Fall 2010 Meeting agenda—illustrated!

Submitted by Kevin Kiernan (kevin.kiernan@gmail.com)

Historic Preservation of Prehistoric, Colonial and Plantation Structures on the Coast

We are looking forward to welcoming a large crowd of you to the Society for Georgia Archaeology’s Fall Meeting, Friday-Sunday, 15-17 October 2010. The meeting formally begins in the Frederica Room at Sea Palms Resort on Saturday morning (Registration 8-9 am; short orientation talks start at 9 am, before heading out on the tours). [At the end of this article are suggestions for activities if you arrive early enough on Friday the 15th.]

This year’s theme is Historic Preservation of Prehistoric, Colonial and Plantation Structures on the Coast. Instead of the traditional set of formal papers, we are holding a moveable feast of archaeological sites with discussions led and sustained by professional archaeologists and other knowledgeable members of SGA.

Agenda overview

    8–9 a.m. / Registration, coffee and pastries, Frederica Room, Sea Palms Resort
    9–10 a.m. / Introductions and orientation with SGA President-Elect Catherine Long, and State Archaeologist and Head of Historic Preservation David Crass
    10–12 p.m. / Ground Penetrating Radar with Dan Elliott at Hamilton Slave Tabbies, courtesy of Leslie Carlton and Cassina Garden Club
    12–1 p.m. / Lunch on Gascoigne Bluff. Volunteers from the Golden Isles Archaeological Society will welcome you at lunchtime with your box lunches (if you ordered one) and will be distributing water for the tours.
    1–3 p.m. / Prehistoric and Historic Indian Mounds and House Ruins at Evelyn Plantation site, directed tour by Fred Cook and Keith Stephenson with access courtesy of the property owners
    3–5 p.m. / Hand-dug Brunswick-Altamaha Canal and Tabby Sugar Mill Ruins at Elizafield Plantation site, directed tour by Ray Crook with access courtesy of Morningstar Academy
    9–10 a.m. / Reconvene at Fort King George, Darien, with short talk and tour of museum and grounds by Site Manager Steven Smith
    10–11 a.m. / Bill Merriman, president of the Ashantilly Center, will welcome us to the mainland home of Thomas Spalding (1774-1851), who revived tabby-making on the Coast
    11–12 p.m. / The marvelous Thicket, with well-preserved tabby slave cabins, elaborate sugarworks with rum distillery, and prehistoric Indian mounds; directed tour by Fred Cook with access courtesy of the developers and the neighborhood association

Click here for downloadable version of the agenda, perfect for posting. Meeting attendees may pick up dead-tree versions of the agenda, with map, at the Saturday morning orientation.

Details: Saturday, 16 October, site visits

    1. Ground-penetrating radar with Dan Elliott at Hamilton Plantation Slave Tabbies, courtesy of Leslie Carlton and the Cassina Garden Club.

Hamilton Plantation slave cabins—Cassina Garden Club

    2. Carpooling from Gascoigne Bluff to Evelyn in North Glynn County. Prehistoric and historic Indian mounds and plantation house ruins at Evelyn; discussion led by archaeologists Fred Cook and Keith Stephenson.

The grayscale map of the Evelyn Site is a composite of Preston Holder’s 1937 WPA map, showing 5 mounds, a farm house, and a farm road; a 2010 topographical map with GIS markers for Holder’s mounds B, C, and D; and the plat showing how the land was divided into properties in the late 1960s for the modern neighborhood.


Holder’s 1937 map, the 1968 plat, and a 2010 topo map.

As the composite map shows, the surviving Indian mounds are completely integrated into the modern neighborhood.


Keith Stephenson stands on Mound D in the Heritage Estates neighborhood.

    3. After viewing the mounds and the plantation house ruins on and around Choctaw Square, we will leave Evelyn via Choctaw Road to get back to Route 99. Turn right on 99 and take the first right into Morningstar Treatment Center.

The Spanish Mission gateway is from the 1930s, when this area was known as Santo Domingo State Park.

After parking, we will take a wooded path down beside the Brunswick-Altamaha Canal, which was dug by hand all the way from Brunswick harbor to the Altamaha River by slaves and Irish immigrants in the first half of the 19th century.


The Brunswick-Altamaha Canal, looking North from 99.

The impressive, well-preserved, tabby ruins at the end of the path were once thought to be the ruins of the Spanish mission of Santo Domingo de Talaje, but are now believed to be the remains of Hugh Frazer Grant’s sugar mill at Elizafield Plantation.

Elizafield tabby ruins.

Archaeologist Ray Crook will draw connections between these ruins and the comparable ones on Sapelo Island.

[Dinner is on your own, and there are many fine restaurants and casual watering holes where you can enjoy yourselves. Find helpful information online here.]

Details: Sunday morning, 17 October, Site Visits

    1. Meet at Fort King George, Darien, 9-10 a.m.

Site manager Steven Smith will talk about the Fort and the Spanish mission and show us the culturally eclectic artifacts in the museum, and then show us the grounds.


Fort King George.

    2. The Ashantilly Center, 10-11 a.m.

Bill Merriman, President of the Ashantilly Center, will discuss tabby making and show some of Spalding’s original tabby exposed in the stairwells.


The Ashantilly Center

Bill Merriman ignites a lime-burning rick at Ashantilly.

    3.11-12 p.m. / The Thicket, including Carnochan Sugarworks, four tabby slave cabins, and four Indian mounds; archaeologist Fred Cook will lead the way.

The Sugarworks falling into the Creek.

At the Carnochan Sugarworks cane was crushed in the rotary octagonal mill. Mules climbed the ramp up to the top floor of the Mill House. The cane juice was boiled to a concentrated solution in the boiling house. In the curing house the solution cooled and sugar crystals were formed. The crystals were separated from the syrup by filtration. The sugar and part of the syrup were packaged for sale. The excess syrup was sent to the distillery for fermentation and distillation.


Sugarworks diagram extracted by Fred Cook from Georgia’s Disputed Ruins (1937), ed. E. Merton Coulter.

We will also look at the tabby slave settlement at The Thicket.


Slave Settlement at The Thicket.

Realizing the importance of historic preservation of the Thicket, the developers and the neighborhood association have recently fenced off the Carnochan sugarworks and the slave settlement.

Thank you for coming to the Fall 2010 meeting of the Society for Georgia Archaeology.

Optional: Friday, 15 October, activities

Those of you arriving early on Friday are cordially invited to visit the old Hofwyl-Broadfield plantation; Fort Frederica National Monument; and the Harrington Graded School.

    1. Hofwyl-Broadfield has several antebellum buildings as well as structures converted for a dairy farm after the Civil War.

Vista at Hofwyl-Broadfield.

The museum includes clear displays of rice cultivation, and one of the many beautiful trails is an old rice dike leading to an observation deck overlooking the old rice fields.


Old Rice Dike.

Open 9-5. Be sure to say you are an SGA member to get the group rate of $3.50.

    2. Fort Frederica National Monument.

Vista at Fort Frederica.

Jon Burpee, Chief of Interpretation at Fort Frederica National Monument, invites SGA members and friends to visit Frederica, where he can bring you up to date with the latest research on the town and fort. Open 9-5, $3.00 for adults.

    3. The Harrington Graded School.

Harrington Graded School.

Built in the 1920s by African-American tradesmen for their children and grandchildren, the Harrington Graded School is now the focus of urgent historic preservation as a “Place in Peril” in the vanishing history of coastal Georgia.

The Friends of Harrington School, Inc., have invited members of SGA to visit between 5-7 p.m. Friday night. Drive north on Frederica Road, past Sea Palms, and turn right onto Harrington Road at Bennie’s Red Barn. The Harrington School House is a few blocks down on the left. For more information please click here.

Credits: Overlay map of Evelyn by Christopher Thornock; photographs by Kevin Kiernan.

Where to find it