Phase III Investigations, Site 44PG317, Fort Lee (FL1990.002)


Data recovery was performed at 44PG317, the Charles Gilliam site, in order to mitigate impacts caused by construction of Route 295 in Prince George County, Virginia. The site consists of remains of a 19th century farmstead which was owned and occupied by Charles Gilliam, a freed mulatto, and his heirs from ca. 1823 to ca. 1917. Mitigation consisted of on site data recovery, site specific historical document research, comparative studies of 19th century free blacks as represented in the historical record and comparative studies of 19th century slave and free black sites which have been reported in the literature. This research was designed to investigate questions concerning ethnicity and status as represented in the material culture record and free black ownership of slaves. Additionally, documentary sources were used to prepare an economic and historical analysis of free blacks residing in Prince George County during the 19th century. The report presents this information beginning with a social-historical study of free blacks in Prince George County followed by the data obtained during field excavation of the site 44PG317 and laboratory analysis of the artifacts recovered during excavation. A section of interpretations synthesizes the documentary and archaeological data bases to develop a site-specific analysis of the relative socia-economic levels of Charles Gilliam and his heirs with respect to the larger community. This section provides the basis for concluding remarks regarding the feasibility of using culture material sources to determine ethnicity and socia-economic level, the feasibility of using number of slaves owned to determine economic level in the case of free black slave-owners, and suggests that archaeological and documentary sources of information need to be more fully integrated when conducting studies on historical sites.

This project contains the survey report for 44PG317 and an artifact catalog for the site. This project also includes a thesis paper by Robin L. Ryder for the Department of Anthropology at the college of William and Mary in Virginia. The thesis paper provides information on Free African American Archaeology, focusing specifically on site 44PG317 in Fort Lee, Virginia.

Cite this Record

Phase III Investigations, Site 44PG317, Fort Lee (FL1990.002). ( tDAR id: 392561) ; doi:10.6067/XCV85H7HN5

Spatial Coverage

min long: -77.372; min lat: 37.223 ; max long: -77.297; max lat: 37.27 ;

Record Identifiers

Accession Number (s): FL1990.002

Virginia Department of Transportation Project #(s): 0095-074-101, C503, C506

Resources Inside this Project (Viewing 1-3 of 3)


  1. Archaeological and Historical Investigations of 44PG317, An Early 19th Century Free Black Farmstead Located in Prince George County, Virginia (1990)
    DOCUMENT Full-Text Robin L. Ryder. Archaeological Research Center, Virginia Commonwealth University.

    This report presents the results of a Phase 3 data recovery performed at 44PG317 (the Charles Gilliam Site) in Prince George County, Va. (Fig. 1). 44PG317 was discovered in December of 1988 during construction of Route 295 in Prince George County. Phase 2 evaluations indicated that the site was owned and occupied throughout the 19th century by Charles A. Gilliam, a freed mulatto, and his descendants, Mary Ann Gilliam, Susan Gilliam, Henry Gilliam and Maria Gilliam. A number of intact features...

  2. Free African American Archaeology: Interpreting an Antebellum Farmstead, Site 44PG317, Fort Lee (1991)
    DOCUMENT Full-Text Robin L. Ryder.

    The purpose of this work is to examine material culture recovered from the Charles A. Gilliam site, 44PG317, within an interpretive, contextual framework. The site represents the remains of a middling farmstead which was owned and occupied by Charles Gilliam, a free African American, and his heirs from ca. 1823 to 1917. This study concentrates on the period 1823-1865 when Charles lived at the site. Ceramics recovered from the site, and the information provided by the architectural remains are...


  1. Artifact Catalog, Site 44PG317, Fort Lee (2013)
    DATASET Fort Lee Regional Archaeological Curation Facility.

    This resource contains an artifact catalog from Phase III of site 44PG317, located at Fort Lee, Virginia.