The Treuth Residence (18BA283)

The Treuth Residence Site (18BA283) represents a mid-19th-century homestead consisting of an extant mid-19th-century dwelling and the remains of a late 18th-century possible residence reused as a barn/garage. There is also a small prehistoric component to the site. It is located in Oella in Baltimore County, Maryland.

Intensive occupation of the area really began in the mid-18th century when the Banneker family moved to the locale. Benjamin Banneker was born a free black in 1731. Mary (a freed half black/half white slave) and Robert (a freed black slave) Banneky were tobacco farmers and by 1737 Robert had accumulated enough capital to purchase a 100-acre tract of land, build a log cabin and start a farm. When Robert died in 1759, Benjamin inherited the property. By the early 1770s, Benjamin had become a successful farmer. Site 18BA283 is on part of a 10-acre tract that John Barton purchased from Benjamin Banneker in 1792. Joshua Hynes, the Sheriff of Baltimore County, purchased the tract from George Ellicott in 1850, when Hynes is believed to have built the extant stone house as depicted on an 1850 map of Baltimore County Tax records indicated that a tenant dwelling was added to the property between 1910 and 1915.

Archaeologists from the Maryland Historical Trust received a request from the Baltimore County Recreation and Parks Department to locate and define the limits of the Benjamin Banneker house site within his former 72-acre farm. As part of this project, Site 18BA283 was identified in 1983 through the excavation of 53 positive shovel test pits. Two piles of rubble were noted on the northwest side of the yard fence. Two light artifact scatters were also identified.

As a result of the identification of the Banneker house site, Baltimore County Department of Parks and Recreation purchased the 42.8 acre property to create the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park. Further archaeological investigations were required ahead of proposed development at the park. In 1991, Phase I testing occurred along a proposed utility corridor for a new caretaker’s residence. Field methods included the excavation of 110 STPs and five test units. During the 1991 excavations, a large stone foundation whose function and date of construction could not be definitively determined was located, prompting the moving of the utility corridor.

The project corridor was divided into 3 areas from east-west. Area 1 contained late 19th- and 20th-century historic artifacts and undiagnostic prehistoric artifacts. Although it was at first hoped that a prehistoric camp may be identified in the area, the excavator realized that most of the prehistoric artifacts were probably washed downslope from the ridge. No features or in situ deposits were located in Area 1. In Area 2, a stone wall was encountered behind the Treuth house. Associated artifacts found on the exterior of the wall dated to the 19th century. Excavation within the foundation walls revealed late 18th- and 19th-century artifacts. The identification of late 18th-century artifacts indicated the possibility that there was a building on the site prior to the construction of the extant house in ca. 1850. It was suggested that the structure was later used as a barn or garage; however, no barn or stable items were collected and two-thirds of the artifacts recovered were domestic items indicating a more domestic use of the structure. Area 3 contained artifacts dated from possibly as early as the late 18th century and the 19th century. Excavations in the area did not uncover any 18th-century deposits or cultural features as was hoped.

In 1992, Phase I/II archaeological testing was conducted at the park ahead of further proposed development. Testing within Site 18BA283 involved the excavation of 69 shovel test pits and ten 5 ft. test units within an approximately 2.29 acre area at the Treuth residence. There were 2 testing areas comprising the north and south lawns of the house. Domestic artifacts were concentrated in Testing Area 1 and in a sheet scatter immediately surrounding the structure. Test units were placed where artifacts concentrations were high and clusters were observed. Activities represented by the 19th and 20th century sheet midden produced at the Treuth Residence Site probably included the construction of the house around 1850 and its subsequent occupation. Excavations in the adjacent non-site areas recovered late 19th- to 20th-century artifacts. No significant deposits or cultural features were identified in those areas.

The Treuth Residence Site (18BA283) consists of an extant mid-19th century stone house and the remains of a possible late 18th century residence that may have been later reused as a barn or garage. The prehistoric site component was temporally undiagnostic. The possible 18th-century structure was represented by the remains of a stone wall that was located northwest of the Treuth house. The only other feature present at the site was a circle of fieldstones similar to those used in the construction of the dwelling, located just off the northwest side of the Treuth house. Although there were a few concentrations of artifacts in areas adjacent to the dwelling and outbuilding, a large amount of materials were scattered across the site. All artifacts were confined to the topsoil/plowzone and no subsurface features were encountered during the excavations at the site. While the area of 18BA283 has been fairly well-examined through shovel testing and test unit excavations, the origin and nature of the possible 18th century stone wall remains has not been clearly ascertained.

(Edited from the Maryland Historical Trust Synthesis Project)

References

  • Sanders, Suzanne, Michelle T. Moran, Martha R. Williams, Michael A. Simons, and Justine Woodard
  • 1993. Phase I and II Archeological Investigations at Benjamin Banneker Historical Park, Baltimore County, Maryland. 2 vols. Christopher Goodwin and Associates, Frederick, MD.

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