Harman. The artifacts recovered are consistent with a tenant level of occupation, representing the lower portion of socioeconomic usage. The structure was apparently abandoned around 1934 or at least certainly by 1954. Three strata contained intact deposits with artifacts deposited through gaps in the floor during the 19th- and early 20th-century use of the structure. Adjacent to the structure, a midden deposit contained two stratas related to the house (based on cross mends). The artifacts recovered are consistent with usage from roughly 1840 on, during a period when the transition to truck farming was taking place, as railroads opened up urban markets to farmers in the area. The Foundation 1 structure was consistent with tenant farm or small farmholder occupation. All evidence, from artifacts to faunal material, supported occupants from lower socioeconomic classes. There was some evidence that the occupants were African-Americans. There was (and is) a community of Free Blacks in this region dating to before the Civil War.

(Edited from the Maryland Historical Trust Synthesis Project)

References

  • Harris, Tery, and Joseph W. Hopkins III
  • 2002. Phase III Investigations of the B. Smith Site (18AN1151) Hanover Vicinity, Anne Arundel County, Maryland. 2 vols. Joseph Hopkins Associates, Inc.

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