Turner Site (18CH205)


The Turner Site (18CH205) is an isolated interior site located east of Zekiah Swamp in Charles County, Maryland. The site is characterized by a large quantity of white clay tobacco pipe fragments, few European ceramics, and no bottle glass. This enigmatic site was initially interpreted as an English hunting camp but is more likely a domestic site associated with a poor land-owning household.

The property on which the Turner site is located was known as Watson's Choice and was first granted to Richard Watson in 1664. The land consisted of 250 acres. In 1665, Watson conveyed the land to William Cross and Thomas Hensall. Cross had arrived in the colony in 1663 as a servant and was free by 1665. He married Elizabeth, also a former servant, and together they had three children. Elizabeth brought to the household her son by her first marriage, Thomas Wilson, who was raised in the Cross household.

Cross died in 1676 and left land to both his stepson, Thomas Wilson, and his son, William Cross, Jr. Cross also left Cross, Jr. three cows, the "first mare colt to [foal]," and an iron pot. Elizabeth died in 1677, leaving her daughters, Mary, Elizabeth, and Esther, a cow each.

The property was acquired by Clement Haley before 1695; that year, Haley's daughters inherited Watson's Choice from their father. The archaeological evidence suggests that neither Clement Haley nor his daughters lived at Watson's Choice.

Archaeological Investigations

In 1981, Southern Maryland Regional Archaeologist Michael Smolek undertook a controlled surface collection of the Turner site along with the excavation of a few shovel test pits and a single 3-by-3 meter unit. A feature believed to be a storage pit and measuring approximately 1 by 2 meters was uncovered in the test unit. The feature contained no artifacts.


A total of 774 artifacts were recovered by the property owners and by Smolek during his 1981 fieldwork; the materials were cataloged by Smolek and Henry Miller, an archaeologist with Historic St. Mary's City. Just under half of the collection consists of pre-1600 stone artifacts, including 278 projectile points revealing a long Native occupation of the property. Slightly more than half of the artifacts, however, are associated with the colonial occupation.

White and red clay tobacco pipes form the largest portion of the colonial assemblage. More than 300 tobacco pipe fragments were recovered from the site but only four colonial ceramics, including a fragment of Morgan Jones ceramic, were recovered. A single fragment of bottle glass, possibly from a case bottle, was reported in an early analysis of the material but no bottle glass was found in the catalog from which this project drew.

The white clay tobacco pipes, including 281 stems with measurable bores from both the private collection and the 1981 fieldwork, yielded a Binford date of 1654 and a Harrington histogram date of ca. 1645-1680. These dates are earlier than the date suggested by the documentary evidence and the maker's marks. Maker's marks were identified in the collection, including WE (William Evans I or II, ca. 1660-1696), RT (Robert Tippet, 1660-1687), LE (Llewellin Evans, 1661-1688/9), and IS (John Sinderling, 1668-1699). The marks, all from Bristol pipemakers, the Binford date, and the documentary evidence point toward an occupation date range of ca. 1665-1685, suggesting the assemblage represents the Cross family household.

Forty-one red clay tobacco pipe fragments are found in the collection, including four with a running deer motif, one with a diamond motif, and one with a rouletted bowl.

A lead bale or cloth seal, marked "CARSAY 166[-]," was recovered from the Turner site. Lead cloth seals are fairly common on colonial sites. Made in Europe, they were used to hold fabric or merchandise bags. The seal indicated that the product had been inspected for quality, correct dimensions, and for taxation. The lobes of seals came in a number of shapes, such as circular, square and star-shaped. They were used both by merchants and officials who inspected the product. The term, "carsay," is a type of textile, or kersey. Kersey was an inexpensive coarse woolen cloth produced in England.

Although there are clear collector biases evident in the property owner's collection when compared with the materials recovered by Smolek (particularly the high number of projectile points in the property owner's collection), both collections suggest the prevalence of tobacco pipes at the site. The materials led Smolek and Miller to suggest that the site was possibly a sporadically-occupied hunting camp. The documentary evidence, however, suggests the collection represents a free but nonetheless poor household of limited means.


No reports have been prepared for the Turner site.

What You Need To Know To Use This Collection

  • The Turner site was occupied 1665-1677 and possibly until 1685.
  • Archaeological investigations included surface collection, shovel tests, a single test unit, and feature excavation.
  • At the time of its collection, the materials were split up with the Indigenous artifacts going to the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab and the European artifacts going to Historic St. Mary's City.

Further Information About the Collection

The Turner site collection is divided and housed by two institutions. For information on the Indigenous materials in the collection and collection access, contact Rebecca Morehouse, Collections Manager, at 410-586-8583; email rebecca.morehouse@maryland.gov. For information on the colonial materials in the collection and collection access, contact Jennifer Ogborne, Curator of Collections at Historic St. Mary's City, at 240-895-4396; email jho@digshistory.org.

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