Patuxent Point (18CV271)
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 free, white 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 primary 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 and 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 structure. 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 was 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 contained 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 plantation sites 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 ware, North Devon gravel-tempered, gravel-free, and sgrafitto earthenware varieties, Staffordshire slipware, Red Sandy earthenware, Buckley ware, Iberian ware, 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.
More than 1900 tobacco pipe fragments, including both white clay and terra cotta examples, were recovered at Patuxent Point. Twenty one had maker’s marks, with that of Llewellin Evans being the most common. The marks of William Evans and John Sinderling were also present in the assemblage, along with five unidentified marks. Ten white clay tobacco pipe bowls are decorated with 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 cotta 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 more than 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 fishing and hunting. Architectural hardware included eight window leads, six hinges, and one key fragment, while 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 aiglet 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.
Gardner, William. 1988. Archaeological Investigations at the Proposed Patuxent Point Development (Phase 1) and 18CV272 (Phase II and III) Near Solomons, Maryland. Report prepared for CRJ Associates, Inc., Camp Springs, Maryland.
Gibb, James G. 1993. English Trade Tokens from a 17th Century Colonial Site in Southern Maryland. Maryland Archaeology 1 & 2: 55-60.
Gibb, James G. 1994. “Dwell Here, Live Plentifully, and be Rich”: Consumer Behavior and the Interpretation of 17th Century Archaeological Assemblages from the Chesapeake Bay Region. Ph.D. dissertation, State University of New York-Binghamton.
Gibb, James G. 1996. The Archaeology of Wealth: Consumer Behavior in English America. Plenum Press, New York.
Gibb, James G., and Julia King. 1991. Gender, Activity Areas, and Homelots in the 17th-Century Chesapeake Region. Historical Archaeology 25(4): 109-131.
King, Julia A., and Douglas H. Ubelaker, eds. 1996. Living and Dying on the 17th Century Patuxent Frontier. Maryland Historical Trust Press, Crownsville, MD.
Weinand, Daniel C., and Elizabeth J. Reitz. 1993. Vertebrate Fauna from the Historic Patuxent Point Site (18CV271), Maryland. Manuscript on file, Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, St. Leonard, MD.
Further Information on the Collection
The Patuxent Point collection is owned by the State of Maryland and curated by the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory. For more information about the collection and collection access, contact Rebecca J. Morehouse, Collections Manager, at 410-586-8583; email email@example.com.
Cite this Record
Patuxent Point (18CV271). ( tDAR id: 6070) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8VX0HZ7
This Resource is Part of the Following Collections
Calendar Date: 1658 to 1699
min long: -77.498; min lat: 36.633 ; max long: -75.41; max lat: 39.368 ;
Individual & Institutional Roles
Project Director(s): Julia King
Resources Inside this Project (Viewing 1-32 of 32)
- Artifact Distribution Maps from Patuxent Point (2004)
- Artifact Images from Patuxent Point (2004)
- Midden Analysis Charts from Patuxent Point (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): Artifact Distributions, Clothing and Sewing Items (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): Artifact Distributions, Gunflint Flakes (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): Artifact Distributions, Morgan Jones (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): Artifact Distributions, Rhenish Blue and Gray Stoneware (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): Artifact Distributions, Table Glass (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): Artifact Distributions, Terra Cotta Pipes (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): Artifact Distributions, Tin-Glazed Earthenware (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): Artifact Distributions, White Clay Tobacco Pipes (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): Artifact Distributions, Wine Bottle Glass (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): Bone Handle (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): Copper Alloy Dividers (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): Furniture Hardware (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): General Site Map (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): Iron Hoe (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): Knife Blades (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): Knife Blades (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): Latten Spoon (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): Lead-glazed Earthenware Bowl (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): Midden Analysis, Artifact Classes (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): Midden Analysis, Bone Weight in Grams (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): Midden Analysis, Ceramic Types (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): Midden Analysis, Vessel Form (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): Midden Analysis, Vessels (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): Midden Analysis, White Clay Pipe Bore Diameters (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): Midden Map (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): North Devon Sgraffito (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): Pewter Cuff Links (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): Terra Cotta Pipes (2004)
- Patuxent Point (18CV271): White Clay Pipes (2004)