New Discovery At The Plantation Site That Inspired "Uncle Tom's Cabin"
A dig has uncovered what may be the remains of a structure present when Josiah Henson lived and worked as a slave on the former plantation.
An archaeological dig in North Bethesda has uncovered what may be the remains of a barn or blacksmith workshop tied to Josiah Henson, a former slave who inspired the novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” The Baltimore Sun reported.
Archaeologists from the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and the PBS program "Time Team America" have been onsite at the Josiah Henson Special Park this week, once the site of a plantation where Henson lived and worked as a slave. PBS crews are filming the three-day excavation to air in 2013 as part of the “Time Team America” program, which highlights digs across the country.
The Josiah Henson site, purchased by Park and Planning in 2006, is in the process of being developed into a public museum.
According to the report, the excavation has uncovered a buried foundation that may date back to the late 1700s or early 1800s, the time period during which Henson lived at the site.
The technology and resources the Time Team America has brought to the dig has been “invaluable," Park and Planning archaeologist Heather Bouslog told The Sun.
“I don't know how many people are aware that Josiah Henson, who is the model for 'Uncle Tom's Cabin,' he was living right here in Bethesda,” she said, according to The Sun.
Scientists say the structure may be a blacksmith workshop because plantation owner Isaac Riley was a blacksmith.
The plan to develop a museum at the site has not been without controversy. A local historian has questioned the interpretive strategy for the museum after it was learned that Henson never actually lived in a log cabin known as the “Riley House” on the site. While Henson did live on the plantation, the cabin was built more than a decade after he left, which was discovered after the property was purchased in 2006.
The new discovery may provide interpreters with a further link to Henson at the site.