tv American Artifacts Archaeology at George Washingtons Alexandria Property CSPAN April 22, 2018 3:38pm-4:01pm EDT
thomas. watch landmark cases monday at 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span join the conversation our hashtag is landmark cases. and follow us at c-span. we have resources on our website for backgrounds on each case. the landmark cases companion book, a link to the national constitution centers interactive constitution, and the landmark cases podcast at c-span.org/landmark cases. >> each week american artifacts take you to a start places and museums. in addition to the mount vernon estate, george washington owned a townhouse in the heart of nearby alexandria virginia. the current owner of the property talks about his washington connections and the archaeology of two recently discovered wells in their basement. we visit see some of the artifacts that have been uncovered.
>> a beautiful town established in 1749. we are in a house that was build in george washington by 1767 to 1769. it stayed in the washington family coupon washington's death. when she died it went back to washington estate. he original auction was held in 1749. george bought two lots. lamotte was 118, 1 was 112. george was a good businessman. if you are a farmer you have to know business inside and out.
he purchased the slot because it meant something to him. there were two springs in the city of alexandria. george washington knew the mportance of surveying, he knew the importance of ocation. he had to build on the lot within two years. his brother had lost that lot because he didn't build on it. he knew he had to build a house on the slot within two years. that is the townhouse that was built in to him team 57 to 769. george washington asked a friend if he would help subdivide the lot.
it ended up being eight parcels. this portion of the lot stayed in the washington estate until robert washington relinquished control of it. it is signed by george washington three months before his death. it's a lease, washington, wife. that's all in his handwriting three months before his death. the director of archaeologists held this document and said he has never seen anything like it.
it signed by george washington, martha washington, george washington's secretary, his tepson, and john anderson, his manager. ezra was the lease or of the property. it signed by two gentlemen and john anderson again. that is a document signed by key players at mount vernon. you're the first on camera to see this document. these are original pictures of george and you're the first on camera to martha washington. the document itself is a document put together by an attorney and put together on ugust 8, 1799. the lease or signed it. when george washington wrote this,
him and march the -- and martha and john anderson signed it. these are done in a dark pen and these are done a lighter pen. it also has the exact same seal on his will. he only wrote to nine letters from the time this was written until he died three months later. two of those letters were written to his secretary of war and one written to a personal friend of his. this is a document that has never been seen that is in this home. it will stay in this house even f we sell the house. i had nine homes here in the city of alexandria i have renovated over the last 20 years.
i married a beautiful woman. my wife is related to george washington. we were in the house on duke street. we had our third daughter and e needed more space. when i was at church at st. paul's episcopal church i spoke with one of the rescue members. she said there's the property right across the street you may want to take a look at. i asked her about the house and the size of the house. we took a walk across the street. took a five minute tour of the house and put a contract on the house. he wanted to get back into the washington properties, and we had to show my wife's enealogy, she's related to george washington through george washington's great-grandfather. we have been living here for about five years.
we have run out of space in the house we went to the city and ask to look into the equirements. the way we could build was to build down. we have run out of space in the we heard a big architect and an engineer. the engineer broke through the all or the loveless and we dug down five feet and went down into the basement to look around, it was a crawlspace about 11 inches. i looked around with a flashlight and when we looked to the left we saw depression down five feet and went down into the basement to look in the corner where a new edition had been put. i moved all the dirt away. i called the archaeologist and
my wife and i are both historians. my wife is an art history major. i think it's important. we had friends who did the same thing, same process. hey dug the basement without letting the city know what was going on. my wife and i did not want that to happen. we dug fight feet to the well. letting the city know what was when we dug from the right, we found a second well. the archaeologist called mount ernon. we started to date on well number one. i think the highlights are number one we got the city involved and we got mount vernon involved in the community as a whole right now has come together. city papers are posting
articles about what happening here with alexandria and the renovation below us. i became an archaeology 101 student, to tell the truth. i became an archaeology 101 we are three quarters of the way through the excavation right now. probably 2500 artifacts. artifacts range from the late 1700s to the late 1920's about 90% of anything we find we are going to get alexandria and mount vernon. it very important that people who are stewards nderstand they have up responsibility to give back to
the community. >> the process has been allowed o do some of the excavation. we completed the well that was once standing right here. we are still in the process of xcavating the other one. you can see they will show what they are doing. we are taking half of this well out. you can see the layers of soil
this final layer. we are close to being at the bottom of the well. the excitement of the well is this is going to be a bottom layer where presumably things may have fallen or dropped when the well was in use. or it could have been used after they were done using it for water, it may have been used as a trash pit. to us archaeologist, that's what we are looking for. those are the clues to learning about the past. we are excited, we are going to get down to that layer. once we remove this other half e will be ready to penetrate to the bottom. we encountered to barrels. we think the sequence of events may have been this is no longer to us archaeologist, that's what we are looking for. to be used to get water, it was
filled in with clay. this is the drawing, the sidewall. this one was two feet wide and two feet deep. it's also possible it may have been a place to store coal if they were using coal furnaces. it's another chapter of the story about this well we are rying to figure out. so we will see where we go with that. the other story or sequence is it was first and which was second. it is unlikely both wells would have been in use at the same
time. the question is which was the first in which was the second? one of the clues that will tell us about that is the artifacts that we find buried into these wells in the soil, especially at the bottom. as you will see later on we are beginning to go through the artifacts and do that and see if we can sort out which was first and which was second. demo we are now now exact or archaeology museum. this is a public museum where residents and visitors come or visiting the heart of old town alexandria. our museum is incredibly new -- incredibly unique because we are a typical museum but we are also a public laboratory space. people can come and interact with volunteers and staff and see the archaeological process aking place and ask questions.
what you are seeing is processing artifacts from the ell. the first stage of archaeology that happens after all the artifacts come out of the ground is they come into the lab and the artifacts get processed. first we take the dirt off, and that allows us to begin the process of identification of what these things actually are. wells are important archaeological features to study. they are really time capsules of the past. people use them for a successive number of years as a well and then other things. archaeologists study trash. ventually the wells get cap, o they don't create hazards. new indoor plumbing gets put in
epending on the situation. all of that information is maintained. archaeologists get excited when they have the opportunity to excavate archaeologically. of that information is this is the very top of the well, the beginning of the excavation. what we expect to find is a broad range of artifacts at the top level. you may have them dating back to the 18th century, and pass the 19th century when it was apped. if we look more closely into the screen here, we see some unusual artifacts that catch the eye.
hese are clay marbles and this is a clay tobacco pipe. there is an extensive variety of ceramics. this is transfer painted white layer. these artifacts are definitely from the 19th century. then it tells us about what people in alexandria eat. lots of oyster hells and animal bones. some are potentially more related to rodents and scavengers that were in the back lots of houses. you can even see the teeth are still preserved in this mandible here. lots of bottle glass and iron artifacts.
all being cleaned. the excitement with this collection is because of this partnership we have undertaken with a local homeowner, with the city of alexandria, with with archaeologists from mount vernon. we have a partnership to discover the past. we are just getting started with the post excavation processing. that can take a while. it's not a quick process. i would say we are just beginning the process overall. what will happen is there will be further studies and they come in to alexandria and see the large collection of artifacts. so that future generations can study or learn more by tudying.
i think what we will get a glimpse of when we analyze the bottom and get down to excavating and analyzing the bottom is really rich information. we will have artifacts that will tell us about diet, pieces of ceramic that will tell us about choices and fashion. this will continue to add to our data set on residents in that period. sometimes we can reconstruct blocks of histories and begin to learn more about the demographics of the people living on the block and connect that to the tangible material remains.
you can watch this and other american artifacts programs by isiting our website. c-span.org/history. >> next sunday at 8:30 a.m. eastern live we continue our series 196, america in turmoil. americans were eye witnesses to the war in vietnam, chaos in their city streets and assassinations. we'll examine the media's role covering these and other events 50 yoorgs ago. our guests are author and journalist and pulitzer prize winning photograph. nesk sunday here on american history tv. >> this weekend on the presidency, president harry truman's eldest grandson talks about why president truman found it necessary to move his family out of the white house
for rest ration that lasted between 1948 and 1952. here's a preview. >> when it came time for the truman balcony, that was their refuge. that's wri my grandparents ent the mornings, evening, nights. so this is a refuge to them. so the truman balcony to him was just a natural idea and he said it improved the lines of the white house. everybody disagreed with him at first. he got a lot of flack. congress wouldn't give him the money so he paid for it out of his household budget. he paid for the truman balcony out of his budget. i think it cost around $14,000. but at the time of course we're about the white house falling apart. it was the only safe place to stand. and there's grandpa on the truman balcony reading and abou falling you can tell who the photograph was because she cut my grandmother in half.
so i had to throw the mrs. truman balcony out there as well. my mother you can see my grangedmother, you can hear her stop that get that camera away from me. she is yelling at my mother who is taking these p who is taking inspectors but presidential families have loved that balcony ever since. the kennedys playing on the balcony. and the carter's. and i love this picture of president and mrs. bush. announcer 1: watch the entire program sunday at 8:00 p.m. and midnight eastern on the presidency. this is "american history tv, only on c-span3. announcer 2: next on "reel nbc seriesnd examining the status of the women's movement. the reports air between september 1969 and april 1970 and are hosted by several female reporters and cover protests, court cases regarding fair pay and