Chapter 4B


Chapter 1
Chapter 2A
Chapter 2B
Chapter 2C
Chapter 3A
Chapter 3B
Chapter 4A
Chapter 4B
Chapter 5A
Chapter 5B
Chapter 6
Chapter 7


Chapter Four (Part B)
Summary of Excavations at Sudley Post Office

Thornberry Household, Kitchen and Yard Deposits (Megastratum IV.a)

Megastratum IV consists of the lower strata and features excavated in the root cellar within Excavation Units 10 and 20.  This includes strata H1, H2, and features excavated within the root cellar.  Megastratum IV also includes strata excavated to the northeast of the house (Excavation Unit 12 and 29) and Feature 15 excavated in Excavation Unit 15.   The strata outside of the root cellar contain a small amount of materials comprising only 17% (n=41) of the assemblage of Megastratum IV.  The yard deposits begin on average at 203.3 ft amsl and average 0.24 ft in depth.  The soils of Megastratum IV.a consist of  a dark brown (10YR3/3) loamy clay.

Features.  There were five features located in the root cellar that are associated with the Thornberry household.  All of these features are interpreted as smaller “vegetable kilns” excavated in the larger root cellar feature.  These smaller holes were dug below the frost level, with vegetables such as apples, cabbage, turnips, potatoes and carrots placed into the bottom on top of straw, and re-buried (McDaniel 1981:154, Connie Padget 1998, personal communication).  These would keep the vegetables moist through the winter to prevent spoilage (Max Stubbs 1997, personal communication).

The first of these features (Feature 21) was located in Excavation Unit 20 in the southern portion of the unit against the cut subsoil wall for the root cellar (Figure 4.8).  Feature 21 consisted of a semicircular hole measuring 2.8 ft north-south and 2.4 ft east-west (Feature 21.a).  This feature was also associated with a  circular hole 1.1 ft in  diameter (Feature 21.b).  The feature was distinguished from other redeposited subsoil in the larger root cellar feature by looser soil, a dark reddish brown (5YR3/4) clay with bedrock chunks.  The top of feature 21 was found at an average depth of 198.83 ft amsl and went to a depth of 198.60 ft amsl.

The remaining features (23, 24, 25, 26, and 27) were found in Excavation Unit 10 (Figures 4.8 and 4.9 ).  Their soil color, soil texture, average opening, and average closing elevations are summarized in Table 4.4.   Feature 23 was located in the northwestern corner of the unit and was a circular feature measuring 1.4 ft in diameter. Feature 24 was located in the western portion of the unit and continued into the western wall.  This feature was rectangular and measured 3 ft north-south.  The east-west measurements were not available since the feature continues into the western wall.  Feature 25 was located in the eastern portion of the unit and was circular in shape.  The feature measured 1.25 ft in diameter.  Feature 25 was very similar in profile and shape to Feature 23.  Feature 26 was located in the southern portion of the unit and extended into the southern wall. The feature was roughly rectangular and measured 2.3 ft east-west.  The north-south measurements were not obtained since the feature continues into the southern wall.  Along with redeposited bedrock and subsoil, Feature 26 contained a very fine and compact gray (10YR5/1) clay residue that was mixed with decaying wood.  This clay appears to be a fine clay wash that gradually replaced the large knotted wood material as it decayed.  The function of the wood in this feature is unknown.  An unusual find in this feature was a broken wrought-iron fire dog located in the souther wall of the unit.  Feature 27 was located in the northwestern portion of the unit and was roughly rectangular.  The northern portion of the feature was difficult to differentiate from the surrounding matrix of redeposited subsoil of the root cellar.  The size of Feature 27 was 2.1 ft east-west and approximately 1.5 ft north-south.  At the bottom of this feature there was a wooden plank measuring .3 ft east-west and .89 ft north-south.  This planking may have served as a platform to place root vegetables or other items buried within the vegetable kiln.

Feature 28 was located in Excavation Unit 12.  This feature was confined to the southeastern corner of the unit and was first identified as 196.57 ft amsl.  The feature contained a dark brown (10YR3/3) loamy clay that went down to bedrock at 194.68 ft amsl.  The exact shape and size of this feature is unknown since it extends into the southern and eastern walls of the unit.  There was only a small whiteware sherd located in this feature, despite the extensive material in the upper stratum of the adjoining Excavation Unit 29.  Based on this dearth of materials, this feature might represent a fill feature from the initial construction of the Sudley Post Office structure in the 1840s.

Feature 14 was located in Excavation Unit 14 inside the Sudley Post Office structure.  This feature was immediately adjacent and to the east of the chimney base and probably served as a builder’s trench for the construction of the chimney.  The soil within this feature was a dark brown (7.5YR3/3) silty loam.  The top of the feature was around 198.53 ft amsl and went down to 198.24 ft amsl at subsoil.

Artifacts.  Of the 39 ceramic sherds recovered from Megastratum IV, half are whiteware (49%, n=19).  The remaining sherds are hard paste whiteware (13%, n=5), porcelain (2.5%, n=1), glazed earthenware (2.5%, n=1), gray paste stoneware (18%, n=7), Bristol glazed stoneware (7.5%, n=3), Albany slipped stoneware (2.5%, n=1), and yellowware (7.5%, n=3).

The majority of the 104 glass artifacts recovered from Megastratum IV are window or flat glass (54%, n=56) and container fragments (27%, n=28).  Other glass artifacts are lighting accessories (20%, n=21), and unidentified glass (2.8%, n=3).

There were 74 nails recovered from Megastratum IV.  Over half of these nails are machine cut (62%, n=46) followed by those of unknown manufacture (35%, n=26), wire nails (2.7%, n=2), and a hand wrought nail (1.4%).  Other metals recovered include six .22 caliber cartridge cases, two lead shot, various hardware (a spike, a staple, a washer, and two wood screws), and a shutter latch.  Also included in the assemblage is a mother-of-pearl button and a cufflink located in Megastratum IV.

Sixteen bone fragments were recovered from Megastratum IV.  These include eight mammal (50%) and 8 small mammal/bird (50%).

There are three lithic materials from Megastratum IV, including a quartz Halifax stem fragment, one quartz chunk and a quartz flake.

Thornberry Household, Wheelwright Shop (Megastratum IV.b)

The metal detector survey of Sudley Post Office located a concentration of metal objects downslope and to the west of Sudley Post Office structure.  These deposits are situated in a level area adjacent to Sudley Road and in an area that local residents identified as the location of John Thornberry’s wheelwright shop (Wilson Beavers 1997, personal communication).

Stratigraphy.  There were two excavation units placed in the center of the metal concentration (Excavation Units 25 and 26).  The soils encountered in these units consist of a brown (10YR4/3) silty loam.  Megastratum IV.b is encountered at an average depth of 184.9 ft amsl and bottoms out at 184.7 ft amsl.

In Excavation Unit 26 a heavy concentration of cobbles existed in Unit Stratum 26.A.  This cobble layer was not encountered in Excavation Unit 25 or in shovel test pits excavated in the area of the shop site.  This layer of cobbles is tentatively being interpreted as the floor for Thornberry’s shop.

Artifacts.  There was eleven sherds of bottle glass encountered in Megastratum IV.b, Excavation Unit 26.  The remainder of the metal objects were recovered in the metal detector survey.  These metal objects include 5 horseshoe fragments, 1 strap iron fragment, a king pin, a carriage step, and six unidentified iron scraps.

Thornberry-Davis Households, Mixed Midden (Megastratum V)

Stratigraphy.  Strata from mixed deposits are grouped into Megastratum V.  The majority of these mixed deposits are located in the lower strata of the downslope midden of Excavation Units 11, 22, and 27 and in the eastern yard in Excavation Units 14 and 19.  The average depth in the midden units is 0.1 ft with an average opening elevation being 195.87 ft amsl.  The soils with the midden deposits range from a brown (10YR4/3) silty loam to a yellowish brown (10YR5/8) clayey silt.  The deposits encountered in the yard have an average depth of 0.23 ft with an average opening elevation at 196.6 ft amsl.  The soils from the yard group into Megastratum V consist of a dark yellowish brown (10YR4/4) clayey loam.

Artifacts.  There were 51 ceramic sherds recovered from Megastratum V.  Whiteware (45%, n=23) are the majority of these sherds.  The remainder of the ceramic assemblage consist of hard paste whiteware (31%, n=16), porcelain (4%, n=2), glazed earthenware (8%, n=4), grey paste stoneware (10%, n=5), and Albany slipped stoneware (4%, n=2).  One very interesting find in Megastratum V is the stem portion of a Colonoware tobacco pipe.  Similar tobacco pipe fragments have been recovered from African-American sites at Manassas Battlefield (Parker and Hernigle 1990; Galke 1992:79).  The presence of this pipestem might speak more to the activities of John Thornberry’s two slaves than to the activities of the household residing at Sudley Post Office.

Two hundred and eighty-six glass artifacts were excavated from this mixed provenance.  Most of these artifacts are container glass (47%, n=136) with window or flat glass (26.5%, n=76) being the next most prevalent material.  Lighting accessories (13%, n=37), tableware (5%, n=14), and unidentified glass (6.6%, n=19) were also recovered.

Nails are the most numerous (n=388)  metal artifacts recovered from Megastratum V.  The majority of these nails are machine cut (53%, n=207) followed by nails of unknown manufacture (35%, n=138), wire nails (11%, n=42) and one wrought nail (0.2%).  Other metal items include three .22 caliber cartridge cases, two lead shot, a percussion cap, a clock gear, a cupboard hinge, a washer, two wood screws, a shutter latch and two cast iron stove fragments.  Among the clothing related materials in Megastratum V include four glass buttons, a shell button, three grommets, two shoe leather fragments, and two suspender clasps.  Toys include two porcelain doll fragments and a glass marble.

Fifty bone fragments were recovered from Megastratum V.  These include 37 mammal (74%), nine small mammal/bird (18%), and four fish (8%).

Megastratum V includes three lithic materials; a quartz uniface, a quartz flake, and a quartz Halifax stem fragment.

Prehistoric Deposits (Megastratum VI)

There were two areas containing prehistoric materials at Sudley Post Office.  The first was located in the yard of the structure of Sudley Post Office, and the lithic materials found in this area are described in the  Megastratum artifact summaries.   There was also a potential prehistoric feature located adjacent to the house.

The second area where prehistoric materials were recovered was located through STPs excavated 250 ft south-southwest of the Sudley Post Office structure.  Excavation Unit 28, measuring five ft x five ft, was placed in the center of this concentration in an area where probing revealed the deepest plowzone.

Stratigraphy. In Excavation Unit 28, prehistoric materials were recovered from the surface (200.58 ft amsl) down to bedrock at 199.6 ft amsl.  The soils in this unit were a dark grayish brown (10YR4/2) silty loam.  All of the lithic materials were confined to the plowzone which, in this area of the site, was extremely deflated and cut into the decomposing bedrock.

Features.  There was one prehistoric feature (Feature 4) encountered adjacent to the Sudley Post Office structure in Unit 4.  This feature is a patch of scorched and reddened subsoil that underlay Megastratum II (Figure 4.11).  Feature 4 begins at 198.59 ft amsl and bottoms out to subsoil at 198.31 ft amsl.  The patch measures 2.2 ft east west and 1.9 ft north-south.  The soils consist of a red (2.5YR4/8) clay.  There were 4 rocks encountered within the stain that showed evidence of heat spalling.  These rocks are probably natural to the subsoil since they were of a small size and were situated within the subsoil matrix.

Artifacts. There were a total of 116 lithic artifacts recovered from Excavation Unit 28.  Table 4.5 summarizes the breakdown of these lithic materials.  Also mixed into the plowzone were eleven historic materials consisting of four bottle glass fragments, five cut nails, and a piece of cut lead.

There were two projectile points recovered in Excavation Unit 28.  One was a rhyolite Levanna Point dating to the Late Woodland and the second was a Rhyolite side -notched point dating to the Late Archaic.  In the shovel test pits placed in the immediate area of Excavation Unit 28 there were two other quartz Halifax Points and a Savannah River Point recovered that dated to the Late Archaic.  The large quantity of Greenstone flakes possibly points to the retouching of flaked Halifax-style axes (Stephen Potter 1997 personal communication).

Diagnostic materials recovered from Sudley Post Office span several time periods from the Late Archaic to the Late Woodland.  The wide temporal range of diagnostic points and the high number of lithics indicate the area was repeatedly occupied.  McGarry located prehistoric sites in similar geographic areas to the southeast along Bull Run.  Like the site at Sudley Post Office, these sites are situated on ridges adjacent to Bull Run at approximately 200 ft amsl.  Based on the presence of ceramics, some of the sites McGarry encountered appear to have been larger Late Woodland base camps (McGarry and Bohannon 1986).


Archeological testing during 1997 succeeded in obtaining an sufficient sample of the cultural resources at Sudley Post Office to clear the proposed stabilization of the structure. An area was also cleared for the construction of a utility line leading from the southwestern corner of the structure to Sudley Road (see Figure 4.12).   Recommendations for the treatment of sensitive areas at Sudley Post Office are presented in the Recommendation and Summary Chapter.

As mentioned above, there were three main research questions that were addressed through the archeological record at Sudley Post Office.  There were no archeological deposits located within the immediate perimeter or inside the Sudley Post Office structure that would allow insight into the construction dates for individual portions of the structure.  However, deposits recovered from the root cellar of the kitchen contained materials dating to the second quarter of the nineteenth century.  This date coincides with tax and census information that places the Thornberry household at Sudley around 1847.  Based on the presence of these deposits, the initial date of construction is associated with the arrival of the Thornberrys at the site.

Archeological investigations at Sudley Post Office allowed for the location and identification of the external kitchen, John Thornberry’s wheelwright shop and an early privy.  The outdoor kitchen and associated root cellar existed 20 ft to the east of the structure.  Rubble remains of the kitchen structure were found along with a 4.5 ft deep root cellar situated directly below the destruction rubble of the kitchen.  John Thornberry’s wheelwright shop stood 125 ft to the northwest of the structure and adjacent to the former roadbed of Sudley Road.  Archeologists recovered a concentration of blacksmith/wheelwright-related materials in this area along with a layer of cobblestones.  These cobblestones may represent a workshop floor.  A privy hole was located ten ft to the south of the extant privy structure.  No diagnostic materials were located within the privy feature that allowed a determination of when the shaft was excavated.  The fill material recovered from the privy shaft, however, dated to the construction of the extant privy sometime in the 1930s.

Thornberry household deposits were moderately represented in Megastratum IV, with the majority of the Thornberry assemblage recovered from the root cellar deposits.  There were no intact strata from the Matthews’ occupation of Sudley Post Office.   Materials dating to the fourth quarter of the nineteenth century were located in mixed downslope deposits.  Household deposits from the Davis occupation were very well represented in Megastratum III.

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