|Brad Hatch and Chelsea Coates digging shovel test pits|
Indian Camp began as a 1200-acre plantation in the 1730s. By the 1760s, John Wayles had purchased land south and west of the original property boundaries. By the time he died in 1773, Indian Camp and the adjacent land, which he sometimes called St. James', contained 3600 acres.
How do we find the sites we are looking for on such a large piece of property, with only a few weeks of field work per year? We've started with historic maps that show buildings about where they might have been, have looked at aerial photographs for clues to past land use, have talked to local residents, and, along with these sources of information, are beginning to examine places where people were most likely to settle--near existing roads, near springs where they could get fresh water, and on land that was probably marginal for agricultural purposes in the 1700s, but still level and dry enough to build on.
This week, we started in a large field in the northwest corner of the property, where a 19th-century map shows a group of outbuildings or slave cabins. Even though the map is later than the time period that we are interested in, it is possible that the cabins it depicts replaced an earlier slave quarter. So far, we have dug more than 75 small holes (shovel test pits) looking for artifacts or changes in soil color that will indicate that people lived in a particular area.