Saturday, January 31, 2009

Exhibit's New Temporary Home

Our traveling exhibit is now parked at the College of Southern Maryland Library, La Plata campus. On behalf of the PTAP team, I thank college president Dr. Brad Gottfried and director of the library Tom Repenning for loaning us this space. We are always looking for new venues through which we can share Port Tobacco discoveries.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Library Findings

Jim and I stopped into the library at the College of Southern Maryland yesterday to get another look at the Wearmouth collection. We each took separate boxes and looked through them to see what was there. Jim spent time looking at the US Geological Surveys and soil descriptions while the box I had was filled with newspaper clippings from the effort to reconstruct the courthouse in 1970.

There was also a book of state law belonging to John Mitchell, attorney, 1860's, Port Tobacco. I flipped through it and noticed several blank, lined pages in it at the beginning and then at the end. One page at the end had a note with a new law hand written in it. My guess is that attorneys carried these books around with them and added new laws or crossed out old ones as they came in and out of use.

Another record I found interesting was the log book of Alexious Waters, blacksmith, 1868,1869, & 1870, Port Tobacco. In it were lists of what he had made, and for whom, in and around town. This will be of great value to us as we start doing more biographical research on residents. It will also give us economic data on the town as well.

We only spent about an hour or so at the college and there is alot more to go through, which we will.

- Peter

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Quick Update from Ohio

While the boys are off on their multitude of adventures, I will slip in here and update everyone on the March Campaign. Thanks to the generosity of Shelia Smith, Heidelberg University (same college, new name), and the Sleep Inn of La Plata, I will be arriving in Maryland with a van load of students on March 7. These students are giving up half of their Spring Break to do archaeological work at Port Tobacco and the entire team (minus Dio whose university scheduled their Spring Break for the wrong week) will be out there in support.

Mark your calendars. March 8, 9, 10, & 12 will officially begin the archaeological field season at Port Tobacco.

If you have volunteered with us before or have just thought about volunteering, plan to come out one or all of those days and work alongside us as we begin our Preserve America research into the role of Port Tobacco residents in the conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.

Mark your calendars. March 10th evening program at Port Tobacco.

We at Heidelberg are preparing an exhibit of Lincoln memorabilia that will be installed in the Port Tobacco courthouse museum. Our exhibit opening will coincide with the monthly meeting of the Charles County Archaeological Society. Celebrate the Lincoln Bicentennial with us at 7:30pm on March 10th.

That's it for now.
Don't tell the boys I was here.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mixed Bag

Pete and I have been preparing today for a mixed bag of activities tomorrow. We'll start by examining a small family cemetery in Prince George's County in the morning, delineating and mapping as necessary, then down to Bel Alton (south of Port Tobacco) to look at a possible one-room school house site, then up to the College of Southern Maryland to continue lot research and to examine the hydrographic reports that I mentioned yesterday. One of us will give you a run-down on our findings in the evening.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Flood Control or Navigation Improvement?

While searching through the Acts of the General Assembly for the State of Maryland, I came across a law (Laws of 1864, Chapter 299) authorizing the Charles County Commissioners to raise up to $600 through a levy (tax) to pay for "opening and straightening of a stream, at Port Tobacco, known by the name of Port Tobacco Run."

I haven't found a record of the discussions or of the original petition...yet...that explains this act. I suspect it was part of the effort that led to the construction of the 'canal' at Port Tobacco, a ditch of undocumented size that probably dates to the 1870s and that likely was constructed to facilitate drainage and to make dry land where previously there was swamp.

Pete and I also noticed while sifting through the Wearmouth collection at the College of Southern Maryland that there are reports by the US Army Corps of Engineers (12/21/1882 and 1/26/1897) and the Coastal & Geodectic Survey (1903; now the US Geological Survey) on Port Tobacco Creek and the Potomac River, respectively. Next time we are at the College (hopefully later this week) I plan to review these reports and see what might be learned about the sedimentation of Port Tobacco Creek.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Aborted Attempt at Re-Platting

We know that Charles Town was platted in 1729. We also know from several deeds that its predecessor, Chandler's Town, also was platted. We do not know what, if any concordance there may have been between the two.

Less well known is a provision of the 1820 Act (Chapter 159, passed February 13, 1821 by the General Assembly) in which the newly renamed Port Tobacco was to be re-platted. Here's the language:

The appointed commissioners were given "full and ample power and authority to cause the said town to be resurveyed and laid out by the county surveyor, or other competent person, to ascertain and limit the extent of the lots, streets and lanes thereof, according to the best evidence that can be obtained, and to cause the same to be marked and bounded."

The fifth section of the act orders the town commissioners to "cause a full and complete plot thereof, together with a certificate of their proceedings in virtue of their act, to be recorded among the land records of Charles county, and a duplicate of said plots, duly certified, to be pasted on linen or board and delivered to the clerk of Charles county, to be by him filed among the records of his office, for the inspection of all the persons interested, and that the said plot shall thereafter be considered, deemed and taken, as the true plot of Port Tobacco, heretofore called Charles-town, and the proprietors of lots and houses in said town shall be vested within as good, sure and indefeasible an estate, of and in their several and respective lots and houses, laid down in the manner herein before directed, as if the original plot of Charles-town had never been torn or defaced."

Chapter 90 of the Laws of 1821 repealed those provisions; therefore, no plat was made. We do not know what happened to that "torn and defaced" 1729 plat.

The General Assembly did affirm a provision in the 1820 law empowering the town constable to seize and impound stray geese and swine. I could add a smart remark here, but I will let you exercise your own creativity. Feel free to offer your own snarky comment and, as long as its clean, we'll post it.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

My Heart's in the Highlands

My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here;
My heart's in the Highlands, a-chasing a deer;
A-chasing the wild deer, and following the roe--
My heart's in the Highlands wherever I go.

Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North,
The birthplace of valor, the country of worth;
Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,
The hills of the Highlands forever I love.

Farewell to the mountains high cover'd with snow;
Farewell to the straths and green valleys below;
Farewell to the forests and and wild hanging woods;
Farewell to the torrents and loud pouring floods.

My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here;
My heart's in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;
A-chasing the wild deer, and following the roe--
My heart's in the Highlands wherever I go.

Robert Burns (January 25, 1759-July 21, 1796)