Jackson Homestead is the 19th-early 20th century residence of an African American family in Montgomery County, Maryland. The site is located within the boundaries of a tract called “Prospect of Peace” purchased by Zacharias Downs (b. ca.1750-d.1831) in 1801. By the time he wrote his will in 1825, Downs listed 10 slaves among his household: five adults and five children. Among them was Malinda Adams Jackson, whose family occupied site 18MO609.
Malinda Adams Jackson was born into slavery in December 1825. Her mother, Rachel, was willed to Zacharia Downs’ daughter Ann Magruder Downs along with 100 acres of land in 1831. Presumably, Malinda stayed with her mother, because she and Rachel are both listed as part of Ann Magruder Downs’ household in the 1850 census. By that time Malinda had her first son, John Adams. In the 1850s, Malinda married Thomas Jackson, a laborer on a neighboring plantation, but the couple apparently continued to live apart as was common for married slaves of different owners. The Jacksons had at least five children together between 1855 and 1865: George, Milburn, Thomas E., Emma, and Mary E., all of whom lived with Malinda as part of Ann Downs’ household.
The Civil War and the end of slavery do not seem to have parted the Jacksons from Ann Downs’ household, but the dynamic was certainly altered. In 1869, Malinda Jackson purchased 8.75 acres of the Prospect of Peace tract from Ann and became a landowner herself. When Malinda died between 1870 and 1879, her son John Adams became the head of household, possibly after an absence in which he served as a Baltimore mariner. John then lived at the house along with his wife, children, and unmarried half siblings.
The property was occupied by different descendants of Malinda Adams Jackson throughout the following decades as some of her children married and raised families there, some family members moved away for good, and others came and went depending on their circumstances. The Jacksons also hosted farm laborers as boarders. In 1910, seven family members and two boarders lived at the site. Catastrophic fire marked the end of occupation at Jackson Homestead ca. 1915. By the time Malinda’s daughter Mary E. Jackson sold the property in 1916, no one was living there, and no one was listed as occupying the site from that point on.
Jackson Homestead was identified during a 2004 Phase I survey prompted by plans for construction of the Intercounty Connector (ICC) between I-270 in Montgomery County and U.S. Route 1 in Prince George’s County. Phase II and III excavations followed in 2008. The site was surveyed with ground-penetrating radar, followed by hand-excavation of test units. The yard and house exterior were sampled by the excavation of 35 units and 36 shovel tests. Three structures were identified at the site: Structure A, the main family house; Structure B, a possible dwelling or storage building with an associated cellar; and Structure C, a pier-set dwelling less substantial than the main house.
Archaeological and historical evidence indicates that Structure A was constructed for Zacharias Downs’ slaves in the first quarter of the 19th century as a 10’ x 13’ single-pen 1.5 story log quarter with a fieldstone foundation and chimney. At some point after Malinda Jackson bought the property in 1869, but before 1890, a balloon-frame two story addition measuring 13’ x 20’ was constructed, again on a fieldstone foundation. This house burned ca. 1915, presumably while people still lived there, so clothing, furniture, and household objects were deposited in the archaeological record in such a way as to make it possible for archaeologists to make conjectural drawings of the internal arrangement of the house’s contents. Additionally, artifact caches interpreted as spiritual or religious in origin were identified in the chimney and around the foundation. This structure was fully excavated with 100% collection and over 160,000 artifacts were recovered at the site.
Evidence for Structure B was limited to a cellar feature. No heat source was identified, so it could have been some kind of storage area or secondary dwelling. No determination could be made based on the archaeology. Structure C was located by the identification of stone piers in situ and the presence of domestic trash and stove parts point to its use as a dwelling. It is possible that structures B and C housed the boarders who stayed with the family.
Summary by Sara Rivers Cofield
|Bedell, John and Charles LeeDecker
|Archeological Survey of the Intercounty Connector Project, Montgomery and Prince George's Counties, Maryland: Addendum. Prepared by The Louis Berger Group, Inc. for the Maryland State Highway Administration. SHA Archeological Report No. 333 MHT # MO 215.
|Furgerson, Kathleen, Varna Boyd, Carey O'Reilly, Justin Bedard, Tracy Formica, and Anthony Randolph, Jr.
|Phase II and III Archaeological Investigations of the Fairland Branch Site and the Jackson Homestead (Site 18MO609), Intercounty Connector Project, Montgomery County, Maryland. Prepared by the URS Corporation for the Maryland State Highways Administration. SHA Archaeological Report No. 426. MHT Report #MO 278.
|Schablitsky, Julie M.
|Meanings and Motivations Behind the Use of West African Spirit Practices. In Historical Archaeology and the Importance of Material Things II, edited by Julie M. Schablitsky and Mark P. Leone, pp. 45-67. Special Publication Number 9, The Society for Historical Archaeology, Rockville, Maryland.
Archaeological collections from the Jackson Homestead site are owned by the Maryland Historical Trust, and curated at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory.