TABLE OF CONTENTS
2. Historical Background
3. Previous Investigations
4. Material Culture Analysis
5. Recommendations and Conclusions
This report represents the end product of a carefully targeted program of background and archival research and artifact analysis focused on the history and archaeology of the Eagle Tavern property on South Broad Street in the City of Trenton, Mercer County, New Jersey. The work was carried out by Hunter Research, Inc. under contract to the Trenton Historical Society and was funded with the assistance of a research grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission.
The Eagle Tavern, one of Trenton’s oldest and most revered historic buildings, occupies the western corner lot (Block 51B, Lot 1) of South Broad and Ferry Streets and comprises a large, seven-bay, two-room-deep brick edifice built in two principal stages (Figures A.1 and A.2; Plates B.1-B.4). The southern four bays were almost certainly erected as a dwelling by Philadelphia merchant Robert Waln shortly after 1765; the northern three bays are believed to have been added in the 1830s, by which time the building served as a tavern and hotel. The property has been vacant for more than a decade and is currently the subject of a major restoration initiative by the City of Trenton with the ultimate goal of reinvigorating the building with a long-term commercial or retail use. The Eagle Tavern has been listed in the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places since 1972 and is also a City of Trenton Historic Landmark.
The current research project centered on two tasks. First, a concerted effort was made to review, clarify and supplement the various published and unpublished historical accounts of the Eagle Tavern, which have been the source of considerable and continuing confusion over the years. Section 2 of this report offers an updated historical synthesis of the property which draws on past research by several individuals (notably, Edward M. McNulty, Mary Alice Quigley and Martin Rosenblum), published and unpublished historical data (e.g., Raum 1871; Cleary 1917; Trenton Historical Society 1929; Pearson and Quigley 1971; Rosenblum 1976) and examination of archival materials held by the City of Trenton, Hamilton Township, Burlington County, Hunterdon County, the New Jersey State Archives, the New Jersey Historical Society and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (chiefly deeds, mortgages, surrogates records, tax ratable assessments, tavern licenses, city directories).
The second component of this project was archaeological. Between 1976 and 1981, the Eagle Tavern property was the subject of intermittent archaeological investigation in connection with earlier restoration activity by the City of Trenton. This work, led by officers of the Trenton Historical Society and faculty members at Mercer County Community College and Rider College, produced a body of field documentation (much of it now lost) and a substantial artifact assemblage (believed to be mostly, but not entirely, intact). In 2003 and 2004, Hunter Research staff, in the course of analyzing the large collection of ceramics recovered from the William Richards stoneware pottery kiln on the nearby Lamberton waterfront (Hunter 2000, 2001; Liebeknecht and Hunter 2003; Hunter Research, Inc. forthcoming), re-examined the Eagle Tavern artifacts and realized that pottery wasters very similar to the Richards material, as well as kiln debris, were present in the assemblage. The likeness was sufficiently remarkable that it was thought that the work of a single potter was represented at both archaeological sites. Through a combination of archival research (which addressed the property adjoining the Eagle Tavern to the north) and material culture study, it was deduced that the potter in question was one James Rhodes, who was producing stoneware in Trenton during the 1770s and early 1780s.
Considerable effort was also expended on reconstructing the archaeological excavations of 1976-81 in order to better characterize the archaeological potential of the Eagle Tavern site, not only in terms of possible further evidence for pottery manufacture, but also as a source of tavern-related activity and material culture. Informal interviewing of key individuals involved in the excavations (notably Arthur Forman and David Collier) was undertaken and the limited surviving field documentation (principally field notes and slides) was examined in detail. Sections 3 and 4 of this report document the results of this archaeological reassessment and the process by which James Rhodes has been identified as the key figure linking the stoneware found at the Eagle Tavern and at William Richards’ Lamberton pottery. Appendix D contains a comprehensive catalog of all artifacts recovered from the 1976-81 excavations that are presently in the possession of the Trenton Historical Society.
2. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
A. COLONIAL BACKGROUND
In the late 17th century, the land on which the Eagle Tavern presently stands would have been situated close to the northern limit of the English-settled areas in the province of West New Jersey. Less than a mile to the north, the lower section of Assunpink Creek formed the northern boundary of the Yorkshire (or Upper or First) Tenth, a subdivision of West Jersey that extended from the Falls of the Delaware south to Rancocas Creek. Acquired from the West Jersey Proprietors in 1676 by a group of English Quakers, most of whom hailed from Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and South Yorkshire in the Midlands, the Yorkshire Tenth contained approximately 64,000 acres. In 1688, land within the Yorkshire Tenth extending between the Assunpink and Crosswicks Creek became the basis for the municipality named Nottingham Township (Snyder 1969; Hunter Research, Inc. 2003).
Mahlon Stacy, a native of Handsworth, near Sheffield in Yorkshire, was the original Quaker settler on Assunpink Creek at the Falls of the Delaware. The holder of two full proprietary shares within the province of West Jersey and a tanner by trade, Stacy laid claim to a large and desirable property that straddled both sides of the Assunpink and included within its bounds the site of the future Eagle Tavern (Table C.1). In 1679 he built a gristmill at the present-day South Broad Street crossing of this stream. This grain processing facility provided the initial economic stimulus for nucleated settlement on the New Jersey side of the Falls of the Delaware and soon developed into one of the largest colonial mills in the region. Mahlon Stacy died in 1714, leaving his considerable estate, known as Ballifield, to his son, Mahlon Stacy, Jr. The younger Stacy promptly sold the 800-acre core of his father’s property to William Trent, a prominent merchant from Philadelphia. Trent played a pivotal role in setting up Hunterdon County on the north side of the Assunpink, where he laid the groundwork for the newly implanted settlement of “Trent’s Town” (Hunter Research, Inc. 2003).
When William Trent died intestate on Christmas Day of 1724, his Assunpink Creek properties passed to his son, James Trent. Five years later, the younger Trent sold a 300-acre tract on the south side of Assunpink Creek to William Morris (West Jersey Deed D-382). William Morris subsequently sold this estate to George Thomas of Antigua in October of 1733 (West Jersey Deed DD-333 and DD-336). Thomas, active in the politics of the British West Indies in the early 18th century, appears never to have personally occupied his Trenton holdings. Throughout his 20-year tenure of the Trent estate, the property was known as “Kingsbury” (Hunter Research, Inc. 2003).
Robert Lettis Hooper II, a merchant, surveyor and local Trenton “squire,” acquired the Kingsbury plantation from George Thomas in 1753 (West Jersey Deed U-335). Hooper was the grandson of Daniel Hooper, a plantation owner in Barbados, and the son of Robert Lettis Hooper I, who had succeeded William Trent as Chief Justice of New Jersey. The younger Robert Lettis Hooper moved to Trenton in 1751 from Rocky Hill, where he also owned a sizeable mill complex located on the Millstone River. It was Robert Lettis Hooper II who laid out the street network in today’s Mill Hill and Bloomsbury, this latter name being substituted for the Royal-sounding Kingsbury after the Revolution (Trenton Historical Society 1929:598-600; Hunter 1999).
B. THE WALN PERIOD
In 1754, Robert Lettis Hooper II surveyed substantial portions of the Kingsbury estate with a view to future subdivision (unfortunately, no map illustrating this scheme has so far been found). In 1763, he conveyed a quarter-acre lot in the western angle of the present-day South Broad Street/Ferry Street intersection to George Bright, a baker who lived near the Trenton Mills at the bridge over the Assunpink (Table C.1). This lot, No. 34 in the Hooper plan for subdividing Kingsbury, encompassed today’s Eagle Tavern property and measured 60 feet along Queen Street (modern South Broad Street), 181 feet along Ferry Street and 75 feet along the rear of the lot. Two years later, Robert Waln purchased the same lot from George Bright, along with a second parcel owned by Bright, for 750 pounds (West Jersey Deed AV/130). This indenture references messuages and a cooper’s shop, although it is unclear which of the two lots contained these premises. Also in 1765, Waln purchased the Trenton Mills and its associated 29-acre mill tract from Robert Lettis Hooper II. Robert Waln was yet another prominent Philadelphia merchant with Trenton aspirations, whose Quaker family is perhaps best known in New Jersey for its involvement with the mill-based plantation and village community at Walnford on Crosswicks Creek (Hunter Research, Inc. 2003, 2004).
Soon after his acquisition of the Bright property, probably in the late 1760s, Robert Waln erected a building on the Queen Street frontage close to Ferry Street. On the basis of the archival record and historic architectural analysis, this structure is believed to be represented by the southeastern four bays of the presently standing seven-bay building. Almost certainly this building was originally constructed as a dwelling, and its intended occupants may well have been members of the Waln family visiting the Waln holdings in Trenton. It is relevant here that, when Robert Waln purchased the Trenton Mills property in 1765, this was the point at which the mills became detached from the Kingsbury estate and its principal residence (the building today known as the William Trent House). Waln thus became the proud owner of a substantial mill seat, but had no residence in Trenton befitting his station as a wealthy merchant. It is hypothesized that the building he erected at the corner of Ferry and Queen Streets, critically located midway along the road between the ferry and the mills, was intended to serve this purpose (Trenton Historical Society 1929:330; Pearson and Quigley 1971; Rosenblum 1976:2; Hunter Research, Inc. 2003, 2004).
Roughly a decade after Robert Waln assumed control of the Trenton Mills and his various Kingsbury holdings, Trenton found itself in the eye of the storm that was the American Revolution. In late December of 1776, as part of the events surrounding the First Battle of Trenton, significant military activity took place on the banks of the Delaware at the foot of Ferry Street, along the Lower Assunpink and in the streets of Trenton itself. A series of maps produced around this time by the Hessian lieutenants Wiederhold, Piel and Fischer depict the principal troop movements in and around the town. All three of these maps depict a building at the corner of Queen and Ferry Streets, which was presumably the structure erected by Robert Waln. The map produced by Lieutenant Fischer (Figure A.3) places a “T” beside the building at this location, adding in the accompanying legend the explanation: “Commands which retreated to Burlington.” This annotation references the withdrawal of part of the British and Hessian forces following the American victory after approximately two hours of intermittent and somewhat disorganized fighting. Quite possibly, Fischer’s annotation is intended to indicate that the Waln dwelling was used by British and Hessian officers during their retreat.
A few days later, on January 2, 1777, as Washington moved to build on his initial victory at Trenton with a second surprise attack on the British at Princeton, another engagement took place that was focused more specifically on the Queen Street crossing of the Assunpink. In this Second Battle of Trenton, also known as the Battle of the Assunpink, American forces resisting a British thrust southward through the town made a stand on the slope on the south side of the creek. At the bridge over the Assunpink, Washington’s American forces successfully drove back the British, thereby setting the scene for their overnight march and successful assault on Princeton the next day (Hunter Research, Inc. 1999).
Who was occupying or using the building at the corner of Queen and Ferry Streets during the Revolutionary War years is unclear, although it seems unlikely that the Walns could have comfortably lived here for prolonged periods while the war was in progress. Around this time, the building apparently functioned briefly as a school for the neighboring Mill Hill area to the north. A Mrs. Dagworthy, who went on to marry the well-known Trenton merchant and Revolutionary War figure, Abraham Hunt, in 1781, reportedly administered this place of learning, most likely in the 1770s when she was a single woman. There are also many unsubstantiated tales of George Washington visiting these premises in the immediate post-Revolutionary era. Following the death of Robert Waln in 1784, the property was inherited by Waln's daughter, Hannah, and there is a good possibility that she lived here when in Trenton in the mid- to late 1780s.(Hewitt 1916:56; Rosenblum 1976; Davis 2001; Trenton Public Library, Trentoniana Collection, Vertical Files).
A map of John Cox’s Trenton properties drawn up in 1789 shows the progress, both actual and planned, of subdivision along Queen Street, Ferry Street and in nearby Mill Hill (Figure A.4). While Waln ownership of lands along the Assunpink is shown (Waln is indicated as “Wall”), the lot at the corner of Queen and Ferry Streets is not attributed to Hannah Waln, who is known to have been the owner at this time from other documentary sources. Instead, this map shows three adjoining parcels, with the corner lot as the southernmost, as being in the hands of “Ashmore.” In actuality, the Thomas Ashmore, to whom this refers, only owned the other two of the three parcels (Lots 32 and 33 of the old Hooper subdivision) (Burlington County Deed J3/432).
Hannah Waln married Gideon H. Wells on May 11, 1790 and the pair maintained ownership of the corner lot into the early 19th century in the face of what appear to have been mounting financial problems (Rosenblum 1976). By 1803, the Trenton Mills, which the Wells also jointly owned, was struggling and Gideon Wells was bankrupt. In this year Gideon Wells conveyed his life estate to two assignees, who in turn granted the rights to his half share in the 29-acre mill tract to his brother-in-law, Robert Waln, Jr.. His wife, Hannah, who held the other half share in the mill tract, also mortgaged her interest in the property to her brother Robert. Two years later, the Wells sold the lot at the corner of Queen and Ferry Streets with its “large brick house” to Jacob S. Waln, another merchant member of the Philadelphia-based Waln family (West Jersey Deed AV/236). This transaction may have occurred as a short-term maneuver to prevent the property from being confiscated as part of bankruptcy proceedings against the Wells, for later the same year, Jacob Waln reportedly deeded it back to Gideon H. and Hannah Waln Wells. This latter transaction, which could not be verified through examination of Burlington County records, is assumed to be documented in land records in Philadelphia (Rosenblum 1976; Hunter Research, Inc. 2004).
C. THE TAVERN PERIOD
The corner lot at the intersection of Queen and Ferry Streets finally passed out of Waln family ownership in 1811 when David Gordon acquired the property from Gideon Wells for $900.00 (Burlington County Deed X/144) (Table C.1). The property subsequently changed hands five more times before the mid-point of the 19th century, passing from Gordon to William West in 1813, to Samuel and Jesse Johnson in 1814, to Peter Smick in 1821, to Robert McNeely in 1827, to Elijah Brown in 1834, and finally to David Toms and Herbert Norcross in 1847 (Burlington County Deeds Y/534, A2/476, M2/321, U2/492 and H3/521; Mercer County Deed M/200).
Supposedly by 1817, when George Douglass filed the first documented application for a license to sell alcoholic beverages at the Eagle Tavern, the building at the corner of Ferry and Broad Streets was being operated for this purpose (Rosenblum 1976). However, to confuse matters, there was also another Eagle Tavern in operation on the east side of North Warren Street, north of East Hanover Street, during the early years of the 19th century (Raum 1871:444; Trenton Historical Society 1929:321). Assuming the Douglass premises have been correctly pinpointed and there was only one Eagle Tavern in operation in the city in the second and third decades of the 19th century, then a succession of tavern license applicants - John Bunting, John Pearce and Israel Hutchinson, and perhaps also George Phillips and Benjamin Reed – followed in Douglass’ steps as tavern keepers at the corner of Ferry and Broad Streets (Woodward and Hageman 1883:708; Boyer 1962::74-75; Rosenblum 1976). While more thorough research of tavern-related records is sorely needed, it appears therefore that the Eagle Tavern – the building on Ferry and Broad – first took on this commercial mantle at some point in the second decade of the 19th century, probably after the property passed out of Waln/Wells family ownership.
In the 1820s and 1830s, the growing popularity of horse racing on the eastern seaboard worked to the advantage of the Eagle Tavern. Trenton’s race track, known as the Eagle Race Course and one of a small number of these facilities in the region, was located on 100 acres a short distance to the east of the tavern close to the intersection of modern South Clinton Avenue and Hudson Street in Chambersburg. The tavern premises soon became an important hub for the track owners, horse owners and race goers. Overnight accommodations were offered for their benefit and horses were stabled to the rear of the building. Racehorses and their owners from as far afield as Virginia, the Carolinas, Louisiana and Kentucky spent their summers in the area and patronized the tavern. In fact, during this period, the Eagle Tavern was equally well known as the Eagle Hotel (Pearson and Quigley 1971; Rosenblum 1976).
The increased commercial activity is believed to have spurred the expansion and remodeling of the original building, which most likely took place in the 1820s or 1830s when the property was subject to mortgage arrangements. In 1823, Peter Smick took out a mortgage on the tavern property from Robert McNeely, then the Mayor of Trenton (Burlington County Mortgage H/295). Four years later, the tavern and another tract owned by Smick on Broad Street were seized and purchased by McNeely (Burlington County Deed U2/492). In 1834 Elijah Brown acquired the tavern property from McNeely and also took out a mortgage (Rosenblum 1976). The documentation for this latter mortgage has not been located in Burlington County archival sources (it may survive in Philadelphia area records). Nevertheless, based on the mortgage activity and historic architectural evidence, at some point in the 1820s or 1830s the tavern is believed to have been extended by three bays to the north (possibly replacing a smaller wing adjoining the northwestern gable end of the original Waln dwelling). The interior of the original dwelling is also thought to have been modernized at the same time. While perhaps stimulated by the nearby horse racing, the enlargement of the tavern also coincided with a broader phenomenon of population growth in south Trenton that led in 1838 to the Bloomsbury/Mill Hill area forming the basis for the City of Trenton’s Third Ward within the newly created Mercer County (Boyer 1962:75; Rosenblum 1976; Trenton Public Library, Trentoniana Collection, Vertical Files).
During Elijah Brown’s period of ownership from the mid-1830s into the later 1840s, it is clear from a review of Burlington County tavern licenses that Brown himself did not operate the tavern. For example, in May of 1835, both Margaret Gordon (who also had managed the National Hotel and the Mercer County Hotel) and Orrin Bailey petitioned for a license for the Eagle Tavern (Burlington County Tavern Licenses). Brown also became involved as a landowner in the complicated sequence of events that led to the completion of the first direct rail link between New York and Philadelphia over the Trenton Delaware bridge, deeding a right-of-way across his land immediately north of the tavern to the Camden and Amboy Railroad Company in 1839. This latter arrangement helped conclude several years of jostling between competing railroads and the Trenton and New Brunswick Turnpike Company over control of the Trenton bridge (Trenton Historical Society 1929; Rosenblum 1976; Cunningham 1997:45).
Throughout this period, people traveling between New York and Philadelphia will have formed a major part of the clientele at the Eagle Tavern. From the mid-1840s onward, tavern business flourished still further with Peter Cooper’s founding of iron rolling mills and wire mills at two nearby sites in south Trenton. Aside from catering to the growing number of factory workers settling in the neighborhood, the tavern likely provided meals to teamsters hauling coal to the local ironworks. In 1845, the Eagle Tavern was described as “a spacious and handsome public house” (Trenton Sunday Times Advertiser, February 5, 1937). Around this time, the Eagle Tavern was also a hotspot for gambling. According to one description, “the place was lit up, doors were wide open and rooms were full of gambling machines.” The participants laid bets with five penny pieces, eleven penny bits and Spanish coins. The tavern also served an important civic purpose as a polling place for election primaries. As local historian John J. Cleary noted, “if the walls of the Eagle hotel had a mind to speak” they would tell of the “lively election yarn of years gone by” (Cleary 1917; Trenton Public Library, Trentoniana Collection, Vertical Files).
The Sidney map of Trenton published in 1849 (Figure A.5) identifies the Eagle Hotel at the corner of Ferry and Broad Streets immediately south of the railroad right-of-way. A year later, with the city beginning to expand eastward beyond the Delaware and Raritan Canal stimulated in part by the new wire rope factory established by John A. Roebling, the racecourse closed down and the associated property began to be subdivided. These developments apparently had a deleterious effect on business at the Eagle Tavern. By 1853, ownership of the property was being disputed in the court of chancery, culminating in the sale of the tavern on August 10 to John C. Tunison for $3,775.00 (Mercer County Deed 27/119). Later the same day, Tunison conveyed the premises, identified as the “Eagle Hotel” to William W. Norcross (Mercer County Deed 27/122). Despite the closure of the racecourse, the tavern/hotel’s equine associations persisted, for a city directory published in the mid-1850s references William H. Doble, a Grand Circuit driver and horse trainer, as manager of the premises. Doble, whose five sons were also horsemen, expended considerable effort redecorating the building (Clark et al. 1854-1855; Pearson and Quigley 1971; Rosenblum 1976; Trenton Public Library, Trentoniana Collection, Vertical Files).
By 1859, city directories show J.B. Bruton managing the hotel. Jerome Bonaparte Bruton, a former tailor and wardrobe maker at the Arch Street Theatre in Philadelphia, reportedly relocated to Trenton in order to assume management of the Eagle Hotel in 1858. He continued to oversee the establishment through the Civil War era, when it was notable for being the scene of a rally for the Democrat Presidential nominee General George B. McClellan in 1864. Bruton later relocated to Edinburg in West Windsor Township after the Civil War where he met an untimely end at Princeton Junction, hit by a train while he was crossing the railroad track in his rig (Boyd 1859; Pearson and Quigley 1971; Trenton Public Library, Trentoniana Collection, Vertical Files).
William W. Norcross, owner of the Eagle Tavern property during the period of Bruton’s management of the hotel, died in 1867, whereupon his executors, Thomas I. Stryker and Lewis Perrine, conveyed the premises to Andrew Weir for $7,500.00 (Mercer County Deed 68/330). Weir had previously served as the proprietor of the “Fort Rawnsley,” a tavern situated at the corner of South Warren and Lamberton Streets (Trenton Public Library, Trentoniana Collection, Vertical Files). The Beers map of Trenton published in 1870 identifies “A. Weir” as the owner of the Eagle Tavern and shows stables ranged along the rear property line on Centre Street (Figure A.6). Four years later, the Fowler and Bailey bird’s eye view of the city depicts the residence and secondary buildings towards the rear of the property southeast of the railroad line (Figure A.7). In 1881, Andrew Weir still owned the property as evidenced by the Robinson and Pidgeon atlas of the City of Trenton published in that year (Figure A.8). On this map, the lot is shown extending to Centre Street with the outbuildings located northwest and well to the rear of the hotel building. During this period, the tavern served as a meeting place for the Free and Accepted Masons (Trenton Public Library, Trentoniana Collection, Vertical Files).
After Andrew Weir’s death in the early 1880s, Emma Connell, one of the proprietors of the hotel, petitioned the orphan’s court for a division of his estate. However, the division could not be made and the property was consequently put up for sale. Emma Connell and Margaret Leonard then purchased the hotel for $10,000.00 in 1882 (Mercer County Deed 133/547). Later in the same year, Emma Connell and her husband Lawrence, who boarded at the tavern and worked as an instructor at the state prison, conveyed their half-interest to Margaret Leonard, leaving the latter with sole title to the property (Mercer County Deed 133/546). The Sanborn map of 1874, updated to 1886, clearly depicts the location of the sheds and stables at the rear of the Eagle Tavern property around this time (Figure A.9). In 1902, Margaret Leonard conveyed the premises to the Trenton Trust & Safe Deposit Company (Mercer County Deed 252/53).
In 1903, Henry M. Beatty acquired the Eagle Tavern for $5,000.00 (Mercer County Deed 268/75). Pearson and Quigley (1971), however, note that Beatty had purchased the building in 1896 and that the tavern was closed shortly after the purchase. The Lathrop map of 1905 (Figure A.10) indicates that the tavern lot had been subdivided and that several sheds at the rear of the property on the southeast side of Centre Street had been removed. The Lathrop map also shows the recently expanded right-of-way of the rail corridor that accompanied the building of the new Pennsylvania Railroad crossing over the Delaware River in 1903. Careful comparison of the property lines shown on the Robinson and Pidgeon map of 1882 (Figure A.8) with those shown on the Lathrop map (Figure A.10), indicates that, while the railroad right-of-way was widened to the southeast, the narrow sliver of land left over that formerly belonged to the property adjoining the tavern lot to the northwest was appended to the tavern property. This minor adjustment of the Eagle Tavern’s northwestern property line has important implications for the interpretation of the archaeological materials found on the tavern lot in the late 1970s and early 1980s (see below, Section 3).
In 1917, Cleary noted that the hotel “had not been licensed for some years and after an existence of nearly a century and a half looks much the worse for wear.” Henry M. Beatty sold the tavern property to William and Florence Stockham in 1921, but reacquired it later the same year (Mercer County Deeds 463/503 and 463/507). In 1932 the property was transferred from Kate L. Beatty, Henry M. Beatty’s widow, to the Stockham family and then sold back again in the same year to Harry W. Beatty, remaining with Beatty until 1946 (Mercer County Deeds 695/343 and 695/351). In 1935, Harry W. Beatty sold a one-third interest to Kate L. Beatty, but later that year he reacquired full title to the entire premises (Mercer County Deeds 731/577 and 748/290). The Franklin Survey Company’s atlas of Trenton, published in 1930 (Figure A.11), shows the length of the Eagle Tavern lot along Ferry Street as being reduced and measuring approximately 73 feet. The tavern is depicted in a photograph taken in the following year. While appearing structurally sound, its exterior condition looks somewhat dilapidated (Plate B.5).
In 1946, the hotel was acquired by Frank Nonziato who planned to renovate the building and convert it into apartments (Pearson and Quigley 1971). The tavern is later represented on a fire insurance map of 1955 (Figure A.12) and was photographed four years later for tax documentation purposes (Plate B.6). In the latter photograph, the exterior appearance of the tavern is much improved with evidence of recent painting. At some point in the mid-20th century, probably during the period of Nonziato or subsequent Ferry Centre, Inc. ownership, a segment of the Eagle Tavern’s rear porch was fully enclosed. Additionally, the windows were replaced and spaces were partitioned in the interior of the building (Rosenblum 1976). The City of Trenton eventually purchased the tavern in 1965 and subsequently leased it to the Trenton Historical Society in 1973 as part of a restoration effort. In 1980, the Eagle Tavern opened as a restaurant (Quigley and Collier 1984:113), but closed a decade or so later. The property continues to be the subject of an ongoing stabilization and restoration effort, but as of this date remains unoccupied.
D. THE JAMES RHODES PROPERTY
To provide contextual background for the stoneware pottery sherds and kiln fragments found in the rear yard of the Eagle Tavern property, some brief historical detail is offered here concerning the parcel of land adjoining to the north, which was the site of a pottery established by James Rhodes in the late 1770s (Figure A.13). Prior to this, Rhodes is believed to have worked as a potter for the Philadelphia and Lamberton merchant, William Richards, in the mid-1770s, operating a kiln on the bank of the Delaware River near the foot of Landing Street. Remains of this earlier pottery were discovered in 2000 during archaeological monitoring of the construction of the Route 29 tunnel (Hunter Research, Inc., forthcoming, Volume III).
On September 22, 1778, James Rhodes (also spelled as Rhoads or Roads) purchased from William and Elizabeth Clayton a messuage and lot of land adjoining and north of Robert Waln’s lot at the corner of Ferry and Queen Streets (Table C.2). This indenture could not be located but is referenced in a subsequent deed (Burlington County Deed J3/432). Unfortunately, little is known about James Rhodes. His name first appears in the Nottingham Township tax ratables in 1774. For this year, the list is arranged in the order that the taxpayers were assessed in the field and not alphabetically by surname. Rhodes was identified as a householder (one who occupied a house) rather than as an individual who possessed real estate. On the tax list, Rhodes’ name was followed by James Matthews’ and John Clunn’s. Matthews was a mariner who lived in Lamberton on property lying to the south of William Richards’ fishery tract; Clunn owned a tract fronting the Delaware River to the south of Matthews’ property. William Richards, a Philadelphia apothecary and merchant, owned the Lamberton fishery and operated a range of other facilities on the riverbank in Lamberton including a store, warehouse, smokehouse, mustard and chocolate mill, cooper shop, bakery, a pottery and possibly a gristmill (Nottingham Township Tax Ratables 1774; Branin 1988:52; Hunter Research, Inc. forthcoming, Volume III).
Assuming the tax collector visited each residence door-to-door from north to south, it may be deduced that James Rhodes was living on William Richards’ fishery tract in 1774 and probably operating a pottery there. James Rhodes does not appear in the ratables for the preceding year, suggesting that the pottery was newly established in 1773-74. In August of 1778, William Richards advertised for “a man that understands making the GR Holland stone ware” (Lee 1903). Since James Rhodes purchased a dwelling in Kingsbury from the Claytons in September of 1778, it appears that this advertisement may have been prompted by Rhodes’ departure from the Richards pottery in Lamberton.
Shortly after James Rhodes purchased the property in Kingsbury (comprising Lots 32 and 33 in the Hooper subdivision of 1754), he established a pottery on the tract. However, Rhodes died in 1784 and the property passed to his widow, Catherine, and son, William (Branin 1988:52). Rhodes’ will, witnessed by John Yard, Isaac Yard and Joseph Cowgill, was recorded in Hunterdon County rather than in Burlington County where his property was actually located (Hunterdon County Estate File #1266J).
In 1786, Catherine Rhodes advertised for sale “the house and potworks late the estate of James Rhodes, deceased, in Nottingham Twp., Burlington County, near Trenton” (Wilson 1988:92). The announcement noted that interested persons could contact either Catherine Rhodes or John Yard. Several days later, the Inferior Court of Common Pleas ordered Catherine Rhodes, the executrix of James Rhodes, to pay Jacob Benjamin, assignee of Hugh Smith, 21 pounds, one shilling and eight pence. The amount was to be levied on the estate of James Rhodes for Rhodes’ not making good on certain promises. It was further ordered that if Catherine was unable to provide this amount, then the levy would be reduced to 43 shillings and two pence (Burlington County Minutes, Book G). Catherine Rhodes died shortly thereafter in Hunterdon County (Hunterdon County Will 2329J).
At this point the history and genealogy of the Rhodes family and their pottery making activity become obscure. William Rhodes, son of James and Catherine may have served in the Revolutionary War (Stryker 1872). However, no surrogates records were found for William Rhodes in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in Burlington, Hunterdon or even Mercer Counties, suggesting that he may have relocated elsewhere prior to his death. Several individuals with this surname lived in Sussex County around this time, although no connection has yet been made between the Sussex County and Trenton area Rhodes families.
Several years later, in 1859, another William Rhodes, from Scotland, partnered with James Yates in founding one of Trenton’s earliest industrial potteries. This business, a precursor to the City Pottery, concentrated solely on the manufacture of white granite and cream-colored ware (Raum 1871:257; Trenton Historical Society 1929:922; Hunter Research, Inc. 1999). Other potters named Rhodes moved to Trenton in the second half of the 19th century. For instance, in 1860, the federal census lists an English potter, William Rhodes, and a Scottish potter, John Rhodes, both of whom lived in Trenton (U.S. Census, Population Schedules, 1860). By 1880, several others with the same surname (at least seven individuals) were employed at potteries in Trenton (U.S. Census, Population Schedules, 1880). However, establishing whether or not there is any connection between these later Rhodes potters and James Rhodes of Lamberton and Kingsbury, would require a substantial genealogical investigation that would likely need to be conducted on both sides of the Atlantic.
After the James Rhodes property in Kingsbury was advertised for sale by Catherine Rhodes in 1786, David Morris Robeson and Thomas Ashmore purchased the tract in the following year (Burlington County Deed J3/432). There is no indication that Robeson, Ashmore or any other subsequent owners of the tract operated a pottery there. The lot was later acquired by Elijah Brown, Jr. of New York in 1834 for $660 (Burlington County Deed J3/414), who earlier the same year had acquired the Eagle Tavern property in a separate purchase (Burlington County Deed H3/521). It was through a portion of the former Rhodes property that Brown granted a right-of-way to the Camden and Amboy Railroad in 1839 (see above). Also, as noted in Section C above, the northwestern property line of the Eagle Tavern lot was shifted slightly further to the northwest around 1903 when the railroad right-of-way was expanded. This resulted in a strip of land that had formerly been a part of the Rhodes lot being placed within the tavern lot, an adjustment that has important implications for the interpretation of archaeological finds along the northwestern edge of the modern tavern lot (see below).
3. PREVIOUS ARCHAEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS
Between 1976 and 1981 an intermittent program of semi-formal archaeological investigation – part field school for students at Mercer County Community College and Rider College, and part avocational activity by members of the Trenton Historical Society and local area residents – was undertaken at the Eagle Tavern property. These investigations were ostensibly carried out in conjunction with building restoration efforts, specifically with actions aimed at stabilizing the front and rear porches, rehabilitating the basement, and grading and landscaping of the rear yard. Although performed with the knowledge of the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office (then known as the Office of New Jersey Heritage), this work did not constitute formal archaeological evaluation or mitigation under the New Jersey Register of Historic Places Act, which technically could have applied since the Eagle Tavern is listed in the New Jersey Register of Historic Places and the restoration activity was in part state-funded. Likewise, the work was performed with the knowledge of the Trenton Landmarks Commission for Historic Preservation, but did not constitute a formal investigative effort required by city government.
Numerous individuals were involved with the various Eagle Tavern archaeological operations. Among the more active participants were the following:: Arthur Forman and David Collier, respectively professors of anthropology and history at Mercer County Community College; Edward M. McNulty, professor of history at Rider College; George Pearson, architect; Mary Alice Quigley, local historian; Charlene Paull, who evidently served as a field director for much of the work in the rear yard; and several students, notably Emil Gombosi, Jerome Harcar, Alan Gasior and Bill Bietel. In retrospect, it is regrettable that professionally trained archaeologists did not take a stronger role in the investigations. Unfortunately, no technical report describing the field methodology and findings was prepared, and the vast majority of the field documentation (site drawings, photographs and field notes) have subsequently been lost. No comprehensive catalog of artifacts recovered was produced. Many of the key individuals involved have since passed away, moved away from the area or simply forgotten much of the detail of what was found.
This section of the current report summarizes the work undertaken in 1976-81 to the best of the authors’ ability and offers some limited interpretation concerning the findings. In the absence of any surviving overall site plan showing the locations of the various excavations, Figure A.14 has been compiled from photographs taken at the time (Plates B.7-B.13), from the few remaining field notes (from 1980-81) and from provenience information on the bags of artifacts. This site map cannot claim any great accuracy or even completeness regarding the placement of excavations, but it does give a general idea of where most of the fieldwork occurred and where some of the more archaeologically sensitive areas of the site are located.
In 1976, excavations were conducted beneath the front porch directly outside and adjacent to the two main South Broad Street entries into the building - one into the original section of the tavern and the other into the addition to the northwest. A more extensive program of excavation was carried out in the rear yard in the late fall of 1979. For this latter work a rudimentary grid was laid out running parallel and perpendicular to the rear of the building. A series of excavation pits and trenches were then dug along a north-south axis beneath the rear porch and along several transects running perpendicular to the rear wall of the building across the rear yard.
Unfortunately, no field records have been found for any of the fieldwork performed in 1976 and 1979, although several color slides have been helpful in reconstructing the progress and position of the excavations (Plates B.7-B.13). Of particular note are the two images showing the relatively large, partially excavated area, believed to be centrally located to the southwest of the rear porch, where fragments of stoneware pottery wasters and saggers can be seen in the side walls and base of the excavation unit (Plates B.11 and B.12). One other image also clearly shows a sagger fragment in some unspecified part of the site (Plate B.13). In more general terms, the excavations conducted in 1979 also recovered a broad range of artifacts that may be considered tavern-related (see below, Section 4 and Appendix D). For the most part, these excavations did not extend much beyond 14 to 15 inches in depth, raising the possibility that deeper cultural deposits may still survive in areas that were examined in the late 1970s. There is also some potential for shaft features (wells, privies, cisterns and refuse pits) and remains of outbuildings (e.g., sheds, wagon houses, ice houses) being found in other parts of the rear yard, although many of these site components were probably located further to the west on parts of the tavern property that were subdivided into separate building lots in the later 19th and early 20th centuries.
In the late fall of 1980 and the summer of 1981, further work was undertaken in the rear yard, most notably just west of the concrete pad supporting the air conditioning compressor unit adjacent to the west corner of the building (Excavation Location AO1). This latter phase of work is of critical interest since it produced even more substantial quantities of stoneware pottery wasters and saggers, as well as some possible kiln remains. Although no photographs of this phase of the work have been found, one field notebook survives containing semi-legible and frequently obtuse notes and sketches. Included in these notes and sketches are unmistakable, if poorly expressed, references by the excavators to glazed pottery, glazed brick, ash and a “furnace” or “kiln.” Most of these materials appear to have been found close to the fence line along the present-day northwestern edge of the tavern property, to the west of the tavern building.
After comparing late 18th- and 19th-century deed plots and with late 19th- and early 20th-century historic maps, it is believed that a strip of ground, roughly five feet wide at its northeastern end, ten feet wide to the southwest and now contained within the Eagle Tavern property, was formerly part of the neighboring property to the northwest (Figure A.14). This latter property, from 1778 until 1784 contained the house and pottery works of James Rhodes. Based on these historical data and the types of artifacts found during the archaeological excavations of 1979-81, there is a reasonable possibility that remains of a pottery kiln erected by James Rhodes – or, at the very least, kiln debris and pottery waste from Rhodes’ pottery operations – are located in this section of the Eagle Tavern’s rear yard.
While the bulk of the archaeological activity appears to have taken place in 1976 and 1979-81, it is possible that additional investigation took place in the intervening years. Many of the bags of artifacts recovered, for example, gave no indication of date. Some limited excavation work also occurred inside the basement of the tavern building, most likely between 1975 and 1977, but no clear written record of this activity has been found. This latter work apparently focused mostly on the fireplace footings in the center of the building, where a large corner (probably kitchen) fireplace with the remains of a bake oven can still be seen in the northern corner of the rear basement room in the original section of the building. Abutting the back and to the east of this fireplace, in the western corner of the front basement room, are also traces of the footings supporting another corner fireplace on the first floor above.
4. MATERIAL CULTURE ANALYSIS
In the fall of 2003 various artifacts recovered from the archaeological excavations conducted at the Eagle Tavern between 1976 and 1981 were transported from the headquarters of the Trenton Historical Society at the Alexander Douglass House on West Front Street to the Hunter Research offices on West State Street. These materials, contained in 76 deteriorated brown paper grocery bags, were believed to represent the vast majority of the artifacts found, although it is thought that a small number of the more exhibit-worthy pieces may still be held in private hands. No formal artifact catalog accompanied these materials and, as noted above, the whereabouts of most of the field documentation from the excavations remain unknown.
The Eagle Tavern assemblage was initially transferred to the Hunter Research offices for the purpose of comparative examination with artifacts then being cataloged from the recently completed Route 29 excavations along the nearby Lamberton waterfront. It was with considerable surprise that researchers found a substantial proportion of the ceramics within the Eagle Tavern assemblage comprised pottery wasters and kiln furniture bearing a marked resemblance to items found at William Richards’ stoneware pottery in Lamberton, a manufactory that was in operation from roughly 1773 until 1778. This realization provided the main impetus for the artifact cataloging and analysis presented in this report.
Some, but not all, of the bags containing the Eagle Tavern artifacts had hand-written provenience information on the bag exterior, which was presumed to apply to the items within. This in itself represented something of a “leap of faith,” since some of the artifacts were marked with a sequence of numbers and letters, which confusingly did not appear to correlate with the provenience information recorded on the bags. After further examination, the artifacts (primarily the stoneware wasters and a small sampling of the bottle glass) appeared for the most part to have been assigned a discrete and sequential number, although upon completion of the cataloging some duplicate numbers were noted. Many other bags provided no locational information and the contents were therefore assigned to a “general provenience” category. Insofar as the assemblage allowed, provenience information included on the bags and artifacts has been retained and incorporated into the artifact catalog included as Appendix D in this report.
For the purposes of the simple analysis presented below, because of the poor provenience data, the assemblage was initially treated as a single entity. Following some judicious culling of the assemblage to remove 20th-century materials of little relevance to the history of the site, a total of 4,087 artifacts were cataloged. With the exception of six prehistoric artifacts, these items were then assigned to one of two groups, which are discussed in more detail below: 1). artifacts associated with the domestic occupation and tavern-related use of the site (2,213 specimens [54% of the assemblage]); and 2). kiln debris, kiln furniture and pottery wasters associated with James Rhodes’ stoneware pottery (1,868 specimens [46% of the assemblage]). The six prehistoric artifacts recovered from the site comprised three pieces of quartzite thermally-altered rock, two pieces of lithic debitage (one of argillite and one of quartz) and the tip of a chert projectile point.
A. DOMESTIC AND TAVERN-RELATED ARTIFACTS
Artifacts judged to be the result of domestic and tavern-related activity on the Eagle Tavern property are summarized in Table C.3 using a simple classification system that is based partly on function and partly on raw material. This classificatory system is a modification of a functionally-based artifact analytical model developed in the 1970s by historical archaeologist Stanley South (South 1977).
The preponderance of glass and ceramic artifacts, respectively accounting for 45% and 40% of the domestic and tavern-related assemblage, should be considered neither especially characteristic nor atypical of domestic occupation or tavern-related activity. The total number of artifacts is both too small and their derivation within the site is too uncertain to support the attribution of all or parts of the assemblage to one or other of these uses. Since the site supported a dwelling from the mid-1760s through into the first or second decades of the 19th century, it is likely that most artifacts distinguishable as being exclusively made in the 18th century probably derive from the period of the Waln family’s use of the dwelling. Likewise, most 19th-century artifacts may be attributed to the period of tavern usage from the second decade of the 19th century onward. Recognition of patterning within late 18th- and 19th-century domestic and tavern-related artifact assemblages is a task fraught with uncertainty, even when dealing with much larger volumes of cultural materials, as has been noted in other recent studies of Mid-Atlantic tavern sites (e.g., Hunter Research, Inc. 1993; Affleck 2000; Hunter Research, Inc. 2003).
A selection of the glass fragments recovered is illustrated in Plate B.14. Most of the glass was from olive green wine or liquor bottles (795 fragments [80% of all glass]) that were hand-blown and had applied string rims. This manner of manufacture was common throughout the 18th century and into the early 19th century, so these bottles could reflect beverage consumption during either the Waln occupation or the early tavern period. A small number of fragments from tumblers and stemware (35 fragments [3.5%]) reflect consumption of the contents of the bottles by residents and/or tavern visitors.
The domestic and tavern-related ceramic assemblage is summarized in Table C.4 and selectively illustrated in Plate B.15. The collection is dominated by sherds of utilitarian redware (340 sherds [39%]), which was manufactured and widely used throughout the late 18th and 19th centuries. Whiteware (107 sherds [12%]) and ironstone china (79 sherds [9%]), the next two most prolific categories, are common mid- and late 19th-century ceramic types and almost certainly date from the period of the tavern, not the earlier dwelling. Conversely, the 74 sherds (8.5%) of creamware are more likely to have been from tablewares used by the Walns. Other distinctively 19th-century ceramic types, and therefore probably tavern-related, include yellowware (68 sherds [8%]), while there are small quantities of several typical 18th-century wares, notably refined redware (6 sherds), tin-enameled ware (18 sherds), white salt-glazed stoneware (2 sherds) and Whieldonware (4 sherds). Other ceramic types represented in the collection, such as earthenware, pearlware, porcelain, red-bodied slipware, semi-porcelain and stoneware (separate from sherds assigned to the Rhodes pottery) are less easily assigned to domestic or tavern use because their dates of manufacture span both periods of site usage. One particular ceramic item of note is a fragment of a molded porcelain animal which appears similar in form to the porcelain “foo dog” used as a finial knob on lidded cider pitchers from the end of the 18th into the early 19th century (Schiffer 1975:159).
A few other comments may be offered concerning the other domestic and tavern-related artifacts. Building materials, such as window glass, nails and brick fragments, account for only 6% of the assemblage. This seems disproportionately low when considering the various construction phases that have taken place on the property and may be the result of field collection strategies. Other artifacts of specific interest in the domestic and tavern-related assemblage are illustrated in Plate B.16 and include a toothbrush, a cork, a pair of pliers, several wire-wound glass beads, a piece of turquoise, a George I copper coin dated 1723, a copper alloy button, a clay marble and several clay pipe fragments. Three of the pipe stem fragments exhibit impressed marks: two with the word “GERMANY”; and the third with the letters “…OTLAN…” for Scotland. It is unclear if the four blue glass wire-wound beads represent trade goods.
B. ARTIFACTS FROM JAMES RHODES’ STONEWARE POTTERY
Careful examination of the artifact assemblage allowed the separation of a substantial body of material that could be confidently linked to the manufacture of stoneware pottery in close to proximity to the Eagle Tavern property. Concurrent archival study, detailed in Section 2.D above, indicated that these artifacts were associated with a pottery operated by James Rhodes on the neighboring property to the north between 1778 and 1784. Ultimately, the archival data demonstrated that a narrow strip of ground lying just within the present-day northwestern boundary of the current Eagle Tavern lot had, in fact, been part of the Rhodes property. The bulk of the stoneware kiln-related materials and pottery wasters appear to have been found in this northwestern part of the modern lot, including possible traces of a kiln near to the fence line just to the southwest of an air conditioning unit positioned outside the western corner of the tavern building (Figure A.14, Location A01).
The following pages summarize and analyze the close to 2,000 artifacts that derive from James Rhodes’ stoneware pottery. These materials are used to broadly characterize the operations and output of the pottery, with many comparisons being made to the William Richards’ stoneware pottery in Lamberton where James Rhodes is believed to have worked immediately prior to setting up his own pottery works on his Queen Street (South Broad Street) property. Three principal categories of material are recognized: kiln debris (pieces of kiln structure), kiln furniture (items used in stacking pottery vessels inside the kiln during firing) and pottery wasters (misfired or otherwise defective pieces of pottery vessels). The kiln debris and kiln furniture are summarized in Table C.5 and illustrated in Plates B.17-B.22; the pottery wasters in Table C.6 and Plates B.23-B.26. All items are individually cataloged in Appendix D.
1. Kiln Debris
Out of a total of 75 brick fragments recovered from the Eagle Tavern excavations, 44 pieces exhibit a thick green glaze (Table C.5). These pieces are considered to be parts of an actual kiln structure, with the glaze accumulating on the surface of the bricks as a result of successive kiln firings. Many of these glazed bricks were recovered from the location designated as A01 immediately southwest of the air conditioning unit outside the western corner of the tavern building. From incidental references included in the field notes, it appears that some of the bricks found in this area were retrieved from an in-situ structure, which in all likelihood was a stoneware pottery kiln. No details are available concerning the configuration of this kiln, but it is likely to have displayed some similarities to the kiln recently documented at William Richards’ stoneware pottery on the Lamberton waterfront (Hunter Research, Inc. forthcoming).
2. Kiln Furniture
“Kiln furniture” is the term used to describe a range of items fashioned out of clay that are used to support, separate and elevate vessels inside the firing chamber of a pottery kiln. Their usage helps to ensure uniform heating and cooling during the firing process. Particular care is required in arranging the vessels within a stoneware pottery kiln so that they do not fuse together during the salt glazing process and yet still receive the necessary amount of heat and exposure to the salt vapor. The most common items of kiln furniture recovered from the Eagle Tavern property are the protective containers, referred to as saggars, in which vessels are placed during firing. The excavations also recovered a limited sample of expediently formed, small pieces of clay, typically referred to as pads, props and wads, which are used to separate and position vessels and saggars more precisely within the kiln.
In all, some 944 artifacts classified as kiln furniture were collected during the Eagle Tavern excavations. The kiln furniture assemblage, summarized in Table C.5, comprises the following: saggars (861 pieces); saggar lids (26 pieces); pads (12); wads (10); pillows (4); props (17); various fragments too small to positively assign to a functional category (5); and generally unclassifiable pieces (9).
Saggars and Saggar Lids: Saggars, also referred to in Britain as “slugs,” are heavy, thick-walled cylindrical containers, often fashioned from lower quality refractory clay, that are used to protect more delicate thin-walled pottery vessels in the kiln during firing, both from direct exposure to intense heat, and from damage from flying debris emanating from wood fuel and vessel failures in the firing chamber (Britton 1990:90). Packed saggars are typically stacked inside the kiln firing chamber in columns, referred to as “bungs,” with the top of the column being capped with a solid, circular, disk-like stoneware lid attached by wads (Cheek 2002:2). The gaps between saggars and between the lid and rim of the uppermost saggar ensure adequate circulation of heat and salt vapors.
No complete intact saggars were recovered from the Eagle Tavern property, but many of the fragments were mended to provide full dimensions for several different types of these containers. Some pieces show evidence of multiple firings, while others appear to have been fired only once. Multiple firing is evidenced by thick agglutinated glaze and excessive warping, which strongly imply saggar re-use (Plate B.17).
Based chiefly on the diameter, height and telltale glaze characteristics of the saggars represented in the Eagle Tavern assemblage, the types of vessels most likely to have been fired in these protective containers at the James Rhodes pottery are mugs/tankards, porringers and possibly small ointment jars. Four distinct sizes of saggars were identified displaying diameters of four, six, seven and ten inches. The two larger saggar sizes are similar in form and function to saggars excavated at the William Richards pottery, where five main saggar sizes were recognized. Saggars with diameters of five, seven to eight, and ten inches found at the Richards pottery were also noted as being similar in size to those found at the Yorktown stoneware pottery in Virginia (Quimby 1973:310-311; Hunter Research, Inc. forthcoming). Saggars recovered from the early/mid-18th-century Duché pottery in Philadelphia also include open-ended stackers and show a wider range of sizes (six, seven-and-a-half, eight, 11, 12 and 13 inches), probably reflecting a more diverse product line.
The two main saggar types identified within the Rhodes assemblage, termed here single tankard saggars and multi-vessel saggars, also closely resemble saggars from the Richards pottery in their venting characteristics. The sides of these saggars are vented with a series of roughly oval-shaped cut-outs, while two or three, shallow notches (also sometimes formed as shallow, rounded gouges) are cut out along the tops of the rims. The rims of the single tankard saggars are also cut with one deeper U-shaped groove or slit, designed to accommodate a vessel handle. In all of these instances, a knife or other sharp instrument would have been used to carve out these features while the saggars were in a leather-hard state, before they were fired. The cut-outs, notches and grooves all serve the important function of facilitating the flow of air and salt glaze around the vessel enclosed within the saggar (Barka et al. 1984:478; Cheek 2002:3). Notches in the rims were probably also helpful when prying apart saggars that had fused together during salt glazing.
The most common saggar type in the Rhodes assemblage is the single tankard saggar (Plate B.17), which is recognizable from no less than 349 mostly large sherds that are from containers ranging between 6.6 and seven inches in height and six to seven inches in diameter. These saggars would each have held a single tankard six inches high and four inches in diameter, a type of vessel that is represented in the product assemblage recovered from the site. A slightly larger version of the single tankard saggar (ranging between 7.2 to 9.25 inches in height and seven to eight inches in diameter) was also the most common type of saggar identified at the Richards pottery. Saggars of similar size, believed to have been used exclusively for tankards or mugs, were being used by William Rogers at the Yorktown pottery in Virginia (Barka et al. 1984:546). An inventory compiled in 1821 of Abraham and Andrew Miller’s redware pottery in Philadelphia also notes purpose-built quart and pint mug saggars as being a type of saggar that was distinct from “large” saggars (Myers 1980:98).
One of the single tankard saggars in the Rhodes assemblage exhibits what may be viewed as superfluous ornamentation in the form of an elliptical or “eye”-shaped cut-out positioned close to the long U-shaped groove (Plate B.18). A partially mended saggar from the Richards pottery was embellished with heart-shaped cut-outs, while a small number of saggars from the Yorktown pottery have fine incised lines on the entire outside wall (Barka et al. 1984:478). Most likely, such displays of informal artistic expression merely helped to relieve the potter’s boredom while engaged in the repetitious task of saggar making.
The larger ten-inch-diameter saggars in the Rhodes assemblage would each have housed three smaller diameter tankards or mugs (Plate B.19). These triple tankard saggars are 5.5 to 5.75 inches high, as opposed to the single tankard saggars which have an average height of seven inches. The reduced height reflects the smaller-sized tankards contained by these saggars. Although only a few fragments of these smaller mugs were recovered, their height may be deduced from evidence of their becoming fused to the exterior of the bases of saggars stacked above. The two most complete examples of this saggar type show no signs of the long U-shaped grooves for the vessel handles. A similar-sized saggar from the Richards pottery exhibited shadows indicating that each tankard was positioned with its handle facing one of its neighbors, creating a pinwheel-like pattern. This vessel arrangement within the saggar removed the need for the deep U-shaped notches and thus would have increased the stability of the saggar sidewalls. However, the three most complete examples of this multi-vessel saggar type in the Rhodes assemblage all have slumped sidewalls, presumably caused by the weight of the ten-inch saggars stacked above combined with the intense heat of the kiln.
The other two saggar types identified in the Rhodes assemblage are both smaller than the single tankard and multi-vessel saggars described above and they are noticeably smaller than any of the saggars found at the Richards pottery (Plate B.20). They also have a distinctive red body and a light patchy salt glaze suggesting that they were made from a different clay body. The larger of these two other saggar types has a height of only two inches and measures six to 6.5 inches in diameter. These dimensions and the shadows on the interior do not match with any particular vessel form recovered from the Eagle Tavern property. Although much shorter in height, these saggars have a similar diameter to the single tankard saggars, which would have allowed them to have been stacked on top of the taller tankard saggars. The rim notches on these saggars are notable for being more roughly cut, while the cut-outs in the body are round in shape. The final saggar type is smaller still and represented by a total of 36 sherds. This sagger appears to have been used for firing vessels roughly two inches in height and four inches in diameter. Again, even after close examination of the pottery wasters collected from the Eagle Tavern property, the type of vessel fired in these small saggars could not be determined.
In addition to the many saggar fragments recovered, 26 sherds of saggar lids are also present in the Rhodes assemblage. These lids all take the form of flat circular disks with diameters ranging from seven to nine inches and thicknesses ranging between half an inch and one inch (Plate B.21). The lids are all wheel-thrown with rounded edges, but little consideration seems to have been given to standardizing their appearance. One fragment bears a series of incised parallel lines overlapping to form some type of geometric design on one surface (Plate B.22, top row). This particular saggar lid fragment is strikingly similar to a partially mended example with a similar incised design from the Richards pottery (Hunter Research, Inc. forthcoming]. Two other broken saggar body fragments merit particular comment. These pieces have wads or shadows of wads adhered to both surfaces, which is evidence of their having been re-used as spacers (Plate B.22, third row). The wad attached to the original interior surface of one of these saggar fragments exhibits the impression of a rounded saggar rim, while on the exterior surface there is a flattened wad that has been compressed by the weight of the saggar or vessel base stacked above.
Pads, Pillows, Props and Wads: The smaller pieces of kiln furniture found on the Eagle Tavern property were all formed using grey-bodied stoneware clay. The surfaces which would have been in direct contact with vessels or saggars were coated with sand to make them more refractory during firings. The sand coating may have been applied when the pieces were newly made and still wet, since in this malleable state pieces could be further shaped and positioned as needed during stacking. The majority of these pads, pillows, props and wads were likely preformed prior to the loading of the kiln, although a few examples may have been produced on the spot to facilitate makeshift stacking. Pads, pillows, props and wads were intended for one-time use only and would have been discarded after each firing. This contrasts with saggars, which required a much greater investment in time and material, and which were used repeatedly until they were no longer functional.
Pads are small, square or rectangular, flat forms used to stack vessels inside saggars, also preventing them from adhering to the saggar base during the salt glazing process (Plate B.22, second row). Although fragmentary the most complete examples of pads in the Rhodes assemblage are 0.3 inches thick and range between 2.3 to 1.6 inches in length and 1.2 to 1.7 inches in width. The pads are sanded on both flat surfaces to prevent the vessel from sticking to the interior of the saggar. At the nearby Richards pottery the interiors of several saggar bases displayed shadows from contact with sanded pads.
Pillows are a distinct kiln furniture form used to support a vessel and prevent its base or rim from fusing to neighboring vessels during firing. They are sometimes pre-formed, but they are just as likely to have been fashioned expediently as the kiln was being loaded. Two examples of pre-formed pillows are represented in the Rhodes assemblage. One is similar to a type of pillow, sometimes referred to as an L- or V-shaped wad, identified at the nearby Richards pottery and in the waster dumps at the Warne and Letts Pottery in Cheesequake, Middlesex County, New Jersey (Hunter Research, Inc. 1996:Figure 6.1). The other example is a flattened U-shaped form, similar to the crescent shape (Plate B.22, bottom row). Two makeshift pillows were also identified in the Rhodes assemblage, both consisting of irregularly shaped clay patties with pinched marks and finger prints. One of the patties still adheres to a piece of a saggar base.
Props, like pillows, are used to help stack and separate vessels and saggars in the firing chamber and, again, they are sometimes pre-formed, but may also be fashioned makeshift as the kiln is being loaded. Pre-formed props in the Rhodes assemblage are of two main types: thick, cut, curved rectangular props designed to stand on edge (usually sanded on top and bottom surfaces); and long, cut, straight rectangular forms (square in cross-section; some with linear indentations on one surface) (Plate B.22, fourth and bottom rows).
Wads are small pieces of clay placed on the rim of a saggar to separate it from the base of the saggar stacked immediately above. In addition to preventing saggars from sticking to one another, wads also created a gap through which heat and salt glaze could circulate more freely around vessels within their containers. Their characteristic saddle shape is the result of clay conforming to shape of rim. Typically, three wads were positioned on the rim of each saggar, as evidenced on numerous saggar rims and bases from the Richards pottery which have shadows and wad fragments adhering to their surfaces. Individual wads and saggar sherds with attached wads are both included in the Rhodes assemblage (Plate B.22, third row).
Finally, of particular note, are two unidentified items of kiln furniture, which appear to be fragments of kiln shelves (Plate B.22, top row). One of the fragments is a broken mid-section that exhibits glaze over all of its broken edges. The other sherd is thinner and square, cut along an unbroken edge.
3. Pottery Wasters
In all, a total of 880 waster sherds from stoneware pottery vessels are included in the Rhodes assemblage (Table C.6). It should be cautioned that the small sample of stoneware products discussed here is likely to contain disproportionate amounts of certain ware types, notably those that failed during the kiln’s last firing, and perhaps also those that were not protected by saggars. The probability is therefore that many additional vessel forms were manufactured at James Rhodes’ stoneware pottery and are not represented in the recovered assemblage.
The following discussion of the pottery wasters is built upon the comprehensive examination, mending and cataloging of the various individual sherds, and focuses primarily on the 157 specimens that are attributable to specific identifiable vessel forms. Unlike the saggars a much smaller percentage of the pottery waster sherds can be mended into recognizable forms. The identification of the forms described here also draws heavily on the extensive mending and research at the nearby William Richards pottery, where 19 different vessel forms were identified (Hunter Research, Inc. forthcoming). Much of the following analysis focuses on identifying the vessel forms from the Rhodes assemblage through a comparison with similar more complete examples excavated at the site of the Richards pottery.
Twelve principal salt-glazed stoneware vessel forms, within some of which there is considerable variation in shape and size, are recognized. The analytical framework and nomenclature used below are modeled after the classificatory system developed by Norman Barka and others in their treatment of the ceramic assemblage recovered from the kiln of the so-called “Poor Potter” at Yorktown (Barka et al. 1984:343-503). Adoption of this template facilitates comparative study with the most comprehensively examined and reported American stoneware assemblage hitherto subjected to archaeological inquiry. Also referenced in the following discussion are stoneware pottery wasters found not only at the William Richards pottery but also at the nearby Lambert/Douglas House Site (located a few hundred feet upstream in front of the present-day Katmandu Restaurant).
The 12 recognizable stoneware vessel forms in the Rhodes assemblage range from basic utilitarian wares, such as storage jars and jugs, to somewhat more refined pitchers, footed saucers and bowls. There is a clear dominance of hollow wares over flat wares, which is considered less the result of a bias toward the failure of these vessel types during firing, and perhaps more likely a result of stoneware being well suited for the manufacture of these types of vessels. Indeed, as one prominent stoneware expert notes (Gaimster 1997:117), the function and variability of stoneware “is directly related to its technical, physical and typological properties. By virtue of its robust, highly durable, non-porous body and stain- and odour-free surface, stoneware is particularly suited to the transportation, storage, drinking and decanting of liquids and to preservation, pharmaceutical and sanitary purposes.”
Furthermore, with some standardization of liquid measures in place in the American colonies in the 18th century, some degree of consistency in size and capacity might be expected for hollow ware containers in the Rhodes assemblage. Indeed, from a purely practical standpoint, it was to a potter’s advantage to standardize vessels, as they could then be stacked more easily and economically in the kiln (not to mention during shipment and when stored on commercial and residential premises). Based on the exhaustive analyses of John Dwight’s Fulham Pottery in London, however, some variation should be expected, but expert throwers were still able to regulate the size of pots quite effectively by using a weighted piece of clay, and raising the vessel form until its lip reached the tip of a stick set in position above the wheel (Green 1999:287).
All of the stoneware vessel forms in the Rhodes product assemblage were produced using grey-bodied stoneware clay. Rhodes was also using a brown clay slip glaze on some of the vessels he was producing. Traditionally, the latter coating is referred to as Albany slip and is usually thought to be a product of the early to mid-19th century. However, the Rhodes material, and other 18th-century pottery waster deposits, such as those at the Richards pottery and the Cheesequake potteries in Middlesex County, New Jersey, demonstrate that a brown clay slip glaze was being used by American stoneware potters at least by the third quarter of the 18th century (Hunter Research, Inc. 1996).
Decoration of the Rhodes stoneware products made use of four main techniques: brushed (or painted) patterns; incised (or scratch) cobalt blue designs; stamped coggling; and sprig molding. The brushed decoration typically makes use of interlocking, opposite-facing “C”s, spirals and a fleur-de-lis motif. Only one example of incised cobalt blue decoration is present in the assemblage – a body sherd with a floral motif featuring double-lobed or heart-shaped petals surrounded by a stamped coggled “penny” medallion. Sprig-molded decoration is also represented by a single sherd – a specimen with an unusually distinctive Bellarmine-like face, which has also made its appearance at the William Richards pottery (discussed further below). At the nearby Lambert/Douglas House Site, archaeological data recovery excavations yielded a small stoneware sprig mold. This mold has multiple crossed lines that form a shallow dandelion-like flower, but to date not a single sherd bearing this particular decoration has been recovered from either the Rhodes or Richards pottery sites.
Hollow Wares for Liquids and Beverages
Tankards/Mugs [22 sherds]: These cylindrical drinking vessels have flat bottoms with almost vertical sides that taper slightly inward towards the mouth. Most of the sherds recovered are from the vessel base and lower body. This vessel form may have had a hand-formed strap handle, since various sized handle fragments were recovered (unfortunately none of these mend to tankard fragments within the assemblage). Tankard or mugs, usually used for consumption of beer, ale and perhaps cider, were made in small and large sizes as evidenced by the differing heights of the saggars and by mended examples from the Richards pottery. The smallest base fragment has a projected diameter of three inches, a measurement consistent with the typical small tankard recovered from the Richards pottery. Six tankard base sherds have diameters ranging from four to 4.5 inches, matching the dimensions of the larger tankards from the Richards kiln pottery (Plate B.23, third row). A similar twofold distinction between small and large tankards was evident in the assemblage from the kiln of the “Poor Potter” at Yorktown.
Decorative treatment of the exterior surfaces of tankards/mugs in the Rhodes assemblage is typified by cordoning (or reeding) near the base and below the rim (sometimes infilled with cobalt blue). A few of the fragments have a dark brown appearance, possibly due to the application of a brown slip or wash.
Jugs/Bottles [34 sherds]: Attribution of the term “jug” to this class of vessel in the Richards catalog is based on 19th- and 20th-century vessel classification systems developed for utilitarian wares (Greer 1999; Ketchum 1991a, 1991b). A more appropriate term for these vessels, in use during the 18th century, is “bottle.” Archaeologists analyzing the products of the kiln of the “Poor Potter” at Yorktown define these vessels as “a bulbous bodied vessel with a small mouth and cordoned rim, a narrow neck, a flat base, and one handle applied just below the rim and to the shoulder” (Barka et al. 1984:357). Christopher Green, in considering the products of John Dwight’s Fulham pottery in London, expands on this definition slightly to include vessels with a bulbous rim, a short neck and a strap handle (Green 1999:63, 151-153).
Like tankards, jugs/bottles, as represented in the Rhodes assemblage, appear to have been manufactured in two main sizes as indicated by differences in the size of shoulder fragments (Plate B.24). Neither sized vessel could be mended to provide a full profile. Jug/bottle fragments from the Rhodes assemblage show the same heavy rounded lip opening as found on similar vessels from the Richards pottery. These vessels have a short tooled neck and an ovoid body with a tapering handle finish (Plate B.25, second row).
Small stoneware bottles or jugs, popular on 17th-century tables, were gradually succeeded by less expensive glass containers in the 18th century. Green suggests that the small jugs retained their typical 17th-century form into the 18th century and were used for the consumption of “ale and other drinks.” He further suggests that, in addition to serving as beverage containers, the larger size jugs in England were being used for wholesale and retail distribution of spirits, oils, varnish, turpentine and color or paint (Green 1999:40-41, 153).
Several shoulder and body fragments in the Rhodes assemblage display a brown glazed exterior, possibly the result of a brown slip or wash being applied prior to firing. A few of the shoulder fragments show evidence of the top half of the vessel being dipped into a brown slip (liquid clay) solution, as indicated by a distinct band on the vessel body just below the shoulder. This type of finish was commonplace on English brown stoneware vessels of this period.
Pitchers [3 sherds]: A single ovoid pitcher was identified within the Rhodes assemblage. This vessel was represented by three mended shoulder fragments, one of which includes part of a straight collared rim, while another has an applied, sprig-molded Bellarmine-like face (Plate B.26). The identification of these fragments as being part of a pitcher was confirmed through comparison with a partially mended example with brushed spiral decoration from the nearby Richards pottery. Excavations at the Richards pottery also yielded three sherds with similar sprig-molded faces, although these were linked with reasonable confidence to the jug/bottle as opposed to the pitcher vessel form (Liebeknecht and Hunter 2003:259-261; Hunter Research, Inc. forthcoming).
The newly discovered face sherd from the Eagle Tavern site is very similar to the Richards examples, but also shows some significant minor differences. All the faces lack the hair usually associated with faces from European Bellarmine jugs, and in all cases the tongues protruding from the mouth and the eyes are lenticular (although slightly off center on the Rhodes face). Unlike the Richards faces, however, the mouth on the Rhodes face is located further down the face, away from the nose, leaving a noticeable gap between the nose and the mouth, giving the face an elongated appearance. The Rhodes face also appears to be slightly out of proportion, which is probably the result of its being stretched over the curving shoulder of the pitcher, as opposed to the Richards faces that were mounted higher up on a flatter section of the jug shoulder. The Rhodes face tends to have less molded detail as evidenced by the incised eyebrows. All in all, there are sufficient differences between the faces in the two assemblages that they probably were derived from two different, although closely similar, molds.
In summary, the pitcher with the sprig-molded Bellarmine-like face recovered from the Rhodes pottery is of particular importance since it extends the range of vessel forms on which this distinctive and rare style of decoration has been found. Furthermore it provides a strong link between the Rhodes and Richards potteries, almost certainly indicating that James Rhodes was the master potter at both sites and the individual responsible for fashioning these vessels with this distinctive decoration. The small number of face decorated sherds recovered from these two pottery manufacturing sites may also indicate limited production of a special order item and, on this basis, pitchers and jugs decorated in this manner should be both sparsely represented and quite recognizable in ceramic collections and archaeological assemblages. To the best of our knowledge, applied sprig-molded face decoration on 18th-century stoneware jugs and pitchers has not been documented archaeologically or historically anywhere else in North America.
Hollow Wares for Liquids and Semi-Solid Foods
Porringers [4 sherds]: Identification of the porringer fragments was based on three base sherds, each with a flared, tooled foot, similar to mended examples from the Richards pottery (Plate B.23, third row) Throughout the mid- to late 18th century porringers served as personal vessels used for consumption of foods, such as, broth, soup, stew or porridge.
Porringers manufactured at the Richards pottery have a short bulbous body, flat-footed base and a slightly everted rim. The center of the base is recessed, a trait commonly found in Philadelphia-style redware porringers. Examples in the Rhodes assemblage exhibit base diameters of 1.6, 2.5 and three inches, suggesting a wider range of sizes than found at the Richards pottery where most of the bases measured 2.5 inches. Small vertical strap handles may have been attached to one side, although no handles have been identified that can be clearly associated with this vessel type. Some of the porringer fragments from the Richards pottery were decorated with a simple brushed cobalt motif, but this style of decoration was not distinguished on the small sample from the Rhodes pottery. One of the base sherds features a brown slip on the exterior and a grey salt glazed interior.
Bowls [8 sherds]: The rim and body sherds identified as parts of bowls in the Rhodes assemblage are characterized as circular concave containers with curved out-sloping walls, and pronounced everted or curled rims (Plate B.23, third row). Mended examples from the Richards assemblage feature turned foot rings. The projected rim diameter of nine inches on the two most complete examples matches one of the three sizes identified at the Richards pottery. The bowl fragments in the Rhodes assemblage are undecorated except for a few sherds with a lightly tooled groove on the exterior below the rim.
Very similar examples of stoneware bowls and dishes were also recovered from the excavations at the “Poor Potter” kiln site in Yorktown, Virginia (Barka et al. 1984:366-373), while Ketchum (1991b:17) discusses a similar redware example, noting that it would have been used in preparing, serving and eating soup, stew, porridge and other similar foods. Except for the everted rims the form is also similar to that of Chinese porcelain bowls. Chinese-style redware bowls from Philadelphia are thought to have been used as slop bowls for tea leaf dregs, or as individual vessels for consuming liquids or semi-liquid foods (Louis Berger & Associates, Inc. 1997:V-55).
Pans [16 sherds]: In the analysis of the Rhodes assemblage, pans, also sometimes referred to as nappies or basins, were distinguished from other vessel types on the basis of their large size and lack of handles (Plate B.23, second row). An inventory compiled in 1789 at the Bethabara pottery in North Carolina uses the term “pan” to describe large dishes and shallow bowls of similar type that have no handle (South 1999:230). These cylindrical vessels exhibit wide out-flaring sides with thickened, flat or everted rims. No decorative treatments are present on sherds from these vessels in the Rhodes assemblage.
The exact function of this vessel type is uncertain, although at Franklin Court in Philadelphia a current display suggests that the larger pans were used as receptacles for discarding bones at the dinner table. As the sample from the Rhodes assemblage is so small and fragmentary, another plausible explanation may be that they served as milk pans and the pouring lip portion of the vessel no longer survives.
Tea Saucer [2 sherds]: Tea saucers, used for consumption of tea (i.e., as a substitute for a teacup), are small, shallow, wheel-thrown vessels with foot rings (Plate B.23, third row). The two adjoining tea saucer base sherds in the Rhodes assemblage indicate a vessel with a hand-tooled foot ring formed on the wheel after the initial throwing of the vessel. Similar saucers with tooled foot rings were produced by Gottfried Aust at Bethabara in North Carolina between 1755 and 1771 (South 1999:256). The interior of the Rhodes specimen has brushed cobalt blue blotches, similar to several examples from the Richards pottery. A stoneware tea saucer with similar decorative design was also recovered from the nearby Lambert/Douglas House Site (Hunter Research, Inc. forthcoming).
Pipkin [3 sherds]: Fragments of two pipkins are identifiable within the Rhodes assemblage. One rim fragment has an internal lid seat with a pouring lip (Plate B.23, top row). Based on the inside diameter of the rim lid-seat, the projected diameter of this vessel is just under five inches.
Pipkins were generally used for cooking foods like stews, beans, soups and meats that required prolonged heating at a moderately low temperature in a manner similar to that used in a modern-day slow cooker. They could also serve as temporary storage receptacles (Ketchum 1983:128).
Dairy and Kitchen Vessels
Milk Pans [1 sherd]: For the purposes of this analysis a milk pan is distinguished from other pans based on the presence of a pouring lip. This distinction in part follows Ketchum (1987:33), who defines milk pans as being larger than ten inches in rim diameter and having a heavily rolled rim. In the case of the Rhodes example the rim is flattened as opposed to the heavily rolled variety. Additional milk pan sherds may also have been cataloged under the category of pan. No decoration is evident on either the one identified milk pan or any of the other pans.
Milk pans are also known as cream setting pans, since they were often used for separating cream from milk. Although stoneware was a more durable pottery fabric, cheaper redwares occupied a larger share of the domestic market when it came to producing ceramic milk pans during the 18th century.
Jars [32 sherds]: The Rhodes assemblage contains two types of jars or “pots,” probably in a variety of sizes. The first and more commonly represented type consists of a wide-mouthed, tall ovoid form with cordoning below the rim and along the base (Plate B.24). A few of the sherds of this jar type are decorated with brushed cobalt blue motifs including a fleur-de-lis and a wavy band over a handle attachment fleur-de-lis. Examples of two types of handle attachments - a vertical loop and a cupped lug – are evident on this jar form. This differs from similar shaped jars from the Richards pottery where the majority of these vessels have lug type handles, a few have horizontal loops, but none have vertical loops. However, the Rhodes vessels are notable for having thickened, flattened and slightly everted rims that are similar to those excavated from the Richards pottery. One other characteristic evident on some of the Rhodes jars that is not apparent in the Richards assemblage is the presence of an internal lid ledge positioned just below the rim on several sherds. Several flat disk-shaped lid fragments with diameters ranging from seven to 12 inches were probably made to cover this particular jar form. One of the lid fragments features a round knob type of finial decorated with dabs of brushed cobalt blue, although the diameter of this lid could not be established. Based on the large size of the finial it was probably intended to cover a large jar (Plate B.23, bottom row). The second type of jar represented in the Rhodes assemblage is a cylindrical form with straight sides and a restricted neck, represented by body and shoulder fragments. As noted at the Richards pottery, none of the sherds assigned as belonging to cylindrical jars exhibit any discernible decoration.
Through the 18th century, as the public became more aware of the dangers of using lead glazed earthenware for food storage, the popularity of nonporous salt-glazed stoneware storage jars increased (Ketchum 1991b:8; Green 1999:41). Based on archaeological data, the production of jars at the Fulham Pottery in London was considered a “sideline” until around 1725, after which stoneware jars began to emerge as a staple product rivaling tankards and jugs in importance (Green 1999:157). In the second half of the 18th century the production of cylindrical storage vessels increased considerably on both sides of the Atlantic. Undecorated cylindrical jars, while frequently used for storing specialized goods like sugared or sugared-and-brandied fruit preserves, were also used as containers for commonplace dairy products such as souring cream, butter or lard (Beaudry et al. 1983:36).
Health and Hygiene-Related Forms
Chamber Pots [2 sherds]: These two body sherds in the Rhodes assemblage were identified as being parts of chamber pots based on more complete, partially mended examples from the Richards pottery. Chamber pots are typically flat-bottomed, open, circular vessels with curved walls and an everted flat lip. A strap handle is typically attached flush to the sturdy rim, its lower end terminating in a “squab” type finish (Green 1999:123).
Both sherds contain remnants of the cordoning found near the rim and base and are roughly brushed with cobalt blue pigment. One sherd is of particular interest in that it has a central motif consisting of an incised double lobed flower enclosed within a penny coggle surrounded by double lobed petals, all of which have been brushed with cobalt blue pigment (Plate B.25, top row). This type of motif was identified on two mended chamber pots from the Richards pottery and is considered to be one of the more characteristic decorations identified with that kiln site.
When one considers their contents, the exterior decorative treatment of chamber pots may seem rather superfluous; however, when one considers where these vessels would have been placed in the house or tavern, the appropriateness of such decoration is more readily understood. In most homes, chamber pots were left under the bed in the center of the bedroom in plain view (bed skirts were not common in the 18th century). Chamber pots were also used in the dining room where they were stored in commodes (Noel Hume 2001:77). In taverns, chamber pots were often placed on the floor behind screens, but where they were still within relatively easy view.
Two vessel fragments from previously unidentified forms merit further comment. One is a handle fragment from a large hollow ware form with an unusual short carved post or stump type attachment (Plate B.25, second row). A small fragment of the vessel is adhered to the handle and features a marbled or agate-like body. The other piece is a fragment of a straight cylinder which is solid except for a pin-sized perforation that runs the length of the sherd (Plate B.25, bottom row). This piece appears to have been carefully carved down to even out the exterior surfaces.
5. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Over the years the Eagle Tavern property has been the subject of numerous archival studies, the building has been thoroughly examined and recorded in some detail, and the ground in and around the tavern building has been probed and subjected to archaeological excavation. Not all of these earlier activities have been fully reported, while earlier conclusions and interpretations about the history of the property are often conflicting and obtuse. The historical and archaeological analysis presented in this report clarifies several areas of confusion concerning this important Trenton landmark and brings to the forefront several potentially fruitful areas for future research. It also serves the valuable purpose of providing a limited summary of the archaeological investigations carried out on the property between 1976 and 1981, before the results of this work are entirely lost to human memory, along with a catalog of the bulk of the artifacts unearthed by these excavations.
From the standpoint of historical and archival research, the current study has been able to consider the history of the Eagle Tavern property within the context of recently completed historical assessments of other nearby properties in the Bloomsbury/Mill Hill area of South Trenton, most notably those held by the Waln family in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In particular, detailed historical analyses of the Eagle Factory (Hunter Research, Inc. 2004), the South Broad Street bridge (Hunter Research, Inc. 2003a) and the Mill Hill section of Assunpink Creek (Hunter Research, Inc. 2002), in all of which the Walns figure prominently, paint a rich backcloth against which the history of the Eagle Tavern property may be viewed. In a similar, but lesser vein, the comprehensive historical research undertaken in connection with the recent reconstruction of N.J. Route 29, which concentrated on the land use history of the Delaware riverbank from the mouth of the Assunpink to Riverview Cemetery, also helps to fill out the historical context of the Eagle Tavern property.
The older, southeastern portion of the building today known as the Eagle Tavern was erected by Robert Waln in 1765 or very shortly thereafter. Waln, a Philadelphia merchant and prominent Quaker, acquired the Eagle Tavern parcel in this year around the same time that he purchased the valuable Trenton Mills tract, located a short distance to the north at the Queen (South Broad Street) crossing of Assunpink Creek. Prior to this date, the Trenton Mills, one of the largest gristmill operations in the region, had always been part of the substantial colonial plantation centered on the fine brick mansion today known as the William Trent House. While the sizeable mill tract acquired by Waln probably included a miller’s house and other dwellings in addition to the mills, it did not boast a residence suitable for habitation by the well-to-do Waln family. The current research hypothesizes that the older section of the Eagle Tavern, perhaps with a lesser wing appended to the northwest (a predecessor to the present northwestern three bays), was built as a residence intended for occupation by Robert Waln and his family when they were in Trenton attending to their real estate and business interests. The location of the building at the corner of South Broad and Ferry Streets is not without relevance. This would have been a choice spot in the proto-urban landscape of South Trenton, lying roughly mid-way between the mills and the wharves where Waln would have landed upon arriving from Philadelphia.
From the mid-1760s through into the early 19th century the Walns nurtured their commercial and industrial investments in Trenton during which time the dwelling on the Eagle Tavern property likely served as an important social and residential hub of their operations. During the tense early years of the Revolutionary War, especially from late 1776 until mid-1778, the Walns were constrained in the development and use of their Trenton holdings and probably spent much of their time in Philadelphia. Following Robert Waln’s death in 1784, the dwelling at the head of Ferry Street was inherited by his daughter Hannah, wife of the local industrialist and entrepreneur, Gideon Wells. The house may well have served as the principal residence of Hannah and Gideon Wells, although clear confirmation of this is still required. Together, Hannah and Gideon continued to run the Trenton Mills, but by the early years of the 19th century this facility was a failing concern. Faced with mounting financial problems, the Wells sought the assistance of other members of the Waln family, most notably Hannah’s brother, Robert, Jr., who helped recast the Trenton Mills as the textile manufacturing operation known as the Eagle Factory in the second decade of the 19th century. In the meantime, in 1811, the dwelling on the Eagle Tavern property passed out of Waln/Wells hands, ending this building’s more than four decades of use as a residence.
No evidence has been found for a tavern being in operation in the Waln/Wells dwelling in the 18th century. There are references to an Eagle Tavern being in existence in Trenton in the early years of the 19th century, but documents indicate that these premises were located north of the Assunpink on Warren Street. The first incontrovertible evidence for a tavern at the Eagle Tavern site is provided by an application for a tavern license filed by George Douglass in 1817, although this does not rule out the possibility of a tavern being located here a few years earlier than this. It seems reasonable, however, to regard the tavern as first opening its doors sometime in the second decade of the 19th century following the departure of Gideon Wells and Hannah Waln from the property. Thus, from at least 1817 through into the early 20th century, the Eagle Tavern - or Eagle Hotel, as it was sometimes called – prospered as one of Trenton’s best-known hostelries. It mostly catered to the local community and persons traveling between New York and Philadelphia, and experienced a surge in business in the 1820s, 1830s and 1840s when it was a favored accommodation for patrons of the nearby Eagle Race Course. At some point in these latter decades, probably in the 1830s, the tavern building was expanded to the northwest taking on its present-day seven-bay form. Despite the use of “Eagle” in their names, no formal link has been established between the Eagle Tavern, the Eagle Race Course and the Waln-owned Eagle Factory. Use of this nomenclatural convention was extremely common in the early years of the Republic.
The recognition that the Eagle Tavern began life as an upscale dwelling for the Waln family in the mid-1760s and continued as such for almost half a century is probably the single most important outcome of the current research. The pinning down of the origins of the tavern to the second decade of the 19th century is also significant. Both of these assertions merit further examination and refinement. The current research has not delved systematically through the Waln family papers held by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and we suspect there may be further useful data to be gleaned here, especially concerning the original Waln purchase of the Eagle Tavern lot, the relationship of the original dwelling to the Trenton Mills, the fate of the house during the Revolution, the residents of the house and the circumstances surrounding its eventual sale out of the Waln family in the early 19th century. It is also possible that land records relating to the Waln’s Trenton holdings exist in public archives in Philadelphia. Again, these have not been studied as part of the current research.
The origins of the tavern, while clarified somewhat by the current research, still remain obscure and call out for further study. Burlington County tavern licenses deserve a more detailed examination, but perhaps the most potentially useful source of information is local newspapers. Although time-consuming to peruse, a thorough review of publications, such as the Trenton Federalist, the True American and the Emporium, should turn up informative advertisements and other notices concerning the tavern. The date of the tavern’s enlargement also requires more exhaustive study. Again, newspapers, along with mortgages are likely the most potentially helpful sources in pinning down when the tavern expansion occurred.
Turning next to matters more archaeological, a key point to emerge from the historical research has been that the present northwestern boundary of the Eagle Tavern lot dates only from the first decade of the 20th century, apparently from when the Pennsylvania Railroad right-of-way was adjusted and widened in 1903 to allow for the new (existing Northeast Corridor) rail crossing of the Delaware River. Careful analysis of historic maps and deeds indicates that the property adjoining to the northwest of the Waln dwelling in the late 18th and 19th centuries extended into what is today the tavern’s rear and side yard. The earlier boundary separating these two properties ran roughly parallel to and some ten feet southeast of the fence that presently marks the northwestern edge of the tavern lot. This ten-foot discrepancy perhaps would not arouse much interest were it not for the fact that archaeological remains of considerable interest have been found within the narrow strip of ground involved.
The key owner of this neighboring property to the northwest of the tavern, at least from an archaeological standpoint, was one James Rhodes, a potter, who bought the parcel next to the Waln’s dwelling in 1778. Rhodes, who in recent years has been the subject of intense scrutiny as a possible master potter at William Richards’ stoneware manufactory on the Delaware riverbank in nearby Lamberton, erected his own pottery works on the parcel adjoining the Waln property. This facility was in operation for no more than six years, for Rhodes died in 1784 (the same year as Robert Waln); his heirs sold off his property two years later with no apparent continuation of pottery manufacture at the site. Unfortunately, Rhodes is barely visible in the documentary record and we know little about his early life, where he was born, where he lived, where he acquired his potting expertise and whether he was related to several other potters named Rhodes who figure prominently in Trenton’s late 19th-century pottery industry. These questions beg further archival and genealogical study. It is a long shot perhaps, but it is not impossible that as a neighbor of the Walns engaged in a noxious and incendiary industrial endeavor James Rhodes may make an appearance in the Waln family papers. On the other hand, Rhodes was in business only briefly, mostly during the Revolutionary War years, and this was when the Walns themselves may not have been much in evidence in Trenton.
For all of James Rhodes’ invisibility in the archives, he has left us with an extraordinarily distinctive archaeological imprint, not only in the rear yard of the Eagle Tavern, but also, we believe, at the site of William Richards’ stoneware pottery kiln near the foot of Landing Street in Lamberton. Analysis of the artifacts recovered from the Eagle Tavern excavations in 1976-81 has shown unequivocally that a substantial quantity of stoneware pottery wasters and kiln debris lies within the tavern yard, concentrated mostly along the northwestern edge of the present-day tavern lot (Figure A.14). Excavation field notes, the artifact assemblage and archaeological monitoring currently under way (in August 2005) in connection with ongoing restoration of the tavern exterior all suggest strongly that there may be a partially intact pottery kiln within the portion of the tavern rear yard that used to be part of James Rhodes’ property. Whether or not a kiln actually survives here, and whatever its condition, there is in any event a substantial volume of pottery wasters and kiln-related material still in the ground that can assist in further characterizing the Rhodes pottery operations and products.
On this basis, a critical outcome of the current study is the recognition that the rear yard of the Eagle Tavern, despite its earlier subjection to destructive archaeological excavation, still has immense archaeological potential. While the main focus of archaeological concern should certainly be the northwestern part of the rear yard (i.e., the former Rhodes property), it is important to note that quantities of stoneware and kiln debris were also found further to the southeast within what would have been the rear yard of the Waln property. Presumably redeposited here at a later date, this latter material still has historical and archaeological relevance to our understanding of the Rhodes pottery. The rear yard of the tavern proper has also produced 18th- and 19th-century artifacts that may be associated with the occupation of the tavern and/or the earlier Waln dwelling, although it should be acknowledged that the sites of most of the outbuildings and archaeologically productive features, such as wells, privies and refuse pits, probably lay further to southwest on the rear of the original much larger lot.
Thus, for its potential yield of stoneware wasters and kiln remains dating from the late 1770s and early 1780s, and to a lesser extent, for its potential yield of domestic and tavern-related artifacts, the Eagle Tavern property is deserving of the most sensitive archaeological management in the years to come. Ideally, preservation-in-place of important archaeological deposits such as these is usually desirable, although as a result of earlier excavations and recent restoration-related ground disturbing actions the archaeological record is now somewhat compromised. A reasonable case can therefore be made for limited controlled archaeological excavations at some suitable point in the future with the express purpose of extracting the key remaining data from what is clearly only a partially intact archaeological resource. Such excavations may lend themselves quite effectively to limited community participation, provided they are carried out under professional direction and fully analyzed and reported. In the meantime, we strongly recommend that any future ground disturbance on the property, particularly in the rear yard, be preceded by archaeological testing and, where appropriate, by archaeological data recovery.
The artifact assemblage recovered from the Eagle Tavern excavations of 1976-81, which is thought to be largely complete (some items may still be held in private hands), is now fully cataloged and will shortly be en route to the New Jersey State Museum for safe keeping. Almost half of the assemblage is identifiable as associated with James Rhodes’ stoneware pottery, the other half can more be more loosely defined as derived from occupation of the tavern and earlier dwelling. The Rhodes materials include examples of a range of products being made at the pottery, jugs/bottles, pitchers, jars, mugs/tankards, bowls, pan, saucers, pipkins, porringers and chamber pots, along with items of kiln furniture and kiln structural debris. As a reference collection for scholars and students, ceramic historians, archaeologists and collectors, these materials are of considerable value, serving as a benchmark for understanding the production of a single and singular pottery over a specific, no more than six-year period. While no complete vessels survive, many pieces mend to form recognizable forms, offering opportunities for display, perhaps even within the tavern building when it is returned to a suitable condition and use.
However, the importance of the Rhodes pottery assemblage extends well beyond the limits of the Eagle Tavern property. Comparison of the pottery wasters and kiln debris with materials recovered in May of 2000 from William Richards’ stoneware pottery on the Delaware riverbank in nearby Lamberton shows conclusively, in our view, that James Rhodes was the principal potter at this latter site as well, most likely for a five-year period from 1773 through 1778, prior to his moving on to the property adjacent to the Walns. The vessel forms, styles of decoration (most tellingly the use of applied sprig-molded faces on jugs and pitchers), even the types of saggars - these are all so similar at the two sites that the pottery and kiln furniture product in both instances may be confidently assigned the same James Rhodes signature. In the broader context of American stoneware manufacture in the Middle Atlantic region, indeed along the entire eastern seaboard and perhaps also in the Caribbean, these two Trenton pottery sites are of extraordinary significance. The value of either one of these sites and its archaeological yield as a ceramic reference tool would be important enough on its own, but the combination of two historically linked sites, each testimony to roughly five years of successive production under the hand of a single potter, yields a cultural trove unsurpassed in the archaeological record of American stoneware.