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Blackmar-Eaton Project Phase III Data Recovery: Feature 44

Click here to see photos of feature 44 from phase III of the Blackmar-Eaton project.

Feature 44.

Feature 44 is interpreted as the backfilled foundation pit of MDS 1001, the site’s main domestic structure, built during Period I (1838-1857), and occupied until  Period III (1880 – pre 1929), when it was abandoned, demolished and covered by a grass lawn.  Here, a total of A total of 17,441 artifacts were recovered from at least six feature strata.

Period I – III (c.1838 – pre 1929)

The soil matrix surrounding and underlying the brick rubble contained a combination of architectural and domestic debris.  Domestic refuse found within Feature 44 included a wide variety of different functional types, including a range of food-related, food remains, clothing, personal and tools/arms group related artifacts. Food-related ceramics included a large amount of table/teawares, followed by food service wares, and food preparation / service wares, the majority of which were identified as whiteware, though lesser amounts of yellowware, redware, pearlware, white granite, stoneware and impostor white granite were also identified.

The most numerous of ceramic form were bowls, followed by plate, saucer and teacup forms.  Food related ceramics were found decorated in at least 16 different of mid-to-late 19th century styles. Besides undecorated fragments, transfer-printed was the most well represented decorative type. Feature 44 Food related glass objects include a much higher amount of bottle glass than that found in either of the other two feature assemblages, and include a variety of beer, liquor, wine and other beverage bottles, as well as fragments of at least one jar, and several drinking glasses.   Other food related objects include eating utensils including several spoons, knives and a fork.

A variety of food-related faunal artifacts were also recovered from Feature 44 contexts. Medium mammals were the most well represented faunal type, followed by pig, cattle, sheep, chicken and large mammal.  Other food related remains include duck, turkey, pigeon, hard-shell clam and fish.  Non-food ecofacts observed, in Feature 44 include small mammals, such as mouse, rat, muskrat, squirrel, as well as the remains of larger mammals, such as fox and cat.   It is possible that the cat represented within the feature assemblage were used by historic site occupants to catch the small mammal pests.

The majority of clothing-related artifacts were identified as leather shoe fragments; the next most represented artifact class was of buttons.  Though found throughout the feature, the highest button concentration was found directly below the collapsed brick chimney.  Several other types of clothing fasteners were also identified, including a variety of belt and suspender buckles.

Feature 44 exhibited a relatively low amount by count/weigh of charcoal, coal and coal ash as compared with the weight by volume of slag (3+ kg). Charcoal found in next highest density. The high slag concentration may be related to on-site blacksmithing, considering that MDS 1001 may have been re-used as a farm outbuilding after the second occupation (post 1880).

Architectural artifacts were found in density within Feature 44.  Most architectural remains by count and volume were identified as brick (400 kg) and structural stone (33 kg), found in context with a collapsed brick chimney.  Other construction materials included machine-cut nails, bolts, straps, hinges, and door handles, plaster fragments and thin, aqua colored window glass panes, along with several well preserved wooden boards, floor joists and posts that were uncovered at the feature’s base.

In addition to the well preserved wood artifacts, other objects recovered from Feature 44 also exhibited a high degree of preservation, including a wide variety of tobacco pipes, most notably a glazed George Washington figural pipe (c.1850-1855). Two U.S. 1 cent coins, including an 1858 and an 1864 U.S., both of which were sealed within and beneath the collapsed chimney, several glass furniture knobs, slate pencil fragments, a copper-alloy thermometer plate, a small glass cruet stopper, a porcelain figurine, scissor fragments, and a straight pin.

Additionally, several iron objects were found well preserved, including several tool fragments, a mower blade tooth, a saw blade fragment, an iron gutter spike, a swivel hook, fragments of a bucket and two iron milk-pan fragments.