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Civil War artifacts among those unearthed at manor

April 15, 1998|By AMY WALLAUER

by Ric Dugan / staff photographer

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ArtifactsCivil War artifacts among those unearthed at manor

BUNKER HILL, W.Va. - Amateur and professional archaeologists have been gently scraping away years of soil and clay at Edgewood Manor this week, uncovering bone, pottery, nails and buttons - even a Minie ball - dating as far back as the Civil War.

By Wednesday, some of their finds on the historic estate included early 20th-century ceramic pottery and glass, a piece of a clay pipe from the Civil War era, ceramic pottery made in the 1750s, and polychrome glazed pieces from the 1820s to 1840s.

"Since this place wasn't even built until 1838, that means they carried it with them and held onto it for a while," said Lora Lamarre, planning and education coordinator for the State Historic Preservation Office of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.

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Members of the preservation office were in the Eastern Panhandle this week to visit preservation societies and historical groups and answer questions from residents.

For Katie Proudman, a sixth-grader from Keedysville, Md., the highlight of the visit was the dig at Edgewood Manor, which started Tuesday and concludes today.

"I want to be an archaeologist. It would never get boring," Proudman said as she sifted through dirt and scrutinized pottery fragments. "I search in Keedysville, but you can't find much."

Edgewood Manor was built by Gen. Elisha Boyd for his son, John Boyd. It was completed in 1838 with bricks made on-site.

Don C. Wood, chairman of the Berkeley County Landmarks Commission, said Edgewood Manor was Elisha Boyd's largest plantation. It also has quite a bit of history.

During the Civil War, Gen. Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson camped on the lawn and Gen. James Johnston Pettigrew died in one of the bedrooms.

"He was shot on the retreat from Gettysburg, Pa., on the Maryland side of the Potomac River. He was wounded very badly and they were taking him to Winchester, Va.," Wood said of Pettigrew.

Elisha Boyd's grandson, also named John, was captured by Union soldiers in the house.

"He was coming home on leave. One of the slaves - the Boyds were big slave holders - learned that some of the Union soldiers were there and she was able to tell them they were expecting him home," Wood said.

John Boyd was sentenced to death by hanging.

"The family, just within minutes of the noose going around his neck, got his life saved and he was put in prison until the end of the war," Wood said.

This week, small squares of land surrounding what may have been slave quarters on the 2,000-acre estate were cordoned off, dug up and sifted through.

The cabin behind the home has doors at the north and south sides. During that time period, one door was used for an entrance and the other was used to throw out garbage, said field archaeologist Jeff Davis.

The dumping area was where most of the artifacts turned up, Davis said.

Buttons made of bone found near one of the cabin doors may have been worn by slaves, Lamarre said. The pottery fragments may have been used by slaves, given to them by the landowners.

"We've found a really wide variety of stuff here," said Joanna Wilson, an archaeologist with the Division of Culture and History. "We've got all different kinds of ceramics - some are hand-painted, some are machine-made. The occupation at this site was really long-term."

There may even be artifacts surrounding Edgewood Manor dating to the Revolutionary War, Wood said. Elisha Boyd's father-in-law, Maj. Andrew Wagner, had a home there before Boyd, although no one has found the exact site.

At the end of the excavation, the artifacts will be analyzed and returned to the current landowners, Sharon and John Feldt and Birdie Lampkin.

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