|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. 38BK76 is located between Lake Moultrie and the Santee River near the town of St. Stephens, South Carolina in Berkeley County. The site consisted 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) and was occupied from the 1740s to the 1790s (Wheaton and Garrow 243). Thirteen structures, the majority of which were post-in-trench, were identified at the site along with an overseer’s house (the complex of Structure D and M) (Wheaton and Garrow 244). X artifacts were recovered from the site, the most abundant type was colonoware, composing forty percent of the artifact assemblage (Wheaton and Garrow 248).
38BK76 is the earlier of two Yaughan plantation sites excavated as part of archaeological mitigation. 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
38BK76 was excavated through a combination of surface survey, hand-excavated blocks, and machine-stripping (Wheaton and Garrow 244). The site was first tested by raking back thirty-five areas that were then surface collected (Wheaton et. al. 59). Fifteen 3’ x 3’ test units were excavated following the rake backs (Wheaton et. al. 64). It was then cleared by bulldozer and disked. A stratified random sample was surface collected by superimposing a 100 ft square grid over the site and random sampling ten 10 by 10 ft units within each 100 ft quadrat. Any artifact found outside one of the assigned 10 by 10 ft unit was collected and lumped together with the general 100 ft quadrat designation (Wheaton et. al. 89). Following surface collecting, two 30 by 30 ft blocks were divided into ten foot units each, with 6-inch baulks (Wheaton et. al. 92) and excavated to subsoil. Many features were excavated and some were not due to time constraints (see 38BK76 site map: numbered features were excavated; unlabeled features were not excavated). The entire site was mechanically stripped to approximately one to two inches of subsoil then shovel shaved to fully expose features (Wheaton et. al. 93), which were all drawn on site map but not all excavated due to time constraints. Hand-excavated units All hand-excavated units located in the two blocks at Yaughan 76 were dug using natural stratigraphy. All soil, excluding half of the root mat, 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
Thirteen structures were uncovered: three from block excavations and ten from mechanical stripping and shovel shaving. Eight were primarily trench structures, one was half trench and half posthole, and four were exclusively posthole construction (Wheaton et. al. 158). All the post-in-trench earthfast structures would have had mud walls with the posts providing added strength (Wheaton et. al. 193). Structures 76A and 76B were excavated by block excavation (Wheaton et. al. 92). Structure 76D consisted of a post-in-trench house (D1) with a later, larger post-in-ground addition (D2) (Wheaton et. al. 138). Structure 76E was the only one to have central and end trenches (Wheaton et. al. 140). Structure 76A was the most repaired building with all corner posts being replaced or repaired at least once (Wheaton et. al. 145). Structure 76B was two structures, one superimposed on the other: Structure B1 was a post-in-trench building and B2 was a post-in-ground structure. Wall trench construction was the most frequent building type at Yaughan 76. Associated trench features are long and narrow, ranging in width from 0.8 to 1.5 feet. Profiles were nearly vertically sided with flat bottoms. Trench depths ranged from 1.5 to 2.5 feet below ground surface, and lengths varied from 9.5 to over 40 feet. Commonly, two parallel trenches outlined a structure but in some cases, cross trenches were placed midway along the length and at the ends (Wheaton et. al. 98). The hypothesized building method of these structures consists of a trench being dug, followed by posts being placed down the centerline at once, and the trench refilled. Archaeological evidence at Yaughan 76 supports an earlier trench methodology followed by a later post construction building method.
- Measurements are in feet and tenths of feet
Spatial information recorded in individual context records and DAACS site maps for Yaughan 76 are based on the coordinate system established in the field that covers the entire site. Local grids that were established at excavation Blocks A and B have been converted to the large grid as well. There was no explicit spatial information found that tied the Phase I map, including locations of “rake backs” and test units, to the large grid. As a result, Phase I work is plotted on the site map using information recorded on Block A unit records.
- Contexts 76T through 76R: At least thirty-eight “raked back” areas (varying in size from five to thirty ft in diameter) were placed in the southeast, south and southwest quadrants of the site. They were visually inspected for artifacts after being raked back (ie. these are surface finds). Depicted as circular on the map.
- Contexts 76TU01 through TU15: Fifteen 3 x 3 ft units excavated to subsoil during testing phase “to more precisely locate the site boundaries and to understand the stratigraphy”. These were placed after defining the initial division between sites 38BK75 and 38BK76. We can get approx coordinates by aligning maps—no spatial info in DAACS currently.
- e.g. 76T-F001: Feature contexts excavated during testing phase. Note: Some of these features were located in what eventually became the two block excavation areas.
Trees smaller than 8-10 inches in diameter as well as piles of brush and branches left by recent logging were removed by a bulldozer over the entire site. The site was then disked using a garden tractor to a depth of one to two inches below ground surface. Following that, surface collections were made:
- Contexts 76-L001 through L011: Surface collection over 100 x 100 ft large surface collection units. Given coordinates based on large grid.
- Contexts 76-L012 through L124: Stratified random surface collection over 100 x 100 ft blocks were divided into a grid of 10 x 10 ft units and 10 randomly placed units were surface collected in each block. Given coordinates based on large grid.
In addition, two approx 30 x 30 ft block areas (A and B) were “hand excavated” at 38BK76:
- Contexts 76A-U16 through U26: 10 x 10 ft units placed in 30 x 30 ft block excavation oriented around Feature 1, found during testing phase, associated with Structure A. Excavated to subsoil. Given coordinates based on a Block A local grid.
- Contexts 76A-B1 through B9: Six-inch balks around each unit in Block A Excavation. They were removed after quadrats were excavated and profiles drawn.
- Contexts 76B-U27 through U39: 10 x 10 units in block excavation area B. Given coordinates based on a Block B local grid.
After surface collections and block excavations, the entire site was mechanically stripped down to one to two inches above subsoil in order to expose features and then shovel shaved using a garden tractor with a draw blade, then shovel shaved by hand. Features were then excavated and related contexts are identified as follows:
- e.g. context 76-F001 Feature contexts located outside Blocks A and B
- e.g. context 76A-F001 Feature contexts associated with Block A
- e.g. context 76B-F001 Feature contexts associated with Block B
The original excavators of the Yaughan 38BK76 site assigned numbers to individual features. Yaughan 76 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 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 76.
38BK76 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”). Contexts that could not be assigned to stratigraphic groups are identified by their individual context numbers (e.g. 76A-B1-5). 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 [2.73 MB PDF].
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.