|Location:||Curriboo, Berkeley County, South Carolina, United States|
|Occupation Dates:||Second-quarter 18th century to circa 1800. Phasing and mean ceramic dates can be found on the Chronology page.|
|Excavator(s):||Soil Systems, Inc.|
In 1979, Soil Systems Inc. embarked on a groundbreaking project resulting in the earliest and most extensively excavated slave-related sites in the southeast. Project Investigators Pat Garrow and Tom Wheaton headed mitigation fieldwork in advance of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Cooper River Rediversion Canal Project. The archaeological component, known as The Cooper River Historic Sites Investigation, included surface collection, metal detector survey, mechanical stripping, and excavation, and focused most intensively on three sites containing slave quarters: Yaughan 75 and Yaughan 76 both located on Yaughan Plantation; and Curriboo 245, located on Curriboo Plantation.
Curriboo 245 is located between Lake Moultrie and the Santee River near the town of St. Stephens, South Carolina in Berkeley County. It is located three-quarters of a mile from Yaughan 75 and Yaughan 76 and the same distance from the river. The site consisted of multiple slave dwellings and plantation outbuildings belonging to the Curriboo plantation, an indigo and rice plantation owned by Huguenots and was occupied from the 1740s to shortly after 1800 (Wheaton and Garrow 243).
Curriboo 245 was heavily impacted by mechanical stripping prior to mitigation. Eleven structures were identified at the site. An excavation block was opened to expose a brick-piered structure (Structure 245C1, a possible overseer’s house) which was discovered to overlie an earlier trench structure (Structure 245C2) with an associated cellar. A separate cellar (245A) was excavated but was severely damaged and no remnants of an associated structure were present. In addition, a severely damaged brick clamp (245K) was recorded (Wheaton et. al. 98 and 191). Several features that are interpreted as irrigation channels or ditches were also excavated in the southern area of the site. The most significant artifact type recovered was colonoware, which composed over fifty percent of the artifact assemblage (Wheaton and Garrow 248).
The histories of Curriboo and Yaughan Plantations are related. When Samuel Thomas sold Yaughan to Isaac Cordes in 1742, the description of the 650-acre tract referred to lands southeast of Yaughan “belonging to Isaac and Thomas Cordes” (Deed Book R-5 : 187 ). This is probably Curriboo, which Isaac Cordes and his brother Thomas, known as “Colonel Thomas Cordes”, had acquired from Ellery or his estate.
A 1745 inventory of Isaac Cordes’ personal property lists slaves, livestock and “Sundries at Correboo [sic] between Coll Thomas Cordes and the Estate” (Inventory of Isaac Cordes, 9 August 1745, pp. 328-330). Although earlier references to the ownership of this plantation were oblique, the Cordes brothers had acquired Curriboo by 1745. Thomas Cordes died in 1748 and willed Curriboo, then consisting of 1390 acres, to his second son Samuel. Between 1745 and 1748, Thomas Cordes severed the relationship between Curriboo and his brother’s estate, and his branch of the family became the sole occupants and owners of the plantation.
Samuel Cordes bequeathed Curriboo to his eldest son Thomas (d. 1799) in 1796. Thomas Cordes, also known as Thomas Cordes, Jr., to distinguish him from his cousin Thomas Cordes (d. 1806) who then resided at Yaughan, willed three plantations including Curriboo to his only son James Jamieson Cordes, only one year old at the time of his father’s death in 1799. He appears to have been brought up in Charleston primarily, and in 1845, he and his brothers in-law, who were his attorneys, sold the 2,255- acre Curriboo Plantation to Charles Macbeth. Four years later, Macbeth sold the entire tract to Robert Press Smith, who then began to divide the plantation.
Excavation history, procedure, and methods
There was no pre-mitigation testing at 38BK245. The importance of the site was not recognized until it had been heavily damaged by the excavation of a large borrow pit by Corps contractors (Wheaton et. al. 71). Topsoil was stripped before mitigation could be conducted by archaeologists (Wheaton et. al. 92). Controlled surface collections were made during the mitigation phase as there was no testing phase (Wheaton et. al. 89). A 50 by 50 ft grid was set up across the site and artifacts were intensively collected within each 50 ft square (Wheaton et. al. 92).
Following surface collection, the entire gridded area was mechanically cleared and shovel shaved to expose any features. Artifacts recovered during stripping were added to the general artifact collection for the site (Wheaton et. al. 93).
A 30 by 30 ft block was placed to investigate a surface brick feature and associated structure (Structure 245C1). The block was hand excavated in ten foot units with 6-inch baulks (Wheaton et. al. 92). It was discovered that this structure directly overlaid an earlier one (Structure 245C2). Nine or ten brick piers associated with C1 rested on and were aligned with the trenches of C2. Structure C2 had an associated cellar that was sectioned and the northeast and northwest quadrants were excavated.
In addition to the block excavation at 245C, a brick clamp (245K) and a cellar (245A) were also hand excavated. The cellar was quartered first, then entirely excavated in natural layers to it’s sand floor. No remnants of an associated structure were found. Structure 245K, a brick clamp, had been severely impacted by construction and an attempt was made during mitigation to salvage what little remained of it. This was undertaken by trenching through its center in order to determine the deepest part of the intact feature, then dividing it into quadrants and hand excavating them.
Structures B, D, E, F, G, and H:
These are all located in the southern area of the site, in the mechanically-stripped area. Structures are all similarly oriented in a northeast/southwest direction, two of which are double-bay structures. Most of the structures and associated features were drawn and not excavated after the area was stripped
One structure, Structure B, had several features that were excavated: every isolated posthole for the structure, replacement postholes along the southeast wall, two test cross-sections of the house trenches, and two-to-three inches of the remaining trenches were excavated in order to to examine them for postmolds as complete excavation of these was not feasible.
Of note at this site were several trenches that are hypothesized to be irrigation channels or ditches. Their alignment was generally northeast-southwest. In general, five foot sections of each were excavated in order to obtain profiles and bottom depths.
Summary of research and analysis
38BK245 consisted of eleven structures: eight within the mechanically stripped area; one in the borrow pit; and two on the north edge (Wheaton et. al. 191).
Structure 245A, was only represented by one feature, a cellar. Structure 245C was block excavated and discovered to be two structures: 245C1 and 245C2. 245C1 was built on brick piers and was the only structure with an indoor fireplace and brick chimney (Wheaton et. al. 102). It was built directly on top of 245C2, a trench structure with a cellar (Wheaton et. al. 190). Structure 245C1 likely served an administrative function, while the earlier 245C2 was interpreted by the Principal Investigators as serving a function related to the processing and housing of naval stores (Wheaton et. al. 191).
In addition to naval stores activity having taken place at Curriboo, the Principal Investigators hypothesized that brick was also produced at the site, evidenced by a brick clamp (Structure 245K), which was represented by a charcoal stain and scattered, broken brick due to extensive damage by the excavation of a borrow pit at its location (Wheaton et. al. 182 and 185).
Structure G was a posthole structure located northwest of Structure B. The wide spacing of posts and the fact that the northeast and southwest ends had no intermediate postholes led to the conclusion it may have served a function such as a covered work area.
Structure H, likely a barn, was the largest encountered throughout the project and was located south of Structures B and G. It had two entrances located along the side of the structure and a dirt floor.
Leslie Cooper and Jesse Sawyer
The Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery
- Measurements are in feet and tenths of feet
Spatial information recorded in individual context records and DAACS site maps for Curriboo 245 are based on the coordinate system established in the field that covers the entire site. Local grids that were established over the site were converted to the large grid as well.
1. Surface collection was carried out over 50 x 50 ft large surface collection units. These contexts were given coordinates based on large grid.
- e.g. Contexts 245-L01 through L28
In addition, four areas were more intensively investigated and have context prefixes associated with their respective structure IDs:
2. One 30 by 30 ft block was excavated at Structure C. All contexts and features associated with Structure C will have a 245C prefix.
- e.g. Context 245C-U04: Context from Unit 04 at Structure C
- e.g. Context 245C-B01-5 Baulk context associated with Structure
3. Three more structures, 245A, 245B and 245K were more intensively investigated. Their respective contexts are as follows:
- e.g. Context prefix 245A: Contexts associated with Structure A
- e.g. Context 245K-1-1: Context from unit at Structure K
- e.g. Context 245K-F1-1: Context from Feature 1 at Structure K
- e.g. Context prefix 245B: Contexts associated with Structure B
4. Also, trenches and other features not associated with structures were investigated:
- e.g. Context 245-F03: Context from a feature at the site not associated with a structure
- The associated feature for the above context is simply F03.
5. Feature assignments for those associated with structures:
- Feature 245A A cellar feature
- e.g. Feature C-F01 A feature associated with Structure C
- e.g. Feature F01 Feature located in the general site area, not associated with a structure
- Features F11A through F11U are associated with Structure B at the site. Letter suffixes were added by DAACS to postmold features that are part of the structure and not originally assigned feature numbers in the field.
38BK245 Harris Matrix
The Harris Matrix summarizes stratigraphic relationships among excavated contexts and groups of contexts that DAACS staff has identified as part of the same stratigraphic group. Stratigraphic groups and contexts are represented as boxes. Lines that connect these boxes represent temporal relationships implied by the site’s stratification, as recorded by the site’s excavators (Harris 1979).
Stratigraphic groups, which represent multiple contexts, are identified on the diagram by their numeric designations (e.g. SG01) followed by the original excavator’s descriptions of them (e.g. “topsoil/root mat”). Contexts that could not be assigned to stratigraphic groups are identified by their individual context numbers (e.g. 245-F08-1).
Boxes with color fill represent contexts and stratigraphic groups with ceramic assemblages large enough to be included in the DAACS seriation of the site (see Chronology). Their seriation-based phase assignments are denoted by different colors to facilitate evaluation of the agreement between the stratigraphic and seriation chronologies. Grey boxes represent contexts that were not included in the seriation because of small ceramic samples.
See the Curriboo Chronology page for Stratigraphic and Phase information.
This Harris Matrix is based on data on stratigraphic relationships recorded among contexts in the DAACS database. It was drawn with the ArchEd application. See http://www.ads.tuwien.ac.at/arched/index.html.
For a printable version, download the Harris Matrix [2.72 MB PDF].
2003 Tangible Interaction: Evidence from Stobo Plantation in Historical Archaeology, Vol. 37, No. 4 Edited by J.W. Joseph and Martha Zierden.
1989 Lowcountry Plantations, The Catawba Nation, and River Burnished Pottery in Anthropological Studies. Book 10. Goodyear, Albert C. and Hanson, Glen T.