Skip to Main Content

Maryland's National Register Properties

No photo
Inventory No.:
Other Name(s): Slave Village Archaeological Site
Date Listed: 1/29/2008
Location: 4801 Urbana Pike, Frederick, Frederick County
Category: Site
Period/Date of Construction: 1794-1827
The nomination is marked Not for Public Access. Qualified Medusa accountholders should please contact the MHT Librarian for a copy.
Description: L’Hermitage Slave Village Archeological Site is located on the 274-acre Best Farm, a component of Monocacy National Battlefield. Situated along MD Route 355 (Urbana Pike), approximately three miles south of Frederick, this site served as the slave village at L’Hermitage, a plantation established by the Vincendière family that operated from 1794 to 1827. Beginning in 2001, Phase I and II archeological investigations were carried out at Best Farm. Through a combination of historic and archeological research and archeological data, the location of the slave village associated with L’Hermitage was determined. Though limited in scope, excavations were successful in determining the site’s integrity and in recovering a preliminary assemblage of artifacts and features associated with the African-American enslaved populations at L’Hermitage. The slave village was most likely constructed at the same time as the other three structures on the property (the main house, a secondary dwelling, and a stone barn), which date to the late 1790s. Phase I investigations of the property consisted of systematic surface collection and metal detection. Eighteen excavation units were opened to explore potential features identified during the systematic metal-detector survey. In 2004, a gradiometric survey of the slave village site was performed, which resulted in the opening of 15 excavation units in order to explore potential features detected by the gradiometric survey. Data in the form of artifacts and several features were recovered through Phase I and Phase II work during the field seasons of 2003 and 2004. A large dense domestic deposit, comprised of architectural materials, personal items, and artifacts associated with food preparation and storage, was uncovered. The deposit is a relatively continuous band extending approximately 400ft north-south and 100 ft east-west, and covering about two-thirds of an acre. The artifacts found during the metal-detector survey included nails and spikes (70% of which were hand-wrought), brick fragments, and hand-wrought hinges and hooks; Personal items consisted mainly of buckles and buttons, along with a small number of datable coins; Kitchen-related items included cast-iron cooking vessel fragments, eating utensils (knives, two-tined forks), and non-metallic artifacts such as redware, whiteware, and pearlware fragments and olive bottle glass. Phase II excavations resulted in the identification of several features interpreted as the remains of wooden dwellings inhabited by the enslaved population of the farm. Based on the artifact assemblage gathered during both field seasons, the date of occupation of the slave village ranged from the 18th to early 19th century. A large number of buttons (n=30) date to this time period. The coins fit into this date range as well: one dates to 1808, another to 1809, and a third to 1811. The dating of glassware and ceramics (creamware, stoneware, pearlware, redware, and whiteware) also generally suggests a mid- to late 18th century to early 19th century time period for the dense deposit uncovered in 2003. Given that the Vincendière family operated L'Hermitage from 1794 to 1827, a late 18th through early 19th century date range supports the interpretation of this deposit as the plantation's slave village. Significance: Beginning in 1794 and 1795, the Vincendières, a French planter family from the colony of Saint-Domingue (Haiti), began acquiring lands that would one day comprise a 748-acre plantation that they called L'Hermitage. Like many French refugees, the Vincendières came to the United States in 1793 to escape civil unrest associated with the French Revolution and with the slave uprisings that began in Saint-Domingue in 1791. Today's Best Farm consists of the southern 274 acres of the original 748-acre L'Hermitage plantation. The Vincendières brought twelve African-American slaves with them from Saint-Domingue - the maximum legal limit. By 1800, the enslaved population of the plantation numbered 90, a large number for the area. It is possible that the family was attempting to recreate the large-scale slave system that was in place in their native Saint-Domingue. L'Hermitage Slave Village Archeological Site is significant for its potential to broaden the understanding of the lives of enslaved populations at late 18th/early 19th century plantations. Enslaved African-American plantations are not well documented in historic records, compared to their white, European masters and managers. Through archeological research, this site can illuminate the lives of enslaved Africans at the Vincendière plantation, and also potentially provide significant comparative information about 18th and 19th century enslaved populations, French-Caribbean refugees, and immigrants in Frederick County, Maryland, the Mid-Atlantic region, and even in the Caribbean. The site allows for the sampling of the material culture used, owned, and/or made by enslaved peoples and for further research and knowledge about the type of housing they lived in, what they ate, how they ate, how they related to their owners and the local community, and what cultural practices they engaged in at the slave village. The limited archeological surveys and excavations conducted in 2003 and 2004 have already provided preliminary answers to some of these research questions. Fortunately, the site's high level of archeological integrity suggests that additional investigations will yield additional data that will provide even more clues about the past at L'Hermitage, adding to the site's significance.


Return to the National Register Search page