Today, archaeologists from the Maryland State Highway Administration and University of Maryland students returned to the Market Master’s House. Over the next two weeks we will be excavating south of the house and in the backyard in an attempt to find the remains of out buildings and refuse deposits. Our work is especially important this year since we are trying to understand how the area behind the house was used by the occupants. Last year we encountered post molds that suggested buildings may lie behind us to the south. Old maps and historic descriptions revealed nothing about how this area was developed and that is why archaeology is so important.
After excavating almost 20 shovel test pits, we opened up three five foot by five foot units and just made it through the first stratum. After finding a plastic dinosaur, we soon came down upon 19th and some colonial artifacts. There is nothing too out of the ordinary yet, but we hope to connect the post molds from last year to see if we can recognize a structure.
After our excavation last year, we hit the old records to learn what the Market Master’s house was really used for and who lived here. What we learned is that there is no documentation for the building being lived in by a “market master”. Instead, the building appears to have been Christopher Lowndes’ store and one of the first mail stops in the country. It is possible people lived above the store, but based on the probate inventory the store was packed with a long list of items that would have made for camped quarters. By the late 1850s, Dr. Anderson bought the lot with Lowndes’ old store and he lived with his wife in a separate residence to the southeast on the same lot. We are not sure if the old store was used as a doctor’s office or rented out. The 1860 slave census does show Thomas Anderson owning a 51 year old female and 12 year old male slave. Did they use the Market Master’s House as a slave quarter? We may never know for sure, but is something to keep in mind as we examine the mid 19th century artifact assemblage.