Wilderness Site (18AN596)
The Wilderness site (18AN596) is an intact mid-18th to
mid- 20th century farmstead located in the Arundel Mills
area of northern Anne Arundel County, Maryland. The above
ground remains of a roughly 5.5 X 6.7 m (18 X 22 ft) log
dwelling are present at the site, along with the ruins of
at least 2 other log outbuildings, and a large brick chimney.
The site was first identified during a Phase I survey
conducted in 1985 and 1986. In the survey tract which
contained 18AN596, survey work entailed only ground
reconnaissance, since the site was easily identified by
The 1987 Phase II work entailed archival research to place
the site in its proper historical context, as well as the
excavation of 180 STPs and twenty-one 1 X 1 m test units.
From the mid- 18th century, into the 20th century, the
property on which the site is located was owned by a
family of German immigrants and their descendants.
The site is situated on a property originally patented
(in 1755) as “the Wilderness” tract to Nathan Hammond.
In 1762, Hammond sold the property to five German
immigrants: Matthew, George, John, and Andrew Harman
and Sebastian Hatler in a partnership known as George
Harman & Co. Within a few years, the large tract was
partitioned into individual holdings. Site 18AN596 is
situated within the property partitioned off to
Matthew (Matthias) Harman in 1775.
By the 1798 Federal Assessment Matthew Harman’s property
had been improved with a large 1 story wooden dwelling
house, and 7 outbuildings, with the entire property
valued at $240.00. The property was inherited by Matthew’s
son John Harman, who operated the property as a farm for
his entire life. The property remained in agricultural
and domestic use into the 20th Century. The owner of
the property in 1899 was Charles A. Disney. He had
inherited the property in that year from Julia Anne
Harman Disney. The 1899 deed states that Charles was
Julia Anne’s grandson, the only son of her son William.
Charles Disney’s property was placed in a trusteeship
when he was declared a lunatic after lunacy proceedings
were held between 1906 and 1911. In 1911 the trustees
sold the property to Bruner R. Anderson, who subdivided
the property and sold it to others.
A total of five or possibly six partially standing structures
were found there. The structures uncovered by clearing consisted
of a residence (named Structure 1), a root cellar (Structure 2),
a log structure (Structure 3), a possible post-in-ground
shed (Structure 4), a modern chicken coop outbuilding
(Structure 5), and a possible summer kitchen (Structure 6).
Following clearance of the vegetation, the site was surveyed
with shovel test pits (STPs) to locate the site boundaries.
STP artifact finds helped to define the edges of the site,
but did not identify any significant artifact concentrations
or activity areas. A number of cultural landscape features
were encountered during this initial survey stage of the
Phase II testing program. Among these were several access
roads, a sawmill area for firewood, a spring, and a possible
Seven of the 1 X 1 m test units were placed in the vicinity
of Structure 1. Seven more units were placed in the vicinity
of other structures. The seven remaining test units were
situated outside the main yard areas (the portion of the
site that was cleared.
The artifact distribution data supports arguments that German
settlers did not throw their debris into the yard areas next
to their homes. Further, the data seem to indicate that this
did not hold true for outbuildings, where trash fell and
was apparently not collected. Three of the units with
heavy concentrations of debris seem to indicate that there
were some special areas for trash disposal. Beyond trash
disposal patterns, the units also illustrate that aside
from Structure 6 (which was demolished and cleared) and
Structure 5 (which is mid-20th century in origin), the
buildings were probably used throughout the occupation
of the site.
Structures 1, 2, 3, and 6 appear to be the earliest
structures on the site. Structures 1, 2, and 3 appear
to have been used from the mid-18th century to the
mid-20th century. Structure 1 appears to have been the
main residence at the site. The earliest period of
construction of the building consisted of a hall and
parlor design with an interior chimney on the hall
end of the house. From construction details this period
dates to the mid-18th century. The second period was
an addition around 1815onto the parlor end. The last
period of construction was represented by the addition
of two porches onto the front (north side) and rear
of the house. These rested on cinderblock piers and
are probably early to mid-20th century.
Structure 2 was reportedly a root cellar. Structure 3
was a low log outbuilding of undetermined function.
Structure 6 may be the earliest building (probably
18th century) and was the first to be abandoned and
it seems likely that this was the house’s original
summer kitchen. Structures 4 and 5 appear to have
served as an animal pen/open-sided shed, and a chicken
coop respectively. The early farmstead complex
therefore consisted of a house, a kitchen, a large
root cellar, and a small barn. The historic assemblage
consisted of some 5,674 artifacts. A minor prehistoric
component was encountered at the site.
In conclusion, Site 18AN596 is an intact mid-18th to
mid-20th century farmstead. The site was occupied by
the same German immigrant family until the early 20th
century. The site contains discrete, as well as mixed,
archaeological deposits which have the potential for
illuminating the study of intra-site function, culture
change, socio-economics, and ethnicity of a German
immigrant family over a period of a century and a
half. There are also good historical and architectural
data to act as a control on the archaeological data.
Historical Trust Synthesis Project)