Poe-Burns Duplex (18BA325)

The Poe-Burns Duplex Site (18BA325) consists of a non-extant mid-19th century duplex, converted to a single-family dwelling in the town of Texas, Baltimore County, Maryland. The village of Texas was a 19th-century Irish Catholic community where limestone quarrying and the production of lime was the principal economic activity. Texas was first settled in 1703 by Joseph Taylor. In 1725, Thomas Cockey purchased Taylor’s improved house and lands. Cockey owned the land until his death in 1737. Cockey’s son, Thomas Cockey Deye, inherited the land at his father’s death. In 1804, John Clark began a small-scale quarrying and lime operation on land that he was leasing from Cockey Deye. The arrival of the Baltimore and Susquehanna Railroad in the village in 1832 encouraged the limestone business and provided transportation of the product. In the 1840s, Irish immigrants settled and worked at the kilns and quarries or ran local businesses. In 1846, Samuel Griscom purchased a 44 acre parcel on both sides of the railroad that formed the center of Texas. Within a year he was operating a quarry. Griscom built a number of duplexes by 1854 along either side of the railway line. Industry in Texas peaked between 1850 and 1880. By 1852, there were 37 individually owned kilns operating in Texas. The industry gradually declined into the 20th century, due mainly to a lack of modernization, but was revived in the 1930s.

John Clark had originally purchased that tract on which Site 18BA325 is located in 1849 (Lots 1 and 2, Division 9 as indicated on an 1854 map). Records indicated that Jacob Burrough then purchased the lots in 1854, and that prior to that time they were undeveloped. The duplex was rented out to Irish immigrants. Sometime prior to 1921 Catherine Hyland acquired both sides of the property. It was probably during that time that the residence was converted into a single family dwelling. The duplex was next acquired by the Poe family in 1938, which still lived there as recently as 1986.

In the summer of 1985, a Phase I archaeological survey was conducted ahead of the proposed highway traffic flow improvement project at Beaver Dam Road. Phase II site examination was conducted at the site in 1986. Each duplex yard was examined through test units. The topsoil and fill levels from the southern back yard area contained artifacts that were mainly related to kitchen activities. In the north back yard, artifacts of all types were encountered. A total of 1,706 historic artifacts were recovered from the Poe-Burns Duplex Site during the Phase II study.

Phase III archaeological investigations were carried out in 1991. During the Phase III investigations the backyard was segmented into north and south sections. A total of twenty-six units were dug.

Twelve subsurface features were excavated in the south dupex yard. Features 1-3, 3A-C, 4, and 7-9 were all identified as posthole features associated with several episodes of 19th century fencing off the two yard areas. Features 10 and 14 were identified as trash pit features. Feature 21 was the only privy identified in the southern yard and believed to be inuse during the late 19th century into the middle part of the 20th century.

A total of 10 features were excavated in the north duplex. Feature 12 was brick, rock and mortar, with the brick laid in a linear pattern one row wide, probably related to the barn/outbuilding that once stood in the northeastern part of the yard. Feature 13 consisted of an architectural rock with a tapered rectangular form, possibly a footer. Feature 16 was determined to be a builder’s trench possibly related to the barn/outbuilding. Features 17/17A and 18/18A were in the location of the barn/outbuilding. The lower fill deposit contained artifacts temporally diagnostic of the mid-19th century with more modern material above; therefore, there were materials present dating from the earlier history of the duplex. The recovery of tools did possibly suggest that the building was used in maintenance activities. Features 20, 22, and 23 were components of an abandoned, enclosed pre-1930 privy A total of 350 artifacts were recovered from the 3 features, with the majority (n=328) coming from the privy matrix. A variety of domestic and architectural types were represented in the assemblage but the percentages revealed a dominance of food and household related artifacts. It appeared that the privy’s secondary purpose was as a refuse container servicing the household refuse disposal needs of the north duplex residents.

A comparative analysis was done of the artifact assemblages from the south and north yards and the south yard seemed to have a somewhat greater share of earlier ceramic types such as creamware and pearlware. Neither of those types was reported from the north yard. This variation between assemblages may have reflected a more efficiently cleared north yard or a preference for those ceramic types by the occupants of the south duplex.

In all, 5,584 historic artifacts were recovered during the Phase III archaeological testing. The Phase III archaeological testing revealed a structured yard use pattern. The two yard spaces were separated by a fence line. The south yard was used as a backyard recreational area. In that area, the privy was placed at the outer-most limit of the property line. Architectural materials were generally evenly distributed over the yard area but ceramics and food remains were more prevalent closer to the house and glassware was more prevalent in the rear yard area.

The north yard had a barn/outbuilding that was used for animal husbandry and other purposes. The privy in that area was located at a point nearly midway between the outbuilding and the house, but it was also positioned near the northernmost extent of the yard. Nearest to the house, the assemblage was dominated by glassware and miscellaneous ceramic fragments. In the rear of the yard, the greatest share of the assemblage was composed of building materials followed by glassware. Food remains were found throughout the yard area but the greatest percentage was recovered nearer to the house. The backyard of the duplex was utilized from the mid-19th century into modern times.

The Poe-Burns Duplex Site (18BA325) consists of a non-extant mid-19th century two-story stone residential duplex, converted to a single-family dwelling, with a frame garage and divided terraced back yard. Posthole features were found which indicated that a separating fence line was in use throughout the duplex history. Privies were identified in both the north and south yard area and a barn/outbuilding was at one time located in the north yard area.

(Edited from the Maryland Historical Trust Synthesis Project)


  • Payne, Ted, Kenneth Baumgardt, and Betty C. Zebooker
  • 1994. Beaver Dam Road Widening: Phase III Archeological Investigations at Nineteenth Century Irish Workers Residential Sites: 18BA313, 314, and 325, Baltimore County, Maryland. MAAR Associates, Inc., Newark, Delaware.

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