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Northeast Historical Archaeology

Abstract

Although a relatively short-lived phenomenon, plantation slavery was established in the Finger Lakes region of New York State by immigrant planters from Maryland and Virginia. Excavations at the Rose Hill site, Geneva, NY have located two quarter sites associated with these early 19th-century plantations, including the standing Jean Nicholas house on property once part of the White Springs Farm, the other a subsurface, though largely intact, stone foundation of a similar building at Rose Hill. Analysis of the refined earthenwares recovered from the plowzone at the Rose Hill quarter indicate that the structure was first occupied in the early 19th century, at the time that the original mansion house was built and Rose Hill cleared and prepared for large-scale agricultural production. The overall dimensions of the building, as well as evidence for the construction techniques, strongly suggest that the quarter was designed and built on piedmont quarter antecedents. Although much work still needs to be completed at the Rose Hill site, the evidence strongly suggests that a piedmont-style quarter was constructed when enslaved workers were forced to migrate to the Genesee Country in the opening decade of the 19th century. The evidence for slavery at Rose Hill suggests that mature, Virginia-style plantations were transplanted into upstate New York, opening a new avenue for the analysis of the material realities of slavery north of the Mason Dixon line.

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