AVW/Area 5/Site 1 (18BA536)

Site 18BA536, also known as AVW/Area 5/Site 1, is a mid-19th- to early 20th-century house site located near the Middle River area of Baltimore County.

Archival research into the ownership of Site 18BA536 failed to reveal any clear chain-of-title for the individuals connected to the site. The only historic document to provide any indication of the ownership of the area is an 1877 Atlas of Baltimore County. The map shows a house owned by Richard Seabrooks in the approximate location of the site. US Census Records from 1870 indicate that a man named Richard Seabrooks resided in Middle River. Thomas was described as a 68 year old farmer living with his wife, Elizabeth (65), and one farm hand, his son Richard (40). From this information it is likely that Richard inherited the property sometime between 1870 and 1877 and operated the farm following the passing of his father and mother.

The site was first identified in 2005 during a Phase I survey of a 1,000 acre property slated for development of a business campus. The site was identified based on the presence of 115 19th-century historic artifacts found in 35 shovel test pits. Artifact recovery appeared to be confined to plowzone, but two intact cultural features were identified: a cellar hole and associated architectural debris and a fieldstone well. The cellar measured 50 X 20 ft. and was 3 ft. deep. It was located adjacent to a fieldstone wall or pillar. A dry laid fieldstone well was southeast of the cellar hole.

Phase II work in 2005 comprised 193 shovel tests excavated within the site area. The site was estimated to have a dimension of 500 ft. north-south and 650 ft. east-west. Eight 3 ft. test units were excavated. One hundred and thirty shovel tests and all 8 test units produced positive artifact recoveries. A total of 3,945 artifacts were recovered during Phase II work. The prehistoric artifacts recovered were composed of chert debitage, quartz debitage, and charcoal. The majority of the prehistoric materials were located in strata identified as disturbed soils. The remainder were located in subsoil but were too few in number to be though significant.

The farm complex at 18BA536 likely consisted of: a main dwelling house (located in close proximity to the large architectural debris pile (Feature 2), outbuildings like the small cellar (Feature 1), and a well (Feature 3). At least one outbuilding was identified, when Feature 7 (a section of a fieldstone and mortar foundation wall) was identified near the main farm complex. The size of this structure suggests a small outbuilding like a cold cellar or a spring house.

Based on the artifact recovery, Site 18BA536 was occupied from the mid-19th to the early 20th century. This historic temporal assemblage was supported primarily by the recovered ceramic assemblage, but also the presence of machine-cut and wire nails, and the kaolin pipe assemblage. The occupation period likely began sometime around 1820 and extended until 1930 given the presence of the Depression-era glass and the absence of any house or structure on a 1938 aerial photograph of Middle River. The presence of domestic and architectural materials in the proximity of a ruinous farmstead complex suggests a substantial residence was once present. Based on the quantity and nature of the artifacts, the residence was thought to have been occupied for a substantial amount of time. The nature of the ceramic assemblage suggests that the site occupants (the Seabrook family) were middle income planters.

The research potential of Site 18BA536 was dramatically reduced by a lack of soils with good stratigraphic integrity, and displaced artifacts recovery. The extensive history of agriculture on the property dramatically impacted the yards connected with this early residence, leaving the soils completely disturbed. The only location to have good stratigraphic integrity was within the cellar hole (Feature 1). Thus, conducting future excavations at Site 18BA536 are unlikely to provide additional research value beyond that already obtained through Phase II testing.

(Edited from the Maryland Historical Trust Synthesis Project)

References

  • Shellenhammer, Jason, Michael Roller, Ryan Papson, Michael McGinnes, Kelly Cooper, and Philip Hill
  • 2005. Phase II Archeological Evaluation of Sites 18BA470, 18BA526, 18BA536, and 18BA538 within Areas 2,5,and 9 on the 1,000-acre+/- A.V. Williams Trust Property Located Between Bird River Road and Leland Avenue in Baltimore County, Maryland. Archaeological Testing and Consulting, Inc.

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