1991 Junkins Cellarhole Archaeological Dig

Report from Kathleen Wheeler, Historical Archaeologist - May 14, 1992

"First of all, I wish to send heartfelt congratulations that you finally acquired the Junkins property. I feel there is a certain justice that the land has come around to be in the possession of family memers, and the cemetery can be taken care of properly. I have enclosed a copy of the 1991 survey report. I think you will find it very thin on details on a site by site basis, but these reports often take on this configuration when there are several sites to present. I am glad you are concerned about any future development, because, as the report notes, we found no clear archaeological evidence that the earliest Robert Junkins house stood over the site of the cellarhole. This problem has been encountered at every site I looked at in the village, the site of the four homesteads in the 1640s. Archaeologists can explain these results in one of several ways: 1) the original seventeenth-century house was not located at the site of the current structure, or 2) archaeological remains from the seventeenth-century are so sparse that they are easily lost or disturbed in succeeding generations of occupation. I find the latter unsatisfying as an explanation in all cases — that no matter how hard we look, we will never find clear signs of the earliest historically documented settlement. At the moment, I am favoring the first explanation, because we do have evidence of it at the Thomas Moulton site in Cider Hill.

"Just down the road from you, along Gowen Lane, we have clear historical, cartographic, and archaeological evidence that family members built new houses in each of three succeeding generations, and each time they moved the house to a different location. I am wondering if the Junkins family did something similar; i.e., if Alexander Junkins built a new cape early in the eighteenth century, some time after the 1692 raid, or after the death of his father in 1699. It is possible that later generations of Junkins built directly from an original — small, earthfast, log — structure, but I do not find it inconceivable that one of the Junkins constructed a brand new building on another set of footings. Documents note that Robert Junkins' original landholding was six acres, and that he rapidly acquired other land in 20-acre increments. This gives us a considerable amount of range of territory to site an original dwelling. Moreover, there is one further piece of evidence that came to my attention this summer when I was doing the survey. York has several examples of a 'tall cape' built in the first decade of the eighteenth century. You can find the best preserved example of this style of vernacular architecture at the intersection of Route 91 and Birch Hill Road; the house sits on a tall rise and overlooks a long hayfield. Ted Baker and I compared the architecture of this house that is well-dated by architectural and documentary evidence to photographs of the Junkins Garrison house. We found that the garrison shared many of the characteristics of this early eighteenth-century tall cape. Again, this does not argue against the possibility that the house underwent a great deal of modification and remodeling at this time. I do feel, however, that we might have a pattern of intergenerational settlement like that of the Thomas Moulton property where sons built entirely different houses separate from their fathers, and that the Junkins Garrison could represent a 'later' (i.e., circa 1705-1710) manifestation of the Junkins occupation. If this is the case, it would be important to monitor earth moving at the time of future construction.

"I stress that the above notes on the Robert Junkins original housesite form a working hypothesis, one that can be easily tested with monitoring any further work done at the site. We are all at a disadvantage because there are other possible factors relating to the absence of clear evidence of 1670-1725 occupation at the site. The first is that we know only that archaeologists have been to the site on prior occasions, but we do not know how large a sample they excavated, or where, or what they found. The second fact we must keep in mind is that the 1991 season opened very small areas, and it is conceivable we missed the seventeenth-century activity areas. I wanted you to be aware of these contingencies that impinge on archaeological findings, so that you can make an informed decision about whether you wish to invest in additional archaeological consulting."

Findings from the Upper York River Archaeological Survey 1991

Submitted to York Historic District Commission York, Maine by Kathleen Wheeler and Emerson Baker

Robert Junkins Garrison Site: ME 497-19

Two days were spent at the Junkins Garrson site to learn more about the local landmark. Harriet and John Simonds related that some prior archaeological investigation took place some years ago, although the record of that work has not been released to the town of York. We sought to delineate activity areas in the immediate vicinity of the cellarhole to retrieve evidence of the Junkins' family occupation of this site. Seven units (Figure 1) revealed disturbed stratigraphy with a mixture of eighteen- and nineteenth-century diagnostic ceramics. No seventeenth-century diagnostic materials or deposits were recovered, although some early redwares may be from this period.

Remains were also recovered from within the cellarhole; these consisted largely of a cache of nineteenth-century broken bottle glass, as well as architectural debris such as brick, nails, burned wood, and window glass. The ranges and percentages of artifact type are summarized in Figure 2; it should be noted that we deliberately avoided the collection of architectural remains such as brick, wood, and window glass. Of interest, though, was the retrieval of nails that might help in the dating of the construction of the wooden structure that stood over the cellarhole.

Researchers are not unanimous in accepting the site as the original homestead of Robert Junkins. Richard Candee believes the Junkins Garrison cape was built early in the eighteenth century, not in the 1670s (personal communication 1991), and Robert Magosci's research sites the homestead of Robert Junkins further west along the old Linscott Road (personal communication 1991). Historical documents put Robert Junkins on a six-acre parcel along the old Road to Newitchewonoc, with the only reference to siting a notation that suggests his homestead was across the highway from Alexander Maxwell. Given the archaeological findings of early eighteenth- and nineteenth-century materials, it is possible that the earliest housesite was not on the site of the Junkins Garrison burned in 1899. This is consistent with findings in the York Village, where seventeenth-century remnants from historically documented seventeenth-century sites are nearly nonexistent.

Grant-Junkins Site: ME 497-135

The Robert Junkins Garrison site is presently a four-acre parcel demarcated on its northeast border by a fieldstone wall. Just immediately north of this wall is a large hayfield owned by John and Harriet Simonds that formed part of the Grant property. Testing took place here along Transect 12 with opening of nine test pits. All units produced brick and nails, while in six of them, domestic debris was recovered. The site has been named as Grant-Junkins, owing to the uncertain origin of the materials.

The site is at 60 feet above mean sea level, consistent with the elevation of sites along the south side of Route 91. Soils are well-drained silty clay with thick lenses of sand and silt above a basal clay level. The site stratigraphy was generally simple, with cultural materials deriving mainly from the Stratum I silty clay. The materials appear to date mostly to the first quarter of the nineteenth century, although there was one modern beer bottle whose remains were extracted from the sod level.

The artifact concentration appeared to be highest about 20 meters south of the property-marking stone wall; beyond this point, artifacts consisted only of architectural debris and did not include any household refuse. The ceramic component was dominated by redware, perhaps deriving from a household farming complex. Given the proximity of the Robert Junkins Garrison cellarhole, it is also possible that the remains originated from this site, although there is a stone wall in 1991 that separates the Grant lot from the Junkins property. Nonetheless, it is curious that in testing the area close to the roadway, we found artifacts clustered there. Further testing should move back away from the Junkins property line, to test whether clusters of remains occur closer to the Grant house.

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