The Garrett’s Chance site is located three miles
from the Patuxent River near Aquasco, Maryland. In 1679, a portion
of the property, then known as Doves Perch, was patented by
Bernard Johnson. A neighboring tract, Doves Nest, was patented
by Robert Dove and John Anderton in 1664, but by 1686, it, too,
was owned by Bernard Johnson. The dwelling found at Garrett’
Chance is located within the bounds of the combined 350 acres
of Doves Nest and Doves Perch, and based on the date of occupation
it was most likely built by Johnson or one of his tenants.
Bernard Johnson died in 1702, leaving the
property to his two daughters and their husbands. In 1711, the
land conveyed from them to William Wilkerson, and there seems
to have been a major rehabilitation of the structure around
that time. At some point in the second quarter of the 18th century,
the house burned in a catastrophic fire and the site was abandoned
The Garrett’s Chance site was discovered during
Phase I excavations that preceded the placement of a housing development
in May 2004. Surface collection and shovel tests found an artifact scatter
over an area of about 50 x 50 feet. Data recovery took place when the
developer determined that the site could not be avoided. After shovel
tests and one unit excavated in plow zone found few artifacts, excavators
determined that the plow zone had eroded and needed no further sampling.
Plow zone was then mechanically removed to expose features.
Once stripped, the area exhibited a posthole pattern
delineating a 20 x 16.5 foot earthfast dwelling. Original postholes
were oriented so as to imply vertical construction (each side wall went
up as a unit). All six original postholes were accompanied by a replacement
posthole indicating that a major renovation had taken place, probably
in the early 18th century. A high quantity of daub found at the site
demonstrates that the house had a wattle and daub chimney. Within the
dwelling was a 26 ft2 root cellar with an apparent entryway. Its fill
included domestic refuse, but consisted primarily of debris from a fire
and the collapse of the chimney, such as burned daub, nails, charcoal,
melted glass, and window lead. The presence of a few nearly-whole ceramic
and glass vessels in the cellar indicated that it was still in use when
the house burned and that the fire was probably accidental.
Outside of the structure, eight borrow pits were excavated
in two main clusters. Their original purpose had presumably been clay
extraction for daub but they were later used for trash disposal. Diagnostic
artifacts showed that one cluster of pits was earlier than the other,
indicating at least one major rehabilitation or reconstruction episode
for the chimney.
|Gibb, James G.
||A Phase I Intensive Archaeological Survey of the Stanwick Farm,
Aquasco, Prince George’s County, Maryland,
Phase II Investigations
of Garrett’s Chance #3 (18PR704) and Phase II/III Investigations
of Garrett’s Chance
#2 (18PR703). Report submitted to Landesign
Engineers, Surveyors, & Planners. On file at the Maryland
Trust, Crownsville, Maryland.
The Garrett’s Chance archaeological
collection is owned by the Maryland Historical Trust and curated at
the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory.