Todd's Inheritance (18BA370)

Todd’s Inheritance (18BA370) is a mid-to-late 17th-century plantation with occupation into the 20th century. It is located along the Patapsco Neck, on North Point in Baltimore County, Maryland. The site consists of a house, 2 barns and a large family cemetery. The archaeological remains consist of slave quarters and an orchard and gardens. The original house was burned by the British in 1814.

The Todd site was first settled in by 1669. The Todd family, tobacco planters, would have been comparatively wealthy. The Todd house was the site of the first Presbyterian Church services held on the neck by 1714. The Todd house may have been destroyed by a hurricane that hit North Point in 1750. At the time of the War of 1812 Bernard Todd (son of Thomas Todd V) and his wife occupied the house. American troops used the Todd estate as their headquarters while awaiting an enemy attack. The house was subsequently burned down in 1814. At the time of the war the Todd plantation had 17 slaves. Their quarters were presumably not destroyed. By 1816, a dwelling, either brick or frame, was constructed on the property. An addition was built between 1836 and 1841. At some point after the Civil War, the daughter-in-law of Bernard Todd raised the gables on the third floor. Further changes were made to the house sometime between 1904 and 1907. At that time, the Todd property consisted of 2 dwellings, 12 tenant houses, and a store. During the ownership of Thomas B. Todd, Jr. the property was reduced to 1.62 ha (4 ac). After his death in 1952 the house and lot remained within family ownership until 1975 when it was conveyed to the Cook family. The Todd house is among the oldest surviving buildings in the North Point area.

A cultural resource survey was conducted in 1988. A Phase I/II archaeological investigation was conducted at the site in December 2000. A total of 121 shovel test pits and five test units were excavated. Artifact distributions across the site revealed functionally distinct activity areas relating to different time periods. Artifacts recovered as a result of shovel testing ranged in age from the 17th century to the 20th century.

A large area on the north/northwest side of the house had been surfaced with coal ash and cinders. Two small areas on the north side of the house had been paved with oyster shell. The distributions of coal ash and oyster shell possibly reflected an accumulation or reuse of discarded material for paving surfaces and fill. A layer of brick rubble was encountered on the south side of the house, indicating the presence of an earlier structure at that location. Evidence of a brick foundation or pier was found in 2 STPs just to the southwest of the rubble where several courses of laid brick were encountered. In an area just beyond the brick rubble on the south side of the house, and in an area on the east side of the house, a layer of burned wood and brick flecks was identified. The layers showed clear evidence of the fire that reportedly destroyed the original house in 1814.

Excavations at TU 1, which was placed along the east foundation of the house, showed that the extant house may have been built on the foundations of the earlier house. The brick foundation of the present house was found to be resting on top of a stone foundation.

Two mid- to late 19th century postholes that may have been supports for an earlier porch or steps were observed in TU 4. Another posthole had been located on the east side of the house. It was dated after 1812 and cut into earlier layers. TU 5 was opened to reveal more of the in-situ brick feature first identified during shovel testing. A local informant indicated that two slave houses had once stood in this area and were occupied by freed African Americans into the 20th century. The brick feature may have been related to a slave dwelling or to some other type of outbuilding. Artifacts recovered from TU 5 dated to the 1830s, with some dating from the late 17th century, and very few from the first half of the 18th century.

Shovel test pits nearest the house contained layers of coal ash and cinders that likely represented late 19th- and early 20th-century fill. A neighbor said that the area along the fence line had been extensively filled during the mid-20th century. The informant also indicated a springhouse had been located near the fence line. The artifacts from these shovel tests included late 20th-century bottle glass, oyster shell, some brick, and small unidentifiable pieces of iron. A total of 3,580 historic artifacts were collected from the site during the archaeological investigations.

Todd’s Inheritance (18BA370) is a mid-to-late 17th-century plantation with occupation into the 20th century. Ample evidence has been recovered from the site to suggest at least Woodland period occupation in the area as well. Evidence of late 17th-century occupation was evidenced primarily on the east side of the house, later 18th-century occupation was indicated by the assemblage from the south yard area, and the west side of the house had distinctly late 19th- and early 20th-century artifacts. The Todd’s Inheritance site is significant for its association with the War of 1812 and the extant dwelling is one of the few 19th-century farmhouses to survive the industrialization of North Point.

(Edited from the Maryland Historical Trust Synthesis Project)

References

  • Jones, Lynne, Katherine L. Farnham, and Donna J. Seifert
  • 2001. Phase I Archeological Investigation of the House Precinct at Todd’s Inheritance (18BA370) North Point, Baltimore County, Maryland. John Milner Associates.

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