|Location:||Berkeley County, South Carolina.|
|Excavator(s):||Thomas Wheaton, Patrick Garrow, and archaeologists with 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: 38BK75 and 38BK76 both located on Yaughan Plantation; and 38BK245, located on Curriboo Plantation.
The sites, located on former rice and indigo plantations, contained evidence of twenty-nine structures including domestic slave quarters, an overseer’s house, and several plantation outbuildings. In addition to evidence of both trench earthfast structures and later post-in-ground structures, the sites contained an unprecedented amount of colonoware. The importance of the sites was thus well established, and in 2010 A Save America’s Treasures Grant was awarded to the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology (SCIAA) and DAACS, allowing for the digitization, cataloging and re-analysis of all materials recovered from them.
The site occupied the latest, 38BK75, is located between Lake Moultrie and the Santee River near the town of St. Stephens, South Carolina in Berkeley County. Initially discovered by Brockington during an earlier survey, he described the site as a heavy concentration of eighteenth and early nineteenth-century artifacts in an open field, including a heavy concentration of colonoware (Brockington 1980: 45-47; Garrow et al 1983: 57). He recommended further testing and mitigation which subsequently resulted in the extensive 1979 fieldwork resulting in the identification of multiple slave dwellings belonging to the Yaughan plantation, an indigo and rice plantation owned by Huguenots (Wheaton et. al. 15-16; Wheaton and Garrow 242). Historical documentation indicates 38BK75 was occupied from the 1780s to the 1820s (Wheaton and Garrow 244).
The remains of five identified structures and two possible ones, the majority of which were post-in-ground, were excavated at 38BK75 (Wheaton et. al. 98; Wheaton et. al. 129). A 40-ft block was placed around a feature discovered during testing, in order to further investigate any related structures. Block excavation revealed two post structures, one with an extensive floor midden that was investigated, underneath of which revealed an earlier trench structure that was not excavated due to time constraints. The block excavation also contained the only site at Yaughan with an identifiable hearth (Wheaton et. al. 118). X artifacts were recovered from the site, the most abundant type was colonoware, composing forty percent of the artifact assemblage (Wheaton and Garrow 248).
The earliest reference to Yaughan Plantation dates from 1737. The 650 acre tract conveyed by Richard Allen to Edward Thomas, “known by the name of Yaughan”, was part of a larger, 1200-acre tract. Thomas left this property to his son Samuel, who in turn sold it and the adjacent 596-acre property to Isaac Cordes in 1742. The two tracts became known as Yaughan Plantation and by 1745, the inventory of Isaac Cordes’ estate lists cattle, sheep, hogs, horses and some household goods at “Youshan” (Inventory of Isaac Cordes, 9 August 1745, Inventories 67:A:329). The chain of plantation ownership continues from Isaac to his son John, who died in 1756. John Cordes left his real estate equally divided between his two sons, John and Thomas, who were children at the time of his death. A cousin, Samuel Cordes, became their guardian in 1756, and Yaughan appears to have functioned primarily as an indigo plantation under the daily supervision of a series of overseers (Account Book, Estate John Cordes, 1764-1798). John Cordes attained his majority in 1768, and although local tradition states that he inherited all of his father’s property by law of primogeniture (Dubosen.d.:50-51), John Cordes clearly continued to administer Yaughan Plantation on behalf of his brother Thomas (Account Book, Estate of John Cordes,1764-1798). In 1773, Thomas Cordes formally accepted his share of his father’s estate from his uncle, and his brother John confirmed his title by deeding him half of their father’s estate in what appears to have been a straw-man transaction.
Thomas Cordes had already begun to participate in local parish affairs, and, thus, he had probably begun to reside at least part of the year at Yaughan. Although he took an active role in the Revolutionary War, his name appears periodically in parish records through the 1770s. He married in 1784, and records of various neighbors in the post-war years indicate that he bought indigo and rice seed, evidently to receive the plantation’s prewar functions despite changes in the indigo market, which put the American grown commodity at a severe disadvantage. He and his family continued to live at the plantation until his death in 1809.
His widow left the property divided equally among her children when she died in 1826, and ten years later, her three daughters sold their interest in Yaughan to Solomon Clarke. Records indicate it is not likely that Clarke spent a great amount of time at Yaughan. In 1850, he sold the property to J.W. Thurston, who began to subdivide the property in 1857. The separate parcels changed hands several times over the next century and tended generally to decrease in size (Wheaton et. al. 1983).
Excavation history, procedure, and methods
38BK75 was partially excavated through a combination of hand-excavated blocks and machine-stripping (Wheaton and Garrow 244). Testing at 38BK75 started with surface collection and metal detector survey across a 50’ grid. Sixteen test units were then placed across the area (Wheaton et. al. 57). A 40’ x 40’ block divided into ten foot units with 6-inch baulks was excavated (Wheaton et. al. 92). A clay floor (F05) was discovered in this block during unit excavation and was consequently divided into 2 by 2 ft sections and excavated separately. Additionally, F33, a possible floor or cellar scatter located north of the excavation block, was trenched (see DAACS site map) because complete excavation was not possible due to time constraints.
Following the surface collection and block excavations, the entire site was mechanically stripped of topsoil to approximately one to two inches of subsoil then shovel shaved to fully expose features for mapping (Wheaton et. al. 93). After an area was mapped, all of the major features were wholly or partially excavated depending on time constraints. Drawings, photographs, and soil samples were taken of each feature excavated.
All hand-excavated units located in the block at Yaughan 75 were dug using natural stratigraphy. All soil was dry screened through 1/4 inch mesh. Soil samples were taken at each level from representative units across the block.
Summary of research and analysis
Five structures were uncovered at 38BK75: three in the block excavation and two from mechanical stripping and shovel shaving (Wheaton et. al. 98); this total does not include two possible structures (Wheaton et. al. 129). All but two, including the possible structures, were post-in-ground constructed (Wheaton et. al. 129). The most significant structure was Structure B, which was composed of two parallel and slightly-offset posthole buildings (B1 & B2) (Wheaton et. al. 104).
Structure 75B2 had a floor midden/scatter (DAACS feature F05). It was originally thought to be trash scatter and was excavated in 10 by 10 ft quadrats making up the block excavation which revealed a line of postholes. After the discovery that F05 was most likely a floor surface, the remaining portion was gridded into two-foot squares and excavated. This excavation exposed the remaining postholes of 75B2 as well as the faint outlines of a third, earlier post-in-trench building though the trenches were not excavated. Due to the lack of postmolds visible in the trenches, it was assumed that the posts of 75B2 directly replaced the posts that had been in the trenches (Wheaton et. al. 113). A hearth, the only one located at Yaughan Plantation, was located just to the north of Structure 75B1 (DAACS feature F25) (Wheaton et. al. 118).
Structure 75C, likely a square structure, was located in a mechanically stripped area north of the Structure B block excavation. Due to its small size and posthole construction, it was hypothesized to be a shed rather than a domestic structure. No postholes at Structure C were excavated but a test trench was excavated through F33, a related trash pit (Wheaton et. al. 123).
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 Yaughan 75 are based on the coordinate system established in the field that covers the entire site. Local grids that were established at excavation Blocks B and C have been converted to the large grid as well.
- Contexts 75T-L01 through L63: Surface collection over 50 x 50 ft large units. A map that references this grid with the block excavations was not located; therefore, no coordinates are given for these surface collection contexts.
- Contexts 75T-U01 through U16: Sixteen 3 x 3 ft test units placed in areas at site likely to produce the most information. The only unit that is plotted on the site map is 75T-U01. Exact locations of other test units are unknown.
In addition, block area B was “hand excavated”:
- Contexts 75B-U16 through U49: 10 x 10 ft units placed in block excavation oriented around Test Phase Feature 1, associated with Structure A. Excavated to subsoil. Given coordinates based on a Block A local grid.
- Contexts 75B-B1 through B19: Six-inch balks around each unit in Block B Excavation.
- Contexts 75B-F05-01 through 75B-F05-54: 2 x 2 units in grid overlying Feature 5, a clay floor in block excavation B.
An excavation block, C, was excavated northwest of Structure B:
- Contexts 75C-F033-1 through F033-2: Test trench contexts part of the only area excavated at Structure C; no other associated quadrats or features excavated.
The original excavators of the Yaughan 38BK75 site assigned numbers to individual features. Yaughan 75 feature numbers were assigned consecutively throughout the entire project. Excavators assigned feature numbers using an F-prefix that precedes the number (i.e. F001 is Feature 1).
Feature groups are sets of features whose spatial arrangements indicate they were part of a single structure (e.g. structural postholes, subfloor pits, and hearth) or landscape element (e.g. postholes that comprise a fenceline). Feature Groups assigned by DAACS have a FG-prefix, which precedes the number (i.e. FG01 equals Feature Group 1). Feature Groups were not assigned by the original excavators of Yaughan 75.
38BK75 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. SG06) followed by the original excavator’s descriptions of them (e.g. “Plowzone”). Contexts that could not be assigned to stratigraphic groups are identified by their individual context numbers (e.g. 75B-U16-3).
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 Yaughan 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 [1.04 MB PDF].
CAD plan in PDF format.
2003 Tangible Interaction: Evidence from Stobo Plantation, Another's country: Archaeological and Historical Perspectives on Cultural Interactions in the Southern Colonies 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, Studies in South Carolina Archaeology: Essays in Honor of Robert L. Stephenson in Anthropological Studies. Book 10. Goodyear, Albert C. and Hanson, Glen T.