This summer archaeologists from the University of Maryland Department of Anthropology returned to Easton, Maryland to continue their research on The Hill neighborhood. This was their sixth summer of excavation on The Hill and they focused on the property of James and Henny Freeman, free African Americans who bought property and established an urban farm in the 1780s as the town was growing. The Freemans are the earliest African-American landowners currently identified in Easton, owning the site two generations before Emancipation. The earliest layers of the site date to this period, while later ones connect with African-American tenants living here since the 1870s.
Excavation was conducted as the main part of the annual archaeological field school under the direction of Mark P. Leone and with daily operations supervised by site directors Tracy Jenkins and Andrew Webster. Students Isaiah Baden-Payne, Christopher Brown, Madeline Laub, Jasmine Mathis, and Rebecca Peters joined them from College Park, as did Samantha Matera from the University of Delaware and Nicholas Clampitt from Anne Arundel Community College. Students worked with volunteers from the community, including consistent help from Monique Cooke and Diane Flagler. Students also gave tours to visitors. During their stay on the Eastern Shore, the field school visited the Talbot County Historical Society, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, the plantations of Wye Hall and Wye House, and conducted a walking survey of African-American gardens in Easton. The program culminated in a public presentation of the findings from the excavation to a packed house of community members. Here, students presented on the site's stratigraphy and chronology and on various artifacts found, including pottery, building materials, children's toys, and other small finds.
This excavation was sponsored by Historic Easton, Inc., and the East End Neighborhood Association. The group is also indebted to Asbury United Methodist Church and Carlene Phoenix for use of the church's parsonage, which served as our headquarters, field lab, and summer classroom.