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Maryland's National Register Properties

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Snow Hill Archeological Site
Inventory No.:
Date Listed: 4/27/1984
Location: Cecil County
Category: Site
Period/Date of Construction: 19th century
The nomination is marked Not for Public Access. Qualified Medusa accountholders should please contact the MHT Librarian for a copy.
Description: The Snow Hill Archeological Site was the location of a free black community, which was established in this area by the mid 1800s. The remains of several structures, a foundation and wall or floorboard, 2 in situ cast iron stoves, and concentrations of refuse were identified. Only the portion of the site located on the Bainbridge Naval Training Center property has been tested. The only remaining standing structure from the community is a two-story, two-family duplex built in the late 19th century, which is located just outside the official site boundaries. Subsurface testing revealed undisturbed soil and the remains of several structures, a retaining wall, many late 19th-early 20th century artifacts, and 2 features. Feature 1 was defined as an in situ deposit of foundation stones associated with a wall or floor board containing machine cut nails. Feature 2 was defined as 2 cast iron stoves found in situ in an articulated pattern just under the ground cover. A third possible feature was identified in one shovel test pit as a dense concentration of late-19th century household refuse. Over 70 oyster shell fragments, a small number of bone fragments, metal, glass, and fine tablewares were found in this unit. Floor planking was found in three test pits. Material collected included wooden planking, 2 cast iron stoves and miscellaneous parts, 231 glass fragments, 132 ceramic sherds, 31 pieces of bone, 83 shell fragments, 152 metal fragments, and approximately 200 nails. Significance: This site possesses significance in the contexts of historical archeology, Black history, and Maryland history, covering a period form 1800 to 1900. The archeological significance of this site centers on the establishment of a Free Black Community spatially within a thriving white trading town prior to the Civil War and that remained intact until the end of the 19th century. Representative samples of Emancipated Black settlements or communities have not been identified and studied in this part of Maryland, or the eastern United States in general. The archeological record of this site can begin to illuminate much of the former lifeways of the Free Blacks in this community during the mid to late 19th century. The nature and distribution of artifactual material recorded in the archeological record in this site can provide invaluable information concerning economic, social, and settlement patterns and changes within and between this Free Black Community and the larger white population comprising Port Deposit during the 19th century. The historical significance of this site to Black History and Maryland History centers on the paucity of information known about Free Black settlement and lifeways in the eastern United States, and Maryland in particular. The site could be investigated to study theories explaining why it was possible for Free Black communities to be established in some areas of Maryland prior to the Civil War and not in other areas; how urban Free Black settlements and lifeways differed from white urban settlements and lifeways in the same towns or part of Maryland; and how well Free Black residents became part of mainstream America during the 19th century both prior to and following the Civil War.


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