|Location:||Monticello, Charlottesville, VA, United States|
|Occupation Dates:||Last quarter 18th/first quarter 19th century. Phasing and mean ceramic dates can be found on the Chronology page.|
|Excavator(s):||William Kelso and Douglas Sanford.|
Building r was one of three, one-room log cabins (Buildings r, s, and t) built in the mid-1790s along the eastern extension of Monticello’s Mulberry Row. Kelso’s excavation in 1983 discovered that, with the exception of artifacts deposited on the southern, downslope portion of the site, most of the 1558 square foot area of the Building r site had been profoundly disturbed by two episodes of 20th-century road work. Consequently, inferences about the appearance of the structure depend on Jefferson’s 1796 plat and the more intact features of the adjacent Building s site. Of particular significance for the history of African-Americans living at Monticello is the documentary link between Building r and known individuals: Critta Hemings, her brother John Hemings, and his wife Priscilla.
The Kelso excavation of the Building r site also uncovered four brick piers (F02-04), remains of a post-Jefferson, Levy family era (1834-1923) structure. Two of the six supports of the 12′ X 20′ structure fall within the contiguous Building s site (F22-23). Analysis of the related assemblages has not been undertaken, but a c.1912 photograph from the Jefferson Library archives provides a glimpse of a wooden building in this location with a narrow brick stack.
In September of 1792, Jefferson wrote to his overseer from Washington:
Five log houses are to be built at the places I have marked out, of chesnut logs, hewed on two sides and split with the saw, and dove tailed…They are to be covered and lofted with slabs…Racks and mangers in three of them for stables (Boyd 1950, vol. 24:412-414).
The following spring, Jefferson instructed his son-in-law and steward, Thomas Mann Randolph (Boyd 1950, vol. 26:65), to move enslaved house servants out of the stone Workmen’s House (now known as the Weaver’s Cottage) into the new log houses. He specified that Critta Hemings (sister to Sally Hemings) should have the “one nearest the house,” that is, the one later designated as Building r. Randolph wrote back in August (Boyd 1950, vol. 26:667) to report that construction had not yet begun but would be accomplished after harvest.
Three cabins for slaves, rather than two, were finally built as indicated by Jefferson’s description on his Mutual Assurance Declaration in 1796:
From q. it is 75. feet to r. which as well as s. and t. are servants houses of wood with wooden chimnies, & earth floors, 12. by 14. feet, each and 27. feet apart from one another. From t. it is 85 feet to F. the [three-part wooden] stable.
By 1808, with the completion of Monticello’s south dependencies, some house servants, i.e., the cook Peter Hemings and probably his sisters, Sally and Critta, moved with their families into the three heated quarters of the new wing, next to the new kitchen, smokehouse, and dairy (Stanton 2000:113).
Archaeological evidence indicates that Building r continued to be used until Monticello was sold in 1831. Documents suggest that by the 1820s—and possibly as early as 1809—John Hemings, skilled joiner and carpenter, probably occupied this small cabin with his wife Priscilla Hemings, nurse to Jefferson’s grandchildren (Hill 2002a and b). Surviving letters identify some of the objects in the Hemings’ cabin: a piece of case furniture; a bedstead; part of the harness for a draft animal; a packet of seeds; a prayer book; a looking glass; and mourning paraphernalia at the time of Priscilla’s death—a black cravat, a crepe hat band, and a lock of Priscilla’s hair.
Excavation history, procedure, and methods
The first archaeological probe into the area of Building r was a test trench (ER 521) opened in 1982 to assess the survival of Jefferson-period sites in the area of a WPA-era parking lot at the eastern end of Mulberry Row. Kelso determined the placement of the test trench by measuring from the extant Workmen’s House (Building e or Weaver’s Cottage) using distances specified in the 1796 Mutual Assurance plat. The following year he removed the entire paving by mechanical means, along with rubble from an underlying 1925 parking lot and a layer of furnace by-products. Kelso gridded off the exposed area in 10’ X 10’ units leaving 2’ balks. Excavation initially proceeded in 8’ X 8’ units, using a method of careful troweling; removal of the balks resulted in quadrats of 8’ X 8’ and 2’ X 2’.
The 1983 archaeological work revealed that much of the original living surface of Building r had been removed by the early 20th-century construction, including the cabin’s floor, foundation, and possible sub-floor pit. However, some related artifacts seemed to have escaped the steam shovels, primarily those deposited on the sloping southern portion of the site. Intruding into the destroyed 18th-century living surface, the bases of a number of postholes and molds also survived. Several episodes of fencing were represented by these features, including the 1809 paling surrounding Jefferson’s second vegetable garden (F16-19), a 20th-century fence line associated with the parking lot (F11-15), and a fence line (F06-10, F20-23, and possibly others) enclosing the yard of a post-Jefferson, 19th-century building set on brick piers. Recovery of evidence of Building r had been anticipated by excavators. The appearance of the remains of this additional building on the site was a surprise. Six brick piers, straddling the sites of Building r (F02-05) and s (Building s site: F22-23), mark the remains of a 12’ X 20’ structure. A search of the archives recovered a photograph of the structure dating to the period of ownership of Monticello by the Levy family. Its location and narrow brick chimney suggest a domestic function, but analysis of the artifact assemblage has not yet been undertaken.
Summary of research and analysis
Interpretation of the appearance of Building r has been inferred from the better preserved site of Building s and from documents that link construction of the two buildings. Until recently, the degree of disturbance of the Building r site has daunted attempts to use recovered artifacts for any other purpose than determining probable dates of construction and destruction. Preliminary analysis using DAACS data suggest that, despite the profound disturbance of much of the site, the assemblage can be used to make inferences about the behavior of the residents of Building r. Data on the artifacts associated with the 19th-century pier building are included in the DAACS database but have not been studied yet.
Using Jefferson’s Mutual Assurance plat, Kelso determined that Buildings r, s, and t were similar in appearance. He summarized his conclusions in an isometric drawing (1997:60, fig. 21). Combining observations about the exposed features of the Building s site (F01-03) in combination with surviving Jefferson documents, he determined that Building r had been a 12’ X 14’ one-room log cabin with an earthen floor and wattle-and-daub exterior end chimney. He based the date and manner of construction of all three structures on the 1792 letter from Jefferson to Clarkson cited above. However, later documents attest that these buildings were not constructed until at least two years later. Evidence from the Building s site shows that the method may have varied from Jefferson’s wishes, at least in the selection of species of timber; the archaeologically recovered fragment of wooden sill from Building s is Southern yellow pine, rather than chestnut as originally specified by Jefferson.
Sanford (in Kelso et al. 1985:181, 196-199; 1995:18-23) tentatively dated the Building r site to 1793-1809. He based the construction date on Jefferson documents and the destruction date on the proximity of the 1809 fence line. He argued that the placement of the postholes (F16-19) precluded the persistence of the dwelling after the garden was leveled and fenced in 1808-1809. However, the fence stood in the same relationship to Building s, which, based on associated ceramics, he believed to be occupied until Jefferson’s death.
Gruber (in Kelso et al. 1985; 1990; 1991) used archaeological evidence from Buildings r, s, and t collectively to address the issue of how much influence slaves exercised in the shaping of their domestic environments. She concluded that Jefferson controlled the size, placement, and form of the cabins in which slaves lived. Residents of Mulberry Row benefited from living in proximity to Jefferson’s mansion in that they received leftovers and cast-offs of better quality than that provided for field workers.
Preliminary DAACS analysis of the artifacts recovered from the sloping southern portion of the Building r site suggests that Building r was occupied from the documented c.1794 date until the sale of Monticello in 1831. The assemblage also offers the potential to discern important insights into the behavior of the enslaved people who lived there. In contrast to the barracks-style housing provided for enslaved people on Mulberry Row in the 1770s, e.g., phase I of the Building o site and the Negro Quarter at the Building t site, Jefferson intended the quarters he constructed in the 1790s, i.e., Buildings r, s, and t, to house a single family each. This represents an important shift in the conditions of some enslaved people that occurred as a consequence of political and agricultural changes after the American Revolution (Neiman 1997a; 1998). The quality and quantity of ceramics present at Building r also attest to the ability and interest of some slaves to negotiate improvements in their conditions and to participate in the emerging consumer culture (Arendt 2003; Galle and Neiman 2003; Neiman et al. 2003; Olson 2003).
Thomas Jefferson Foundation
Things you need to know about Building r before you use the data:
- The entire site was carefully hand-troweled and screens were not used for artifact recovery.
- Measurements are in feet and tenths of feet.
- Building r was excavated using the “Wheeler Box” excavation system of 8-by-8 foot quadrats with 2-foot balks. Unit size varies from 8-by-8 foot and 2-by-2 foot quadrats to 2-by-8 foot quadrats.
- The Building r site was severely impacted by the construction of parking lots near the site in 1925 and 1934, which removed the upper 18″ to 24″ of the site. A 20th-century fence line, associated with the parking lot, also intruded into the documented building location. The site was further disturbed by the mid-nineteenth-century “pier building” immediately to the southeast.
- The only remaining structural evidence of Building r is a concentration of large stones that may be the remains of either its foundation or chimney base.
- Several contexts were not cataloged as they were significantly disturbed and contained predominately 20th-century artifacts. These uncataloged contexts are: 735TPS, 735A, 736TPS, 736A, 736B, 737TPS, 737A, 737B, 743TPS, 743A, 743B, 743C, 743D, 743E, 744TPS, 744A, 744B, 744C, 744D, 744E, 745TPS, 745B, 745C, 745D, 745E, 746TPS, 746A, 746B, 746C, 746D, 746E, 746F, 752TPS, 752A, 753A, 754TPS, 754A, 754B, 755TPS, 755A, 755B, 777A, 778A, 779TPS, 779A, 780TPS, 780A, 780B, 784TPS, 784A, 784B, 785TPS, 785A, 785B, 785C, 786TPS, 786A, 787TPS, 787A, 787C, 787D, 788TPS, 788A, 789TPS, 789A, 789B, 789C, 789D, 790TPS, 790A, 791TPS, 791A, 792TPS, 792A, 793TPS, 793A, 794TPS, 794A, 795TPS, 795A, 796TPS, and 796A.
The original excavators of the Building r site did not assign numbers to individual features. DAACS staff has assigned feature numbers using the original excavation records. Feature Numbers assigned by DAACS have a F-prefix, which precedes the number (i.e. F01 equals Feature 1).
Excavated contexts that belong to the same depositional basin (e.g. a posthole and postmold or the layers in a single pit) have been assigned a single feature number. In addition, single contexts have been given feature numbers when the original field records indicate that the excavators recognized a context’s spatial distinctiveness from surrounding contexts.
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).
|F01||Chimney Base||746M, 755E|
|F02||Pier, brick||745K, 745AF|
|F03||Pier, brick||746G, 746L, 746AE|
|F04||Pier, brick||754D, 754AD|
|F05||Pier, brick||755C, 755D, 755AF|
|F34||Tree hole||736C, 737C|
Building r Chronology
DAACS has developed an uniform set of methods to infer intra-site chronologies for the sites included in the Archive. Using them, we have assigned most excavated contexts at each site to a set of site-specific phases. The use of common methods is designed to increase comparability among phases at different sites. The methods and the phase assignments they produced are summarized below. For some sites, the original excavators developed intra-site chronologies and where these exist, they are included on the Background page for the site. DAACS encourages users of Archive data to help explore improvements.
DAACS Seriation Method
This page summarizes a frequency-seriation based chronology for the Building r site that was developed by DAACS (see Neiman, Galle, and Wheeler 2003 for technical details). DAACS seriated ceramic assemblages, with more than five sherds, from individual excavated contexts and from stratigraphic groups — groups of contexts that field records indicate were part of a single stratigraphic layer or deposit. DAACS assigned such contexts to the same stratigraphic group. Stratigraphic groups have a SG-prefix, which precedes the group number (e.g. SG01 equals Stratigraphic Group 1). For example, at the Building r site, two portions of a single layer, described by the excavators as ‘heavy charcoal and ash”, spanned two adjacent quadrats (745 and 787). The layer segments were excavated as 745A and 787B. DAACS assigned these contexts to a single stratigraphic group (SG08). Not all contexts have stratigraphic group assignments.
DAACS chose to base the seriation chronology for the Building r site on ceramic assemblages aggregated at the level of contexts and stratigraphic groups, and not at the level of features. This is because most contexts and stratigraphic groups on the site were not parts of features. In the few cases where stratigraphic groups and contexts were parts of features, the relevant feature numbers and descriptions are included in the seriation chronology table below.
DAACS computed the frequency of mean-ceramic-date (MCD) types in stratigraphic groups and in individual contexts when those contexts had no stratigraphic group assignment. The seriation chronology is derived from a correspondence analysis of these MCD-type frequencies. Seriated assemblages were assigned to phases. Phases are groups of assemblages that have similar correspondence-analysis scores and are therefore inferred to be broadly contemporary. Phases assigned by DAACS have a P-prefix that precedes the phase number (e.g. P01 equals Phase 1).
The stratigraphic relationships among stratigraphic groups and unassigned contexts are summarized in the Harris Matrix for the site. Phase assignments from the seriation are shown on the Harris Matrix in color, facilitating comparison of the seriation chronology and the stratigraphic chronology of the site.
Building r Site Phases
Based on the correspondence analysis, DAACS divided the Building r site occupation into four phases. Mean ceramic dates for the four phases are given in the table below. The table also included two estimates of the ceramic TPQ for each phase. The first TPQ estimate is the usual one – the maximum beginning manufacturing date among all the MCD types in the assemblage. The second estimate — TPQp90 — is the 90th percentile of the beginning manufacturing dates among all the shreds in the assemblage, based on their MCD types. This second TPQ estimate is more robust against excavation errors and taphonomic processes that might have introduced a few anomalously late sherds into an assemblage.
The phases for the Building r site are among the most massively time averaged on Mulberry Row. This is due to the grading that took place on the site in the 1930’s for construction of a parking lot. Phase 1 is nearly entirely comprised of material from the Jefferson-era occupation of the site, by the inhabitants of Building r, as shown on the 1796 Mutual Assurance Plat. The Phase 2 assemblage has a nearly identical MCD, but its 1840 TPQ indicates it also contains small amounts of post-Jefferson material. A small assemblage from the builder’s trench (F03) for a brick pier of the Brick-Pier Structure (FG01) dates to this phase. So does a small assemblage from a posthole (F18) belonging to a fence line (FG04) just south of the site of Building r. A large feature (F34, SG09), probably a tree disturbance, at the north edge of the site also dates to this phase. Phase 3 contains significantly more post-Jefferson material, as indicated by its 1828 TPQp90 . This phase is largely comprised of two assemblages from stratigraphic groups (SG02, SG05) that the excavators identified as “occupation zones”.
A Seriation Chronology for the Building r Site
The following table presents a seriation chronology for the Building r site. We use the indefinite article to signify that it is not the only chronology possible, nor the best. DAACS encourages users of Archive data to help explore improvements.
Building r 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, 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. SG02) followed by the original excavator’s descriptions of them (e.g. “Occupation zone”). Contexts that could not be assigned to stratigraphic groups are identified by their individual context numbers (e.g. 752D).
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.
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.
See Building r Chronology for stratigraphic and phase information.
For a printable version, download the Harris Matrix [103.63 KB PDF].
PDF of composite excavator’s plan compiled by DAACS from original field drawings.
Arendt, Beatrix , Fraser D. Neiman , and Jillian E. Galle
2003 Model Consumers? Clues to Ceramic Acquisition at Slave Quarter Sites in the Greater Chesapeake. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. On file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
2003 Acquire This: A Study of Ceramic Stylistic Variability at Monticello, Mount Vernon, and Stratford Hall. Unpublished paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology, Providence, Rhode Island. On file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Boyd, Julian , Barbara Oberg , John Cantanzariti , Charles T. Cullen , and Lyman Henry Butterfield
1950-2008 The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. [35 volumes to date]. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.
Galle, Jillian E., and Fraser D. Neiman
2003 Patterns of Tea and Tableware Consumption of Late Eighteenth-Century Slave Quarter Sites. Unpublished paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology, Providence, Rhode Island. On file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
1990 The Archaeology of Mr. Jefferson. Unpublished M.A. thesis, Winterthur Program, University of Delaware, Wilmington, Delaware.
1991 The Archaeology of Slave Life at Thomas Jefferson. In Quarterly Bulletin of the Archeological Society of Virginia 46(1): 2-9.
Harris, Edward C.
1979 Principles of Archaeological Stratigraphy. Academic Press, London, England.
Heath, Barbara J.
2003 A Comparative Analysis of African-American Adornment Practices in the Chesapeake. Unpublished paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology, Providence, Rhode Island. On file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
2002a Summary of Archaeological Excavations by Site. Mulberry Row Project. Unpublished report on file at the Jefferson Library, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville Virginia.
2002b Summary of Archaeological and Documentary Evidence for Excavated and Standing Buildings on Mulberry Row., Mulberry Row Project. Unpublished report on file at the Jefferson Library, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville Virginia.
Kelso, William M., Diana C. Johnson , Ann M. Smart , Anna Gruber , and Douglas W. Sanford
1985 Monticello Black History/Craft Life Archaeological Project, 1984-1985. Progress report. Submitted to the National Endowment for the Humanities. Manuscript on file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Kelso, William M.
1986a The Archaeology of Slave Life at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello: “A Wolf by the Ears.” In t Journal of New World Archaeology 6(4): 5-20.
Kelso, William M.
1997 Archaeology at Monticello: Artifacts of Everyday Life in the Plantation Community. Monticello Monograph Series. Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Neiman, Fraser D., Jillian E. Galle , and Derek Wheeler
2003 Chronological Inference and DAACS. Unpublished paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology, Providence, Rhode Island. On file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Neiman, Fraser D.
1998 Modeling Social Dynamics in Colonial and Antebellum Slave Architecture: Monticello in Historical Perspective. Unpublished paper presented at the Slavery Housing Conference at the International Center for Jefferson Studies, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia. On file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Neiman, Fraser D.
2008 The lost world of Monticello: an evolutionary perspective. Journal of Anthropological Research 64(2):161-193.
Olson, Heather L.
2003 ‘Constantly Employed’: Chronological and Regional Differences in Tool Use at Seven Slave Sites in the Virginia Chesapeake. Unpublished paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology, Providence, Rhode Island. On file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Sanford, Douglas W.
1985 A Report on the Archaeological Excavations of Servant’s Houses “r,” “s,” and “t,” and the Related Landscape., Monticello Black History/Craft Life Archaeological Project, 1984-1985 In Monticello Black History/Craft Life Archaeological Project, 1984-1985. Progress report. Submitted to the National Endowment for the Humanities. Manuscript on file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia. pp. 18-23.
Sanford, Douglas W.
1995 The Archaeology of Plantation Slavery at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello: Context and Process in an American Slave Society. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Shumate, M. Scott
1992 Georgian Worldview: Its Definition, History, and Influence on the Material World of Thomas Jefferson. Unpublished M.A. thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee.