Lee Site (18AN998)

The Lee Site (18AN998) is a late 18th-early 19th-century dwelling (possible tenant house) near the Woodland Beach community of eastern Anne Arundel County, Maryland. A minor prehistoric component is also present. The site is situated on an interior flat between Beards Creek (to the west) and Warehouse Creek (to the east).

The major historic occupation at 18AN998 is likely associated with members of the Stewart and Lee families, who owned and occupied the area in the 18th and 19th centuries, or (more likely) their tenants. George Puddington was the first landowner in the area; in 1663 he was granted 700 acres (including the site location) called “Puddington’s Harbor”. The property passed to Edward Burgess in 1674 and 277 ½ acres if it came into the possession of Charles Stewart by 1783. Stewart’s 1781 will divided his property between his two sons and Charles II was the recipient of Puddington’s Harbor. The 1790 Federal Census showed the plantation had four white householders, one “other” free white person and three slaves. The 1798 Federal Direct Tax listed “one brick two storey dwelling house 36 by 28 feet, negro quarter 24 by 16 feet, meat house 16 by 12 feet, and a milk house 12 by 6 feet all made of wood” on a two acre parcel and valued at $550.00.

Charles Stewart II died ca. 1816 without a will. Most of the property (including the site) was purchased by Stephen Lee between 1817 and 1826. At Lee’s death ca. 1833, the estate inventory included sixteen slaves, livestock such as horses, cattle, oxen, pigs, and sheep, tobacco worth $900, corn worth $150, clover hay worth $100, as well as small amounts of oats and rye. In 1833, son Stephen Lewis Lee married Caroline Duncan. He may have lived in the house described in the 1798 Federal Direct Tax, or in a house elsewhere on the property. An 1847 map (including the area of the site) shows only two houses in the area, only one of which is close to the site. In 1850, Stephen L. Lee was a farmer with 20 slaves and he died in debt in 1870.

The site was first examined archaeologically in 1995 during a Phase I survey and Phase II testing program by the Maryland State Highway Administration the impending construction of a truck turnaround and access road along Md Route 2. Phase I work in the site vicinity entailed the survey of two potential corridors for the proposed road. Most of the area had 50% surface visibility and surface artifacts were flagged and piece-plotted during a pedestrian survey. The surface collection led directly to the discovery of 18AN998. Thirty-six shovel test pits were excavated stratigraphically and all cultural material was collected by layer. During Phase II testing (1996), much of the field was systematically examined by walking transects at 3 m intervals and flagging approximately 1000 “hits”. No concentrated clustering was obvious. Twenty 1 X 1 m test units were also excavated. Historic artifacts encountered during the testing at 18AN998 include 1,210 architectural artifacts, 341 kitchen-related artifacts, 24 tobacco pipe fragments, 1 gunflint, and 695 miscellaneous objects. Artifacts such as overglaze Chinese porcelain, creamware, edged pearlwares, cabled, and slip-banded pearlwares, early transfer-printed whitewares, wrought and cut nails, and olive green bottle glass fragments provide strong evidence for occupation during the late 18th through the mid-19th centuries. The mean ceramic date calculated for the Lee Site assemblage is 1818.

Piece-plotting of artifacts revealed a concentration of brick and window glass that appears to mark a former structure location. Historic maps and atlases show no evidence of former structures there, probably because detailed maps for this part of Anne Arundel County only became available in 1847. However, the 1798 Federal Direct Tax listing for the Stewart parcel listed a brick dwelling house, wooden slave quarter, meat house, and milk house on a two acre parcel. The Lee site might correspond with Charles Stewart’s residence, or one of Stewart’s tenants. Similarly, after the sale of the property to the Lees in 1817, the structure may have been occupied by the Lees or one of their tenants.

Additionally, forty-four prehistoric lithic artifacts scattered across the site were recovered. The low artifact density and limited range of tool types argue for repeated, very short-term, single activity use of the site by small groups or individual Native Americans over several thousand years (Late Archaic through Middle Woodland). No habitation sites appear to be present.

The Lee site was considered to be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places based on its historic component. Through documentary evidence, archaeological fieldwork, and comparisons with other Anne Arundel County sites of similar and contrasting functions and time periods, the Lee site can yield important information relating to the main period of rural agrarian intensification in Maryland (1650-1815), and the agricultural-industrial transition (1815-1870). The Lee site has a limited period of occupation, ranging from about 1780 to before 1847. With the exception of agricultural use, the site has undergone little disturbance that affects the coherence of the artifact assemblage, or which would distort information about the site plan and use during its occupation. The site has sub-plowzone integrity and surface collection demonstrated that meaningful artifact patterning exists on the site, with two temporally distinct trash disposal patterns present. Based on these findings, the site should be considered a significant archaeological resource.

(Edited from the Maryland Historical Trust Synthesis Project)

References

  • Ebright, Carole A., and Jason D. Moser
  • 1997. Phase I Archeological Survey for Maryland Route 2 Improvements, and Phase II Testing of the Lee Site (18AN998), Anne Arundel County, Maryland. SHA Archeological Report No. 135.

About the MAC Lab

The MAC Lab
Visiting the MAC Lab

Contact Us