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
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.
Historical Trust Synthesis Project)