Who we are

The Lost Towns Project is a team of professional archaeologists and historians, working closely with the government of Anne Arundel County, Maryland to discover and explore the County's rich heritage. The team is committed to sharing the discovery process of this incredible heritage with the public through hands-on experiences, publications, lectures, and exhibits. In this blog, we will share some of our exciting discoveries, updates, and events. Check out our website at www.losttownsproject.org for much more, or to learn how to become a volunteer or intern! No experience is required to assist us in field investigations, laboratory studies, archival research, and interpretive programs. Join us to rediscover the History in your own backyards!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Intern Research Reveals Artifact Date

Today's blog comes to us from high school intern Xanthia Strohl.  She researched a knife found at a post-Civil War African American site in Galesville.  Wonderful work!

J. Russell Pearl Handled Knife
Example of J. Russell & Co. Knife in Pristine Condition 
Our knife, found in the Wilson House

Close-up of Stamp
This 1834 pearl handled knife was found in the Wilson House, a historic site structure built in 1871 by Henry Wilson, an emancipated slave (Galesville, Anne Arundel County, MD). This knife is important in the history of J. Russell’s business because this was made the year before J. Russell started making butcher’s knives and had ‘J.Russell & Co American Cutlery’ stamped on them.
In 1834 J. Russell decided that he had enough experience to start manufacturing knives (the same year that is stamped on our knife). Then J. Russell & Co. had a devastating fire on March 15, 1836 in his forging workshop. He was given insurance money to repair the damage. He had a major flood during the repairs that caused his buildings to wash away with his supplies for which his insurance did not completely cover. 

A wealthy man name Henry Clapp, owner of Green River Works, provided $10,000 to rebuild the forge, everything within his forge, rebuild the damn, and the bridge that had been there before. In return, ‘J. Russell & Co.’ became ‘J. Russell & Co. Green River Works’.

By process of elimination, we know that he started making cutlery knives in 1834; our knife has a date of 1834 stamped in with J. Russell & Co. This gives us a date ranging from J. Russell making cutlery knives in 1834, to his business’s name change in 1836 when it became J. Russell & Co. Green River Work’. So, our make date for this knife is between 1834-1836.

I have made an educated guess that because it has the date 1834 stamped on it and his business name changed two years after in 1836 that is probably accurate.