The Patuxent Point Site (18CV271) was the domestic core of an approximately 100-acre tobacco plantation occupied from c.1658 through the 1690s in Calvert County, Maryland. Excavations at the site revealed an earthfast dwelling, borrow pits, an ash-filled pit, middens, post holes, post molds, and eighteen human graves. Patuxent Point is situated approximately 800 feet east of the Compton Site (18CV279), and their relationship to each other is still being investigated.
The Patuxent Point Site was part of Hodgkin’s Neck, a 100-acre tract of land first patented in 1651 by John Hodgins or Hodges. Hodgins died in 1655, and in 1658 his widow assigned her rights to the property to Captain John Obder. Obder probably took up residence at the site in 1658. By 1663, Obder was living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, having apparently abandoned or leased Patuxent Point. An as-yet unidentified tenant family appears to have lived at the site until the end of the 17th century.
When the Patuxent Point Site was first occupied, the Maryland colony was embarking on what has been described as the "golden age" of the yeoman tobacco planter in the Chesapeake. Political stability and economic growth allowed many white, free male immigrants to accumulate wealth throughout the third quarter of the 17th century. By the 1680s, however, the tobacco economy was moving towards collapse, and the region entered a period of economic depression that lasted into the early 18th century. The Patuxent Point collection can be used to examine the material conditions of life during this period of growth and decline. It was also a time when enslaved African men and women began to replace indentured servants as the primarily labor force.
Thunderbird Archaeological Associates identified the Patuxent Point Site during a Phase I investigation in 1986, prior to the construction of a residential subdivision by CRJ Associates, Incorporated. Julia A. King of the Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum (JPPM) conducted Phase II and III excavations at the site in 1989 and 1990. These investigations included the controlled surface collection of 786 ten-by-ten-foot units and the excavation of 72 five-by-five-foot plow zone units. All soil was screened through ¼-inch mesh. The plow zone was then stripped from the site, revealing numerous subsurface features and a previously undetected cemetery. Sixty-four 17th-century subsurface features were excavated, as well as several prehistoric Middle Woodland features. All feature fill was screened through ¼-inch mesh, although in many cases samples for water screening and flotation were saved.
The principal dwelling at Patuxent Point measured 20.5-by-40-feet, relatively large by 17th-century standards, and was of earthfast construction erected in pre-assembled sidewalls. It was divided into two or possibly three rooms on the ground floor with a loft above. At least one chimney of frame and clay construction heated a portion of the dwelling, and the floor was covered with wooden boards. Fragments of window glass and lead cames indicate that at least some of the windows were glazed. Late in the site’s occupation, the building’s rotten posts at its eastern end were replaced with wooden blocks to underpin the building. While evidence for other buildings at the site is sparse, at least one and perhaps more outbuildings probably existed. Numerous post holes and molds may indicate the locations of structures, but their arrangement is confusing. Interestingly, no evidence for ditch-set paling fences were recovered, despite extensive stripping of the plow zone following its sampling.
The cemetery at Patuxent Point is the earliest colonial family cemetery yet reported in Maryland, and is located 80 feet west of the principal dwelling. This 17th-century graveyard served as the burial ground for the Patuxent Point Site and possibly the nearby Compton Site (18CV279). JPPM archaeologists excavated all grave shafts by hand, and their fill was screened through ¼-inch mesh. The graves consisted of the skeletal remains of 19 remarkably well preserved individuals, including a fetus or newborn interred with a female presumed to be the mother. Interments were organized into two clusters, and all but one individual appears to be of European descent. The exception is a young man, buried holding a white clay tobacco pipe, who may have been of African ancestry.
A total of 124,660 artifacts were recovered from the Patuxent Point Site from surface, plow zone, and feature contexts. This collection includes a wide range of European and locally manufactured ceramics, tobacco pipes, glass vessels, and metal objects commonly found on late 17th-century plantations in the Chesapeake.
A total of 3,055 ceramic sherds were recovered from 18CV271. These ceramics include locally manufactured types, such as Morgan Jones and Challis-like, and imported pottery, such as tin-glazed earthenwares, Merida Micaceous, North Devon gravel- tempered, gravel-free, and sgrafitto, Staffordshire slipware, Red Sandy, Buckley, Iberian, North Italian slipware, and black-glazed redware. The bulk of the stonewares from Patuxent Point consist of Rhenish brown and Rhenish blue and gray. At least nine ceramic vessel forms were identified, including a pipkin, jug, bowl, jar, olive jar, galley pot, colander, milk pan, charger, and bottle.
Almost 1900 tobacco pipe fragments, including both white clay and terra cotta examples, were recovered at Patuxent Point. Ten Llewellin Evans, one John Sinderling, and one William Evans make up some of the 18 white clay tobacco pipe maker’s marks. Ten white clay tobacco pipe bowls exhibit a Pikeman motif, in addition to pipe bowls and stems that bear mulberry tree designs and incised and rouletted motifs. The 303 terra cotta tobacco pipe fragments make up almost 16% of the total pipe assemblage, an extraordinary proportion when compared with contemporary assemblages from nearby sites. In addition, one terra clay tobacco pipe bowl exhibits the maker’s mark "RP" encased in a heart on its heel. This mark has been attributed to Richard Pimmer, an Englishman living in the Norfolk, Virginia area.
The 2,386 glass fragments from Patuxent Point primarily consist of case and wine bottle fragments. Sixteen beads, 10 window glass fragments, and four mirror fragments were also found. Two enamelled glass fragments, a glass handle, a possible decanter fragment, and a wine glass fragment constitute the types of tableware found at the site.
Over 7,000 metal artifacts and over 87,000 faunal remains were recovered from Patuxent Point. Three hoes, three iron blades, two chain link fragments, one file, and a mill stone fragment suggest the types of agricultural activities that occurred at 18CV271, while three copper alloy bosses, one bit, and one spur revealed the presence of horses. Fourteen lead shot, and two fishing hooks indicate the importance of these tools for fishing and hunting. Architectural hardware included eight window cames, six hinges, one key fragment, and two furniture tacks suggest the types of furniture within the dwelling. Kitchen-related artifacts include three knife blades, a copper alloy spoon with silver wash, and a bone handle from a utensil. Sixty-four straight pins, seven buckles, five buttons, five hook and eyes, and one aglet illustrate the types of clothing-related artifacts. Personal artifacts include two divider fragments, a copper alloy token, a copper alloy coin, a set of pewter cufflinks, and a bone comb.
The document collection consists of original records in overall excellent condition, with minimal dirt and staining due to exposure in the field. The records are housed in six letter-sized archival clamshell boxes, five oversized archival enclosures, and one oversized document roll.
Excavation records include unit records; plan and profile drawings; stratum registers; survey logs; and soil description logs.
Other records include artifact and ecofact analyses, unit registers, burial notes, and multiple artifact catalogs. These have been scanned PDF files and are not searchable. There is one associated report which was scanned as a word-searchable .PDF file: Preliminary Report of Archaeological Investigations at the Patuxent Point Subdivision Property (Thunderbird Archaeological Associates 1987).
Photographs taken on-site or in post-processing are available through the online database, and are searchable using the above criteria. Researchers should note that images are not linked directly to specific documents, and photograph records do not necessarily exist for all features or units. Original images consist of slides and are housed at the MAC Lab.
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