Archaeology in the Gilmore Yard

Research and Collections
 
In July 2002, the Montpelier Archaeology Department hosted an archaeological field school with State University of New York at Potsdam for excavations at the Gilmore Farm.  Immediately below the topsoil, cobblestone pavements were encountered in three areas of the yard: 1) a linear path/road in the eastern yard; 2) a large stone pad in the back yard; and 3) a stone pad in the front yard.  
 
What is unusual about these pavements is their orientation. Instead of being oriented with the old Plank Road (present-day Route 20) – in the way that the cabin is – they are located at a 45 degree angle to the cabin.  This suggests is two things: 1) the stone pavements are historically associated with each other based on their orientation, and 2) they represent a different episode of construction from the cabin. There is some possibility that the path is part of a road that runs along the top of the ridge.  These stone pavements are possibly associated with the Civil War encampments that are throughout the woods on this side of Route 20. Not only was the possible association suggested by the presence of camps adjacent to the Gilmore Farm, but also by Civil War artifacts (buttons and bullets) recovered from these same units.
 
In July and August of 2005, the Montpelier Archaeology Department (with assistance of the 2005 State University of New York at Potsdam Field School) discovered what we believe is the first home built by the Gilmore family (George Gilmore being a former slave of James Madison).  Evidence for the structure appears in a 1920 photograph of the cabin and back yard.  When archaeologists placed excavation units in the area behind the cabin they found evidence for the chimney base for the structure and evidence for a chimney for a Confederate hut.  Based on the archaeological finds, archaeologists believe that the when the Gilmores first moved onto the land in the late 1860s they might have disassembled a confederate hut and used the timbers and stone to build their initial residence.  Once the Gilmore saved enough money to purchase the timbers for the present Gilmore Cabin, they disassembled the chimney of their initial home and used the stones for the present chimney at the cabin.  Plans are being made to complete excavations in the back yard and reconstruct the Gilmore’s initial home (which in later years was used for a workshop or a kitchen.
 
F100, excavated completely down to the clay floor
Photograph of stone path beside the Gilmore cabin.
F100, excavated completely down to the clay floor
Photograph of Civil War-era artifacts recovered from units behind the cabin.  From top to bottom: brass fitting, brass rivets, two Union eagle buttons, and a Sharps carbine bullet.
F100, excavated completely down to the clay floor
Photograph of summer 2005 excavations at the Gilmore Farm that revealed the location for the potential early Gilmore residence and the location of the base for a chimney of Confederate hut.  The photo in the inset was taken in 1920 and shows the structure still in existence, but with the chimney removed.  It is likely the Gilmore reused the stone chimney from this early structure for the “new” cabin they built in 1873.
 

 

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