Archaeologists unearth 300-year-old slave quarters at historic Southern Maryland plantation

Archaeologists have announced the discovery of 300-year-old slave quarters at a historic plantation in Southern Maryland.

They are now recovering artifacts that lay buried in farm fields within Newtowne Neck State Park in Saint Mary’s County — a stone’s throw from an 18th-century brick manor once occupied by Jesuit missionaries.

The archaeologists are from the Maryland State Highway Administration and St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

“The Jesuits were prolific in their record keeping, but very little survived on the enslaved African Americans who worked the fields and served the Catholic Church,” said Maryland Department of Transportation’s chief archaeologist Julie Schablitsky.

“If there was ever a place in Maryland that holds the story of diverse cultures converging to find religious freedom in an environment of conflict, sacrifice and survival, it is here,” she said.

Archaeologists are using metal detectors to pinpoint the locations of early cabins, places where the enslaved left evidence of their lives in broken clay tobacco pipes, ceramic cups and rusty nails, MDOT said in a news release last week.

Early documents mention the sale of 272 slaves from Maryland in 1838, including those who lived at Newtown Manor, according to the news release.

It quotes the Rev. Dante Eubanks, a resident of Leonardtown, who traces his family to this plantation.

“To be able to stand in the exact place where my ancestors lived and endured is a powerful experience,” he said. “We need to remember these stories, they are important to our history and healing.”

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