|Location:||Albemarle County, Virginia, United States|
|Occupation Dates:||Last quarter 18th through the third quarter 20th century. Phasing and mean ceramic dates can be found on the Chronology page.|
|Excavator(s):||John Milner and Associates; William and Mary Center for Archaeological Research; Rivanna Archaeological Services|
|Dates excavated:||1988; 2001, 2003; 2005-2007|
Bowles’ Lot (44AB374) is an archaeological site located within “Free State,” a post-Emancipation African-American rural community in Albemarle County, Virginia. The site lies within the boundaries of a 224-acre parcel purchased in 1788 by Amy Bowles Farrow, a free woman of color, and represents the primary residential locus of multiple descendent generations of Bowles into the 20th century.
Archaeological and historical interest in Free State arose during development of the Dunlora subdivision, which began in the mid-1990s, and ultimately extended across roughly two-thirds of the area of the by then largely abandoned community. In 2000 and 2001, the Albemarle County Planning Commission was informed of the potential historical significance of the Free State area by a group of local historians and archaeologists (Preservation Piedmont 2001). Local testimony associated the Free State community with newly emancipated slaves during the late 19th century; however, documentary research revealed that much of the area was owned and occupied by free African-Americans beginning as early as the mid-18th century (Bob Vernon, cited in ACPC 2001). Although one historic cemetery was relocated during the development of Dunlora, the subdivision was constructed without prior archaeological investigation and documentation (although portions of the area had been previously surveyed in association with planned road construction). Plans to develop the neighboring Belvedere subdivision rekindled interest in property, and newly adopted ordinances allowed County administrators to request that archaeological studies and other efforts at impact mitigation be undertaken prior to development. An initial reconnaissance survey of the Belvedere tract concluded that Bowle’s Lot (44AB374), together with four other sites (44AB510, 44AB511, 44AB513), were eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places (Underwood et al. 2004:34).
In 2005, Rivanna Archaeological Services conducted an intensive Phase I archaeological survey over 30 acres that represented the area of overlap between the planned Belvedere subdivision and the remaining core area of the historic Free State community. Phase I survey identified a series of seven sites, most of which date to the late 19th-early 20th century and are associated with the post-Emancipation community known as Free State. Eventually, clearing of undergrowth and modern trash also revealed the location of an abandoned and “lost” cemetery associated with the Bowles family suspected on the basis of oral history and documentary evidence to have been in the area (Thompson 2005, 2006a).
In 2006, Phase II survey confirmed that the Bowles’ Lot (44AB374) was a multi-component site with three residential occupations, one of which may have been the residential locus of the first free African-Americans to occupy the large property (possibly including Amy Farrow, Zachariah Bowles and/or Critta Hemings Bowles), and the Bowles Family Cemetery (Thompson 2006b). In 2007, Phase III data recovery excavations focused particularly on the site’s earliest residential component (Thompson 2010; Figure 1). While the Bowles Family Cemetery has been preserved in place, following completion of Phase III excavations the remainder of Bowles’ Lot, Site 44AB374, was developed.
Bowles’ Lot lies within the 224-acre property that Amy Farrow, purchased in 1788 from William Johnson (ACDB 9:451). Although many details regarding her ancestry remain uncertain, documentary sources indicate that Amy Farrow was a freeborn woman of color. When precisely she arrived in the area is not known, however, various lines of evidence indicate that she was resident in Albemarle County, perhaps as much as ten years prior to her purchase of property in 1788. Among Amy Farrow’s offspring was Thomas Farrow, Jr., child of her marriage with Thomas Farrow, Sr. (died 1778; ACWB 2:365), as well as at least four children, presumably from an earlier union, with the surname Bowles (Lucy, Zachariah, Martha, Susy/Susannah). From her initial inclusion in 1782 or 1783, Amy Farrow was listed consistently in Albemarle County’s personal property tax records until 1797, the year of her death. In addition to her livestock, Amy Farrow typically was taxed on one and sometimes two (1790, 1794) free males over 16 years of age. In her will, dated October 21, 1797, Amy Farrow bequeathed her 224-acre property “…to my two sons Zacariah Bowls and Thomas Farrow [Jr.] to be equally divided between them giving Zacariah Bowls the first choice and Thomas Farrer the remainder” (ACDB 4:14). Road orders for clearing and maintenance of an early precursor to present-day Rio Road suggest strongly that between 1795 and 1809 a number of Farrow’s children and in-laws were resident on or near the property (Thompson 2005 citing Pawlett 1975).
By 1835, distribution and sale of the property over subsequent generations resulted in the reduction of Farrow’s original acreage to approximately 90 acres owned by Zachariah Bowles. His wife, Critta Hemings Bowles (1769-1850), was the daughter of Jefferson’s slave Betty Hemings and sister of Sally Hemings. She lived at Monticello from about 1775 until 1827.
For some period of time, Critta Hemings was an enslaved nursemaid to Thomas Jefferson’s grandchildren in Chesterfield County (Stanton 2000). One of those grandchildren, Frances Wayles Epps, purchased her freedom of $50 in 1827. After her emancipation, she joined Zachariah at the Bowles property. A surveyor’s plat of Samuel Carr’s Dunlora estate prepared in 1844 clearly depicts a 93.5-acre “Bolls’ Lot” within the center of Carr’s 1056.25-acre property. When Critta died in 1850 (ADWB 20:144), Zachariah’s estate passed fully to his nephews Stephen and Peter Bowles.
Documents recording the division of William S. Dabney’s estate, owner of Dunlora estate in the 1850s, and the subsequent sale of small parcels by his heirs through the 1870s and 1880s contain the earliest known uses of the name Free State. By the turn of the century, this toponym seems to have come into common usage. There can be no doubt, however, that the post-bellum and early-20th-century community of Free State had its origins in the nearly 100-acre African-American freehold called Bowles’ Lot in an 1844 survey (Figure 2) and wholly encircled by the lands of the Carr/Dabney Dunlora estate. Between 1870 and 1920, the Free State community expanded both demographically and geographically and clearly was one of the focal points in Albemarle County for the late 19th-early and 20th-century rise in African-American ownership of typically small parcels of rural land. The configuration of the increasingly fragmented holdings within the Free State community and its expansion to the west and north at the end of the 19th century is illustrated in Figure 3. A total of 13 African-American households comprised of a total of 56 individuals can be identified in the Free State area in the 1910 census, indicating a roughly 50% decline in the size of the community since 1900. The process of outmigration of African-American families and their gradual replacement with white households continued through the middle of the 20th century.
Excavation history, methods, and procedures
1988 John Milner and Associates
Site 44AB374 first was identified in 1988 during a Phase I archaeological survey carried out by John Milner and Associates (JMA) for the Virginia Department of Transportation (Stevens and Siefert 1990; Thompson 2005). The site appears to have been identified primarily on the basis of standing architectural remains – in particular, a two-story frame dwelling recorded as 002-171 – in addition to extensive surface artifacts, various landscape modifications, and oral testimony of the apparently recent demolition of a log cabin within the yard area of the extant standing structure. Artifact and contextual data from these excavations is not currently available.
2001, 2003 William and Mary Center for Archaeological Research
In 2001, the William and Mary Center for Archaeological Research (WMCAR) conducted Phase I archaeological survey over an area of 2.6 acres approximately 300 ft southeast of the eastern end of Free State Road that was slated for residential development. This fieldwork identified two archaeological sites (44AB479, 44AB480) with late-19th- and 20th-century components (Higgins and Lewes 2001). The WMCAR Phase I study determined that 44AB479 was potentially eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places because of its probable association with the Free State African-American community. In late 2003, Site 44AB374 was revisited and briefly investigated by WMCAR during a reconnaissance-level cultural resources survey. Neither intensive surface reconnaissance nor the opportunistically placed shovel tests excavated in this southeastern half of the site revealed any indication of a cemetery, and only a single piece of prehistoric lithic (quartz) debitage and a fragment of 20th-century ceramic were encountered.
2005 – 2007 Rivanna Archaeological Services
In January and February 2005, Rivanna Archaeological Services carried out a Phase I archaeological survey of a 30-acre study area (Figure 4), an initial step towards fulfillment of a historic resources management plan for the Belvedere development tract in negotiation with the Albemarle County Planning Department.
This Phase I survey entailed systematic shovel testing at 40-ft intervals across the 30-acre study area as well as systematic metal detector survey where feasible. Previously recorded and newly identified sites were subjected to shovel testing at 20-ft intervals across their entire areas. Although no clear evidence of a cemetery in or near Site 44AB374 was discovered during fieldwork, informant interviews and analysis of historic aerial photographs identified two potential locations for further field testing. The 113 shovel tests excavated across Site 44AB374 during the Phase I survey yielded more than 470 artifacts, most dating broadly to the 19th and/or 20th centuries. Because of their potential association with the earliest stages of free African-American ownership and occupation of the property and the extreme rarity of such sites, both 44AB374 and neighboring 44AB518 were recommended for Phase II testing and significance evaluation. Following this testing, machine-assisted clearing of surface soils revealed evidence of at least 53 systematically-spaced grave shafts within a ca. 50-ft x 60-ft area located in the eastern part of Site 44AB374 (Thompson 2006a).
In 2006, Rivanna Archaeology conducted Phase II testing of the residential component of Site 44AB374 (Thompson 2006b; Figure 5). The results of Phase II testing at both 44AB374 and 44AB518 (the only Phase I sites yielding late 18th-early 19th century artifacts) lead to the consolidation of 44AB374, 44AB518 and the cemetery within a single, multi-component site containing at least three house sites, likely associated with different generations of Bowles, and the cemetery. Occupation of this large, multi-component site (known under a single site number 44AB374) stretched from the late-18th century through the late-20th century, although the site passed out of the Bowles family in the early 20th.
Phase II testing relied upon the manual excavation of 2.5 ft x 2.5 ft units spaced at 20-ft intervals across the areas of both sites. Phase II testing relied upon the manual excavation of 2.5 ft x 2.5 ft units spaced at 20-ft intervals across the areas of both sites. The Bowles cemetery was discovered during the initial stage of Phase II fieldwork. At 44AB374, Phase II testing also entailed the manual clearing of dense vegetation from around the cabin’s chimney base and of thin surface soils covering the building’s extant stone underpinning. Two larger, opportunistically placed test units were also excavated against the western (outside) base of the chimney and spanning the foundations of the cabin’s southeastern corner in an effort to recover material potentially indicative of a construction date.
In 2007, Rivanna Archaeology conducted Phase III testing of the potential earliest residential component of the site. Following the clearing of this area, the site grid used during Phase II testing was reestablished and a series of 22 systematically spaced, 5 ft x 5 ft excavation units were laid out at 20-ft intervals. An additional 18 opportunistically placed 5 ft x 5 ft units and one 2.5 ft x 7.5 ft unit were also excavated. To more conclusively define the northern extent of the earliest occupation and to evaluate its spatial relationship to the ca. 1830-1965 residential locus north of the cemetery, fifteen 2.5 ft x 2.5 ft units placed at 20-ft intervals were excavated to the north and northeast. Surface soils were mechanically removed under archaeological supervision by an experienced operator using a mini-excavator with a 2-ft-wide smooth bucket on a pivoting arm. Following mechanical stripping, the exposed clay subsoil was manually cleaned with shovel and trowel and carefully examined for the presence of subsurface cultural features.
Note: Only the artifacts and contexts excavated by Rivanna Archaeological Services are available on daacs.org.
Research and analysis
Rivanna Archaeological Services identified three distinct residential components at Bowles’ Lot. Component 1 consisted of a clearly defined concentration of late-18th and early-19th century material culture surrounding a large cairn of fieldstones (Figure 6). The presence of mid- to later-19th-century artifacts from within the Component 1 artifact concentration at 44AB0518 suggested that occupation of this location probably continued for some time after a second residential locus was established approximately 180 ft upslope at or near the site of the now demolished one-room cabin within 44AB374. The second site component was associated with the cabin foundation and dates between the mid-19th and mid-20th centuries.
The third component recorded at 44AB374 during Phase II testing consisted of a concentration of later-19th- and 20th-century artifacts in the northernmost portion of the site that appeared to be either sheet midden, intentional dumping, or an outbuilding or activity area associated with the later domestic occupation to the north. Documentary research strongly suggests that the three occupational loci defined within Site 44AB374 may be broadly indicative of generational changes in the ownership and occupation of the property.
Phase III testing confirmed the impression gained from early 20th-century aerial photography that the Component 1 area had been plowed subsequent to its occupation. In-filled erosional gullies cutting into clay subsoil and dating to either the period of occupation or subsequent plowing were also documented within Component 1. Despite an abundance of late-18th to early-19th century material culture recovered from overlying plow zone soils, excavation identified very few architectural or other subsurface features clearly associated with the earliest occupation of the site. One subfloor storage pit (Feature 003) was identified and is the primary physical indication of the house that once stood within Component 1 (Figure 7). Plowing, which appears to have begun across Component 1 perhaps as early as the 1870s likely completely removed all evidence of the relatively surficial construction of the Component 1 house. The orientation of Feature 003 fairly closely corresponds to the orientations of other, mostly later architectural and landscape features documented across the larger site.
The much smaller rectangular pit feature (Feature 017) located just east of the concrete drive near the northeastern limits of this artifact concentration possibly marks the location of another Component 1 structure, perhaps an outbuilding or shed, that served to define the eastern and northern sides of this yard area.
Overall, Phase III data along with the results of earlier phases of fieldwork carried out over the larger site and associated documentary research provide an important contribution to the understanding of a small, often overlooked segment of the 18th and early 19th century population of Virginia. Wholly surrounded by a locally-prominent plantation, Dunlora, the boundaries of the Bowles’ Lot site define not only the physical space, but also symbolically the conceptual place occupied by free persons of color in the slave-owning South.
Stephen M. Thompson, with contributions from Lynsey A. Bates
Rivanna Archaeological Services, LLC and The Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery
Things you need to know about the site before you use the data:
- In the DAACS database, Bowles’ Lot (44AB374) is designated as Project “1026”. Artifact ID numbers for artifacts associated with the site therefore begin with the 1026 prefix.
- Measurements are in feet and tenths of feet.
- Excavated contexts followed natural stratigraphy. All contexts were screened through ¼ inch mesh.
- The archaeological data associated with the Free State site on daacs.org stems from excavations conducted by Rivanna Archaeological Services, LLC.
- Phase I archaeological survey occurred in 2005. This work included excavation of shovel test pits (STPs) at 40-ft intervals across a study area of approximately 30 acres, with close-interval shovel testing at 10-ft and 20-ft intervals. STPs are numbered sequentially with four digits (e.g., 0059 or 2024).
- Phase II testing concentrated on two sites (44AB0374 and 44AB0518) with 2.5-x-2.5 ft units or quadrats uniformly spaced at 20-ft intervals across both sites. This investigation resulted in evidence that these sites should be considered parts of the same site, 44AB0374. Context identifications of the quadrats use coordinates followed by a period and a numerical level designation. For example, excavation of Level 1 in a unit with southwest corner of N500 and E500 has the context ID of N500E500.1.
- Phase III excavations consisted of 2.5-x-2.5 ft and 5-x-5 ft units across the site. After unit excavation, broad area exposure by machine was performed across a total area of approximately 8,500 sq. ft.
- Please see the Features page for notes on feature numbers assigned by DAACS.
The original excavators of Bowles’ Lot (44AB374) assigned numbers to individual features. Eight feature numbers from Bowles’ Lot Phase II were changed to avoid overlap with a second set of features from this site identified during Phase III excavations. Since both sets of feature numbers began with the number 1, and since all phases of excavation are included under DAACS Project number 1026, one set needed to be renumbered. We chose to renumber the shorter list; thus the Phase II feature numbers begin where the Phase III numbers ended.
During the excavation of Phase III Feature 17, excavators expanded the unit to 5′ x 5′ with the original 2.5′ x 2.5′ unit comprising the SW quadrant to better define the feature. They then excavated the feature first in the western half and then the eastern half. At time of excavation, artifacts were bagged separately such that there were three separate bags: Feature 17; Feature 17 West half (excluding the 2.5’ x 2.5’ portion previously excavated); and Feature 17 East half. Two contexts have been created for this feature, F017E.1 and F017W.1. Thus the artifacts of “Feature 17” and “Feature 17 West half” have been combined into context F017W.1.
|003||Pit, sublfloor||F003.1, F003W.1, F003W.2, F003.1|
|017||Pit, subfloor||F017E.1, 017W.1|
|045||Unidentified||N155E188, N160E193, F045.1, N160E188, N150E188|
|047||Pit, trash||TRENCH1S.1, TRENCH1S.2, F047.1|
DAACS has developed a uniform set of methods to infer intra-site chronologies for all of the sites included in the archive. These methods, which include frequency-seriation and correspondence analysis, were developed by DAACS (see Neiman, Galle, and Wheeler 2003 for technical details). The use of common methods for all sites in the archive is designed to increase comparability among temporal phases at different sites. The methods and the phase assignments they produced are summarized below. Archive users may also use the Mean Ceramic Date queries provided on the Query the Database section of this website to calculate MCDs for individual contexts or features.
DAACS Seriation Method
As with other sites in the Archive, the seriation chronology for Bowles’ Lot was derived from ceramic assemblages of stratigraphic groups, feature contexts, and individual stratigraphic layers not assigned to a stratigraphic group.
Ceramic data comes from shovel test pits and unit contexts from Phase I, II, and III survey.
To reduce the noise introduced by sampling error, only ceramic assemblages with more than five sherds were included. The seriation chronology presented here is the result of a correspondence analysis (CA) of ware-type frequencies from contexts that meet these requirements (Figures 1 and 2).
Bowles’ Lot Site Phases
DAACS Phases are groups of assemblages that have similar correspondence-analysis scores, similar MCDs, or both, and are therefore inferred to be broadly contemporary. Phases have a P-prefix that precedes the phase number (e.g., P01 equals Phase 1). The CA results suggest that Dimension 1 represents time from left (early) to right (late). Based on the dips in ceramic counts observed in a histogram of Dimension 1 scores, where the vertical axis measures ceramic assemblage size, we divided the Bowles’ Lot Site into three occupational phases (Figure 3). The three phases are depicted in Figures 4 and 5.
Mean ceramic dates for the site-specific phases are given in the table below. Individual phase MCDs and BLUE MCDs, which give less influence to ceramic types with long manufacturing spans, indicate that Bowles’ Lot was occupied during the second quarter of the nineteennth century into the twentieth century. The table also provides three TPQ estimates. The first TPQ estimate is the usual one – the maximum beginning manufacturing date among all the ware-types in the assemblage. Two other TPQ measures included in the table below are less sensitive to excavation errors and taphonomic processes that might introduce a small amount of anomalously late material into an assemblage. They are TPQp90 and TPQp95. The TPQp95 values for each phase provide a robust estimate of the site’s TPQ based on the 95th percentile of the beginning manufacturing dates for all the artifacts comprising it. The TPQp90 value for each phase provides a more robust estimate of the site’s TPQ based on the 90th percentile of the beginning manufacturing dates for all the artifacts comprising it.
About the Correspondence Analysis
Incorporating data from the DAACS database, we perform the correspondence analysis through the R programming language (R Core Team 2014) to conduct the CA analysis. The CA code was written by Fraser D. Neiman. The following packages generate the data tables, CA, and plots within this code: RPostgreSQL (Conway et al. 2013), plyr (Wickham 2014), reshape2 (Wickham 2014), seriation (Hahsler et al. 2014), ca (Greenacre, Nenadic, and Friendly 2014), and ggplot2 (Wickham 2015).
All of the R code used in this analysis was written within the domain of the R Core Team at the R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria (2014). The correspondence analysis for Free State was conducted by Lynsey Bates.
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, while lines connecting them 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). Five stratigraphic groups were assigned at Bowles’ Lot (44AB374): SG01, topsoil; SG02, plowzone; SG03, a buried-A horizon identified in two units, N095E120 and Trench1.; SG04, likely 20th-century road fill; and SG05, transitional subsoil. The remaining contexts are identified by their individual feature number (e.g., 001) or context number (e.g., N180E060.2).
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). 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 Bowles’ Lot Chronology for stratigraphic and phase information. Please note that some of the contexts present in the chronology analysis are not visualized on the Harris Matrix. The contexts that are not included do not have any stratigraphic relationships with other contexts. The lack of relationships can occur for a few reasons but two common examples are 1) the artifacts are from a surface collection, which is entered into DAACS as a context but does not have recorded relationships to other contexts that are below it; 2) in cases where topsoil and plowzone are stripped and discarded, there may be features below the plowzone that are comprised of a single context. Since the plowzone does not exist as a documented context with artifacts, it cannot seal the single-context feature. DAACS also does not record subsoil as a context, so there is nothing for that single context feature to intrude or seal.
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 [PDF].
Albemarle County Planning Commission,
2001 Minutes, Albemarle County Planning Commission, January 30, 2001
Multiple Deed Books Office of the Clerk, Albemarle County Court House, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Multiple Will Books Office of the Clerk, Albemarle County Court House, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Higgins, Thomas F., and David W. Lewes
2001 Archaeological Survey of a Proposed Development Tract Near Free State Road, Albemarle County, Virginia. Report submitted to Stonehaus Inc. by William and Mary Center for Archaeological Research.
Pawlett, Nathaniel Mason
1975 Albemarle County Road Orders 1783-1816 Virginia Highway & Transportation Research Council, Charlottesville, Virginia. Online publication: http://www.virginiadot.org/vtrc/main/online_reports/pdf/76-r27.pdf
2001 Dunlora Archaeological Survey, Preservation Piedmont Newsletter Page 4.
Stevens, J. Sanderson, and Donna J. Seifert
1990 Phase I Archaeological Investigations of the U.S. Route 29 Corridor Study, Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia. Report submitted to Sverdrup Corporation and The Virginia Department of Transportation by John Milner Associates.
Thompson, Stephen M.
2006b Phase II Archaeological Evaluations of Site 44AB374 and Site 44AB518, Belvedere Station Development Tract, Albemarle County, Virginia. Report submitted to Stonehaus, Inc. by Rivanna Archaeological Services.
Thompson, Stephen M.
2010 The Archaeology of Bowles’ Lot: Phase III Data Recovery Excavations at 44AB374, A Late 18th-19th Century Free African-American Rural Domestic Site in Albemarle County, Virginia. Report submitted to Stonehaus, Inc. by Rivanna Archaeological Services.
Thompson, Stephen M.
2005 A Phase I Archaeological Survey at Free State: An Historical African-American Rural Community in Albemarle County, Virginia. Report submitted to Stonehaus Development, Charlottesville, VA by Rivanna Archaeological Services, Charlottesville, VA.
Thompson, Stephen M.
2006a Archaeological Identification of Cemetery Boundaries at the Bowles Family Cemetery within Site 44AB374, Tax Map Parcel 61-16, (Free State Road), Albemarle County, Virginia. Report submitted to Stonehaus, Inc. by Rivanna Archaeological Services.
Underwood, John R., David W. Lewes , and Courtney J. Birkett
2004 A Cultural Resources Reconnaissance Survey of the Proposed Belvedere Development Project, Albemarle County, Virginia. William and Mary Center for Archaeological Research, Williamsburg, Virginia. Report submitted to Stonehaus Development, Charlottesville, Virginia.