Cosmic Context, Emancipated Persons, Germantown Parsonage

Author(s): Christophe R. Lindner; Ethan P. Dickerman

Year: 2020


This is a poster submission presented at the 2020 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

A 1767 slave-owning Calvinist minister’s cellar in Germantown NY holds a fireplace with punctate figures in its wooden frame: sailboat, smoking pipe, and BaKongo cosmogram. Beneath the adjacent hearthstones, amidst rubble fill, student excavators plotted clusters of symbolic objects: quartz crystals, blue glass beads, buttons, a shale pebble etched with two ‘X’ marks. The symbolically charged artifacts likely coincide with residency at the Parsonage by the Person family, African Americans who owned the property 1852-1911. Mary Person may have been born into slavery at the Parsonage site in 1805. Her husband, Henry, probably began life enslaved on a neighboring farm. The 1850 census lists their grown sons as boatmen. Fish scales of herring, caught in the nearby Hudson estuary, occur in their hearth’s sediments. The African American neighborhood around the Parsonage at mid-century receives context from cartographic work on 1800s census data for Germantown and the surrounding former Livingston Manor.

Cite this Record

Cosmic Context, Emancipated Persons, Germantown Parsonage. Christophe R. Lindner, Ethan P. Dickerman. 2020 ( tDAR id: 457408)

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Temporal Keywords
18th-20th centuries

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 674