Discoveries Under the Porch

Over a decade ago, neither the Hollingsworth House nor the Stone Building at Historic Elk Landing were in very good shape.  The Stone Building was literally crumbling before our eyes and the front porch of the Hollingsworth House was no longer safe.  During that time frame, the infant Historic Elk Landing Foundation authorized the stabilization of the Stone Building and both the dismantling of the decaying Hollingsworth House porch and its reconstruction.  The board also commissioned an archaeological study of the area under the porch before the new one was built.  That study was done in December of 2000 and led by Dwayne Pickett, principle investigator and author for TRC Garrow Associates of Durham, North Carolina. The contents of Dwayne’s report attracted much public attention when members of Dwayne’s team discovered a British half penny dated 1786 with the likeness of King George III on it.  However, that half penny was not the only discovery by Dwayne’s team, as written in the report:

“Other interesting artifacts encountered that allude to activities taking place in and around the Hollingsworth House include part of a bone toothbrush, clay marbles, a copper alloy handle to a possible fruit knife decorated with a flower motif, a possible iron harness buckle, and a British George III half penny dated 1786. Also several pins as well as bone and metal buttons were uncovered which represent sewing activities no doubt undertaken by the women of the Hollingsworth House.”

The crew also found 80 other historic ceramic fragments including some imported Chinese vessels.  The lack of “earth wares in front of the Hollingsworth House,” Dwayne wrote in 2000, “suggests that cooking functions were not taking place in the house during the early 19th century but elsewhere on the property, most likely in a kitchen building.”  That building is yet to be found.

Surprisingly, Dwayne noted that he found no evidence that the house was constructed prior to 1800 or the existence of any ash remains from the fire that gutted the Hollingsworth House in 1848.  Subsequent to Dwayne’s dig, historic architect, James Wollon also theorized that the house, based on its original configuration, some of which can still be seen in the house’s basement, probably was a product of the 19th, rather than the 18th century.

Dwayne’s study, titled “Archaeological Testing in Advance of Renovation Activities at the Hollingsworth House, Historic Elk Landing, Elkton, Maryland” also includes an overview of both the historic and prehistoric period as they were acted out at the confluence of the Big and Little Elk Creeks that is Historic Elk Landing.  Since its publication in January of 2001, the study has rested in the files of the Historical Society of Cecil County, but was recently scanned and is now available on line on the Historic Elk Landing web site under Research along with other studies conducted of the site and its houses over the last decade.   We hope to continue to post electronic versions of studies and other documents related to Elk Landing as they are discovered and both time and volunteers are available to scan and post them. If you would like to participate in this endeavor, please contact The Historic Elk Landing Foundation through our web site at www.elklanding.org or on our Facebook page.

Coming next week… War of 1812 underwater archaeology at Frenchtown.

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