Curious about our photo contest winner?

We’ve announced the winner in our Preservation Month 2014 Photo Contest. You can find out who snapped the winning picture here.

Sedamsville Sanitation: Urban Archaeology

The last archaeology blog focused on the Queensgate II neighborhood (today known as the Betts Longworth Historic District) in Cincinnati. Queensgate’s growth started to take off in the 1830s. We saw a shift from largely mercantile/white collar neighborhood to a working class, lower-income population, which corroborated archival research. While this project occurred in Cincinnati, it focused on a period of development in an outer Cincinnati neighborhood. What would the socio-economic differences be between the neighborhoods? What additional information can the archaeological assemblage add to the archival history? Are there any similarities between this middle class neighborhood and Queensgate?

For this project, archaeologists were brought in prior to the expansion of River Road. A survey of the area which would be impacted by the project was conducted on 25 lots on the south side of River Road. Five of these properties had intact features at the time of the survey, including privies, cisterns and wells. These five features were recommended for further testing in Phase II of this project. Archival research and further testing (Phase II) revealed 5 historic-era archaeological sites within 7 parcels. Four of the five features still retained significant integrity which could yield potential data, making this area eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Based on archival research, the significant time range is 1860-1922; the dates in which the features were in use, and when the neighborhood developed. Phase III (this project) reveals what data was found and the interpretations made by this research team about the development of Sedamsville, the residents, and a glimpse into sanitation and health concerns of the residents. This project was completed by Michael Striker, Donna Bryant, James Pritchard, Rita Walsm, Lena Sweeten, Kevin Pape, Donald Miller and Bradley MacDonald. The report is titled, “Phase III Archaeological Investigations at Four Sites (33HA733, 33HA735, 33HA736, and 33HA737) in the Sedamsville Neighborhood Conducted for the River Road Improvement Project (HAM-US 50-17.69; PID 20176).” All information was taken from this report.


History of River Road

Sedamsville is located on the far west side of Cincinnati, on the Ohio River. Henry Sedam formed Sedamsville on land he inherited. Settlement began around 1795. In 1835 Storrs Township was formed, and Sedamsville was annexed to Cincinnati in 1870. The River Road neighborhood really took off following construction of the Cincinnati and Indiana Railroad in the early 1860s. Electric streetcar service replaced horse-drawn wagons by the 1880s, which brought yet another wave of residents. This increase in population can be seen in the architectural styles. If you look up River Road in Sedamsville on a street-view map, you can still see the architectural trends. Very decorative Queen Anne style houses sit at the rear of the lot along River Road. Originally, this provided a large front yard, a separation from the road with a stone wall, but still provided views of the Ohio River. By the turn of the 20th century, American Foursquare and Colonial Revival houses began to fill the front portion of the lots.

One of the stumbling blocks in the record search for the properties on this project, as with many projects, is deciphering whether the person who is listed in the property records is the person actually living in the house. This presented itself in two ways in this project; vague description from city directories (such as simply listing the family lived on River Road or in the 21st Ward instead of a specific address) and maps which did not match the city directory names and descriptions. Additionally, there were many cases in which the property was owned by one person but leased out to another family. All of these factors need to be considered when interpreting an archaeology site.

The properties were all once part of one big property, belonging to Ethan Stone. A prominent Cincinnatian, Stone spent part of his life in downtown Cincinnati and part of his time out “in the country” of Storrs Township. Not a lot of personal information was found about him; he was not found in the census records, and despite having owned property in Sedamsville, does not show up on the 1835 or1847 atlas maps. Stone does, however, hold the record for the longest ongoing court cases regarding the leasing out of his land; 160 years. If you do an internet search for Ethan Stone Land Case you should be able to find the details.


Fast Facts of Each Property

2823 River Road

Footprint of the property first appears on a map in 1869, at the time the property changed hands from Philip Munrath to John Drott. Drott was a stone mason, and an early partner with Charles Kuhl at Charles Kuhl Artificial Stone Company. The property was passed on to John’s daughter. The property was then sold to John Eckert; however it appears that Eckert rented out the property instead of residing at the property. Between 1916 and 1928 the B&O Railroad owned the property. The features are attributed to the time of Drott’s residency on the property.

Features on this property include a bottle-shaped cistern and a feature described by the authors as “brick over limestone paving,” which was located next to the current sidewalk. The artifacts from the cistern reveal that it had been used as a place for disposing household waste after the cistern went out of use. The largest artifact category represented is architectural. Definite mixing of layers occurred, which suggests a large house cleaning episode at some point on or after 1968 (based upon a 1968 penny found in the top strata). Therefore, little information directly linking the artifacts to specific residents of that property could be gleaned.


2739 River Road

The main structure on the property first appears on the 1883-1884 Cincinnati Atlas, however an outbuilding (privy) does not appear on a map until 1891. The 1904 map shows these buildings, however a slightly different location of the outbuilding. Property records are incomplete between 1839 and 1870, at which point Cyrus Coffin owned the property (though did not live on site). Cyrus’ son, Telemachus, sold the property to Frederick Myers in 1870. Based tax information and city directories, it appears the house (and outbuildings) were constructed during Myer’s time living on the property. Myer’s, a Cincinnati Policeman, and his family only lived there for three years, at which point they sold the property to Charles Kuhl. Kuhl and his family turned around and sold the property to John Tischbein (a shoe manufacturer and dealer) in 1875. While we know, based on city directories, that Tischbein lived and worked on Lower River Road, it cannot be certain that he lived (or worked) at this property. In the 1884 directory, Tischbein is listed at a few blocks away, and rented this property to their son. The city directory does list boarders living with the Tischbeins.

A dry-laid undressed limestone privy shaft was identified on this property. The upper portions were angled at approximately 30 degrees, instead of a straight vertical descent. The change took place at approximately 120cm below ground surface. For safety precautions, a trench was excavated around the privy during excavation. During this activity, a stone wall was discovered behind the privy. The base of the wall was at roughly the same level as the point where the privy angle changed. There were two major activity layers; backfilling and night soil. Night soil represents the deposits from when the privy functioned as a toilet. While the property was looted, it appears that the looters were likely only interested in whole bottles (redepositing much of the artifact assemblage). Housewares (including ceramics, lamp chimney glass, and cookware) were most common, followed by bone/ivory/shell (which includes food refuse), and lastly ceramic fragments. Smaller numbers of dolls, marbles, toys, bottles, architectural items, and clothing-related items were also recovered. Based on the artifacts found, it is suggested that this represents daily deposition. Foods represented show both a local presence, as well as being connected to an international food distribution network. Ceramic fragments show a preference for undecorated white ware.


2731 River Road

Much like 2739, this property has some gaps in knowing who actually resided on the property. John A. Bohrer (a basket weaver already living in the area) purchased the property in 1862. The first map available showing a house in that area is from 1869; however the city directories at that time were vague and therefore we do not know whether Bohrer actually lived at the house on the map. The 1884 atlas shows two buildings in the general location of this property, however neither building matches that of the 1869 map. John Bohrer’s heirs sold the property to August Wehmeier in 1886. Wehmeier ran a beer garden and bowling alley on River Road between 1864 and 1891, which would have been a few properties down the road. It is unclear whether Wehmeier resided at 2731 River Road, however they continued to live and work on River Road through the 20th century. The property was passed down to August’s daughter, who then sold the property out to her brother-in-law, Charles Wehmeier. Charles, an upholsterer, rented out the property and never resided there. By 1904 an outbuilding formerly on the property is gone and a new one-story frame building is present. The property continued to be rented out as it changed hands.

A privy dating circa 1900 was identified on this property. The privy was fully looted prior to excavations, therefore the artifacts were not in their primary context which leaves a gap in temporal interpretation. The wall mentioned in the earlier properties was also identified behind this privy. Due to the heavy looting of this privy, the representations of different categories of artifacts are likely skewed. Ceramics show a preference for undecorated wares. High amounts of fragments of glass from lamp chimneys, fragments of medicine bottles, and presence of kitchen waste demonstrate that disposal was gradual (daily, as opposed to one massive cleaning).


2723 River Road

In October 1849, the land was leased by Ethan Stone to Christian Krugle. The property remained in the family for decades. While Krugle’s name is on the deed, his name doesn’t appear on the census from 1840, 1850, or 1860, nor is there any reference to him in early county histories. He died intestate in 1869, at which time the property went to his daughter, Louisa Schmidt, nee Krugle. Based on city directories, the authors explain that it is likely the Schmidts lived at 2723 River Road, with Louisa’s husband (William) running a paint business out of the house. The 1891 map shows the house and a single large frame building identified as paint shop in the rear of the parcel. Like her father, very little information could be found about Louisa. Louisa died intestate in 1908, followed by William in 1914. The three children inherited equal portions of the property, but two of them sold their shares to the third, Stella. Stella owned the property, but her family lived up the block. Stella’s brothers each rented out the property for periods of time. The authors explain that Albert (one of Stella’s brothers) lived there from 1909-1919, after which it appears the house was not rented or occupied at all.

A privy was identified in the 1891 map. Today that spot was occupied by a driveway. A portion of the driveway was removed. Beneath, a square 2Mx2M stone lined privy was located. It is not known when it was built, but based on the neighboring privies and knowing when the area was plumbed for sewage, it was likely abandoned around 1922. Gravel, construction debris, cinders, coal and charcoal fragment were identified extending 1.35 Meters below ground surface. A quarter of the unit was further excavated to 2.72M below ground surface, at which point a large rock was encountered impeding further excavation. Most artifacts were limestone fragments, 84 pieces of linoleum or vinyl flooring were the second most common artifact. A few personal items including a doll marked “Germany”, liquor and medicine bottles, and a watch or locket lid were identified. The authors suggest that these artifacts were all deposited during a fill episode when the privy went out of use, and therefore little about day-to-day life of the residents could be learned.


2717 River Road

This property has the least definite residency history of the properties from this project. It appears that the house first appears on the 1869 map, however a lack of detail on the map makes it difficult to determine if this is the same property. At that point in time, Edward Bepler owned the property (along with many other lots along River Road), however the Bepler family rented out the property. Louis Hohendorf is listed as residing on “River Road west of Mt. Echo Road” between 1872 and 1886; in the area of this property, though not a specific address. Edward Bepler’s daughter, however, married Louis’ brother. Perhaps just a coincidence. While family members resided for brief periods of time, the majority of the residents were unknown renters. What we do know, however, is that on the 1883-1884 atlas, a frame rectangular building appears on the property. No outbuildings are shown and no owners are listed. The 1891 map shows a two-story frame dwelling with a one-story frame addition on the rear. An outbuilding, likely a privy, also appears on the property. This property was plumbed for sewage the first year available; 1919.

While this property has a certain lack of firm residential history, it has a unique archaeological feature; wooden privy vaults. Features 11 and12 are considered separate features (each a separate privy vault, but part of the same privy). The fill in each was also different. They were identified approximately 2 Meters below ground surface, during a backhoe excavation. Feature 11 contained three distinct layers, with the 3rd layer being the night soil, containing the heaviest amount of artifacts and organic material. Unlike the other privies mentioned earlier, there is a high representation of botanical and food refuse (food which had to be thrown away, not digested) and a low representation of domestic items like ceramics, glass, and personal items. This suggests that at least for the people who lived here during the time this privy was in use, it was not common practice to dispose of these domestic items here. This brings up the question of what people did with broken glass, ceramics, or clothing which could no longer be worn. The other vault (Feature 12), however, shows a different story. While kitchen slop was thrown out in this vault, a high number of unidentified metal items and fragments from vessel glass and bottles were identified. While Feature 11 had the highest concentration of artifacts at the bottom layer, Feature 12 had the highest representation on the first layer. It has been suggested that while there was a gradual deposition pattern for Feature 11, Feature 12 shows more of a house-cleaning event; a mass deposit.


One of the interesting parts, in my opinion, was the wall which was uncovered during privy shaft excavations. Additions to privy shafts were made at the same level as the base of the wall. This brings up the questions of whether they were linked and why the wall was buried. According to archival research, there was a series of massive floods between 1882 and 1884. This would explain the heavy amounts of soil accumulated on each property, and the need for creating an addition to heighten the privy shaft on each property. It also brings up questions, such as would the soil have filled the privy shafts? If this occurred, does this mean that the artifacts which were temporally mixed once in distinct layers or did the flooding have any mixing effect on the privy shafts?


Sanitation Laws and Attention to Health

American cities lagged behind when it came to sewage system modernization and drinking water sanitation laws. There were no regulations for privies or sanitation prior to 1867. Notes from the Cincinnati Board of Health in 1868 state, “In many parts of the city, privy vaults fill with water from springs and surface drainages, and not infrequently overflow into neighboring cellars and yards (6-7).” Laws were put in place explaining, “No butcher’s offal or garbage, nor any dead animals, nor any putrid or stinking animal or vegetable matter shall be thrown in any street, place or receiving basin, or into any standing water or excavation, or upon the ground of premises of any other person in the city.” Privies were to be cleaned by professionals, night soil was to be disinfected and removed. Ashes and cinders were separated and picked up 3 times per week. Following an outbreak of Cholera, the City revamped their laws again. People now needed to get a permit to dig privy, walls of the privy needed to be no less than 8 inches thick and constructed of stone or brick. The privy walls were to be water-tight, which may have been out of concern that the liquid from the privy vaults was leaching into the drinking water. Once the privies fell into disuse, they were “to be cleaned to the bottom and filled up with earth or other suitable material, such filling [was] to be done under the supervision of a sanitary office,” (Rowland 1886:129). It is not clear how well the ordinances were enforced.

Throughout the late 1880s and into the 1890s, thousands of reports were filed for full privies, improper cleaning, or leaking privies. It is not clear whether the sanitation laws required existing privies to be modified to comply with the regulations. If all the privy regulations were being followed, there would be no artifacts in the privy vaults. Plant and animal remains were found in all privy vaults. The most recent privy, constructed after the laws were implemented, was constructed of brick, but was only one course thick and only 9 feet deep. Since this privy was entirely looted and back filled by looters, it is difficult to say whether the vault was cleaned prior to abandonment. However, due to the number of artifacts recovered (by both this team as well as prior looting) it is safe to say probably not. The night soil layer was found in most of the privies, and while the privies were filled upon abandonment, they were not filled with clean earth. Additionally, with the flooding which occurred in the 1880s, assuming this is why the additions were constructed on privy shafts, what were the parameters around these projects? Was each household required to obtain a permit to build, or was it up to each homeowner to heighten their privy shaft, in accordance with maintenance regulations? This information could give additional insight into whether the outcome of the construction project was based on how much the resident could afford to pay for the addition, or whether they had the skills to build the addition. With this, we would need to know who paid for the maintenance; the property owner or the renter.

While the privies appear to not follow sanitation laws and regulations, it does appear that the residents had a concern for their health. As many know, a large amount of the medicines available during this time were laced with morphine, alcohol, or other addictive elements. Many of the medicines were advertised to cure a range of ailments (as opposed to a specific issue). Looking at the artifact assemblage recovered, and knowing that many more bottles were likely looted, this addictive trend is confirmed. When medicinal bottle showed up in the assemblage, more than one bottle of specific types were often found. This suggests either the medicine actually worked, or people were hooked on them. Similarly, the presence of clear glass milk bottles and mineral water bottles could suggest a concern for the sanitation and contamination of available local water and of milk.



Columbus Landmarks Foundation Releases Most Endangered List

4th Annual Appalachia Heritage Luncheon May 8, 2014

These passionate speakers shared their success stories with us today at the Statehouse

These passionate speakers shared their success stories with us today at the Statehouse

Today May 8th, was Heritage Ohio’s fourth annual Appalachia Heritage Luncheon held in partnership with Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area. The luncheon is an opportunity to celebrate a variety of “success stories” that represent regional culture: art, music, food, business, history, science, preservation etc. These success stories are presented by people who have great passion for what they do, and that they do it in Appalachia Ohio.  Appalachia is a region whose people have too quietly been content to succeed and thrive regardless of popular misconceptions of the region. But, we are not content to let them keep these bright successes under the bushel basket. Once a year we share their stories with the Ohio General Assembly and a growing network of movers and shakers who are passionate advocates for making Ohio a better place.
Today we heard success stories from:
Ada Woodson Adams from the Multicultural Genealogical Center in Chesterhill
Bill Baker from the Millersburg Brewery in Millersburg
Kim Bauer from Portsmouth, telling the story of their floodwall mural project
Deana and Marvin Clark, founders of the Ohio Valley Opry in McConnelsville
Maryann Hartwick, a founder of the Southeast Ohio Astronomical Society in Athens
Dan Long from Greenfield which chose to restore their spectacular McClain High School
Don McKendry who helped found the John & Annie Glenn Museum in New Concord
Elsa Thompson who with her husband founded the Bird Watchers Digest out of Marietta
Geoff Schenkel also from Marietta whose REsolve Studios is a mutli-art production space for all populations

Each of these speakers is doing their bit to change the world to a better place.

Thank you for sharing your stories with all of us in Columbus today.

These speakers shared their success stories at our luncheon today.


Preservation Month 2014 Photo Contest…vote now for your favorite!

Happy Preservation Month! Our photo contest is back, and we have 5 finalists this year vying for the winning vote, and their image on the cover of Revitalize Ohio. Click here to open the contest page, view the finalists, and vote for your favorite! Voting is open through May 22, and we’ll announce the winner on May 23. May the best image win!

Youngstown NDC Seeks Executive Director

SIEDC Hiring Downtown Development Coordinator

SIEDC Position Description
Downtown Development Coordinator

Basic Information

Title: Downtown Development Coordinator
Hours Per Week: 20 (part-time)
Rate: $15.00 per hour
Reports To: President & CEO
Begins Work: As soon as possible after offer made and accepted
Location: 19 W. Market St., Suite C, Tiffin, OH 44883

Nature of Position

The Downtown Development Coordinator (Coordinator) is a part-time position scheduled to work 20 hours per week. It is the intention of the Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp. (SIEDC) to hire a Coordinator to help develop and begin implementing a Main Street Four Point Approach to downtown revitalization and to set the stage to become an accredited Ohio Main Street community within the next year or two.

General Program Description

The purpose of SIEDC’s commercial development effort in the downtown is to develop and implement a strategy for economic development and historic preservation in the downtown Tiffin business district. This position is hired by and reports to the President & CEO of SIEDC. The President & CEO will conduct an annual review of the Coordinator.

Find the full job description, application instructions and additional information HERE

Enter Our Contest!

Each May preservation organizations across the country, including Heritage Ohio, celebrate historic preservation with special events and activities. As part of Heritage Ohio’s 25th anniversary, our Preservation Month 2014 Photo Contest will focus on Ohio’s Main Street and Downtown Affiliate communities. As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” so we want to see why you love Ohio Main Street/Downtown Affiliate communities.

We’ll accept entries through Friday, April 25, choose our finalists, and open the online voting for the winner on May 1. Online voting closes on May 22 and we’ll announce the winning entry on May 23.

Click here to view the contest form and list of eligible Ohio Main Street communities and Downtown Affiliates.

Again this year, we’ll feature the winning entry on the cover of Revitalize Ohio, so here’s your chance for Ohio photographic fame. Good luck!

Nominations open for Heritage Ohio’s Annual Awards

Earlier this week we opened our call for nominations for the Heritage Ohio 2014 Annual Awards. The annual awards recognize the best in the state for historic preservation and downtown revitalization in categories such as Best Public/Private Partnership, Spirit of Main Street, Best Commercial Rehabilitation, and (new this year) Historic Farmstead of the Year! You can learn more about the award categories here.

We will accept award submissions through Friday, May 23, with judging in June. We’ll honor the award winners at a special ceremony during our Annual Conference in Kent on September 23.

So, if you have a project or person that deserves special recognition in the world of historic preservation or downtown revitalization, we invite you to complete and submit a nomination form for judging. Good luck!

Tales From the Privy Shaft Part 3

The final blog in this series will discuss the analysis of the excavations from the Queensgate II archaeology project. All information and ideas discussed below, unless otherwise specified, was from Thomas Cinadr and Robert Genheimer’s report, “Queensgate II: An Archaeological View of Nineteenth Century Cincinnati.” Nearly 50,000 artifacts were processed and analyzed from the Queensgate II project. Pieces of mortar, brick, plaster, roofing material, and window glass were documented in the field but not saved. During the excavation, three privy shafts, two builder’s trenches, and one cistern were excavated. Due to the extensive amount of soil and artifacts from the cistern, a sampling method was employed. After sorting through these samples, it was determined that most of the artifacts were from a mid-20th century period and therefore not processed. Over 94% of the cultural material was recovered from the privy shafts. As such, the archaeologists focused the remaining discussions on these.


An exmple of a bottle similar to those found in the excavations. Credit:

An exmple of a bottle similar to those found in the excavations. Credit:

Glass containers and fragments made up over 20% of the artifacts recovered. Glass, particularly glass bottles, is an extremely good tool for providing dates. The way the bottle was manufactured and the company name and location can be used to narrow a date range. Cinadr and Genheimer note that the majority of the bottles were from Cincinnati firms; however there were also a number of embossed bottles from surrounding states as well as London and Paris. There were three bottle types including the blown-in mold, the semi-automatic, and the fully automatic machine made bottles. Machine made were generally found in the upper levels, which provides an earliest date of 1903, when the Owens automatic making machine was invented. Cinadr and Genheimer also noted that nearly all the beer and soda bottles had bottle caps, whereas the food and pharmaceutical bottles had cork stoppers. The following types of bottles were categorized: returnable pharmaceutical bottles, chemical, oil/polish, wine, whiskey, spirit, bitters, beer, ale, medicine, food, dairy bottles, and scroll flasks.

Extensive corrosion was found on the metal objects. Approximately 3,580 nails and nail fragments were recovered, however classification was mostly unsuccessful due to the extensive corrosion. Attempts at cleaning corrosion did not work. Nail fragments make up 15.6% of all the artifacts from the Betts House privy shaft. The other two privies had significantly more nail fragments in the upper levels compared to the levels with fecal material.


Unlike the metal objects, bone was remarkably well preserved. Bone made up 26.7% of all cultural debris, most of which were butchered bone or food remains. Buttons were the most common non-food bone artifact recovered. Twenty-seven of the twenty-eight were 4-hole buttons, 26 were Type 20 (four-hole bone disc with a rounded back). Cinadr and Genheimer explain that it was difficult to distinguish between bone and ivory because the bone was highly polished. Approximately 19 bone/ivory handles were recovered, which belonged to a variety of object including wax seal stamps, umbrella handles, a revolver, and tool handles. Evidence of 16 tooth brushes were found from the three privies. Thirteen bone comb and comb fragments were recovered, which Cinadr and Genheimer compare to lice tombs of today. A number of unidentified modified bone objects were also found. Cinadr and Genheimer point out that the majority of the bone artifacts were uncovered from the lower portions of the privies, particularly among the fecal material.

Fresh and saltwater shells were recovered from the excavations. Shell buttons or button fragments make up 64% of the 220 shell objects. While they varied in size, the majority were Type 22(shell button with a sunken panel and a flat back). Cinadr and Genheimer suggest that the limited number of local bivalve and marine oysters points to shellfish not being a substantial part of 19th century diet in this neighborhood.

These materials accounted for a very small part of the artifact assemblage. Cloth fragments were generally very brittle and fragile. While also brittle, leather was less fragile. Approximately 406 leather and cloth shoe fragments were identified, with an additional 109 leather fragments found. Approximately 612 cloth fragments were found. Cinadr and Genheimer suggest that the clothing fragments found were most likely used for cleaning, as rags. Sixty-five cloth buttons were found all within one level, but all were quite deteriorated. The mystery of Charles Dustin was also discovered in this level. This will be discussed later.

A total of 176 rubber artifacts were recovered, approximately half were vulcanized. Twenty-four rubber combs and comb fragments were found from the three privies. Cinadr and Genheimer explain that the combs mostly intact and therefore were discarded for reasons other than breakage. Other rubber artifacts included bottle closures, record fragments, buttons, a ball, baby bottle nipples, several toy wheels, spherical aspirator fragments, and hydraulic orifice irrigators.  An interesting look into the health of the residents at 427 Chestnut Street (the Porter residence for 50 years) was also found with the rubber artifacts. A minimum of 38 rubber fragments were identified as enema apparati, including fourteen tube and tube fragments and 24 soft tubing and bag fragments. Cinadr and Genheimer further explain that during Victorian times, the use of enemas was commonly believed to be a means to cleanse the body of poisonous waste.

Clearly the environment of a privy shaft was not exactly conducive to preservation of paper, however, 73 fragments were recovered. Forty-three percent of this collection included fragments of wallpaper, tar paper, and pressed paper. Another interesting find from the Porter residence privy shaft (427 Chestnut Street) is a group of 31 newspaper fragments. Half of these were located in one level. References are made to World War I events and the clippings were found among celluloid campaign pin backs dating to the same era. Level 13 contained 4 fragments attached to leather backing describing attempts by the US Government to secure and operate an armor plate factory in Massachusetts. Below this, several politically themed fragments point to and 1897 date. The Porter’s privy also held two medicinal envelopes, one of which was legible and gives directions for Dr. Edward’s Blood Tonic and Olive … Tablets. The olive tablet was advertised as a means to ease constipation and the tonic was advertised to strengthen the mind and body.

Numerous artifacts which fit into multiple categories were also found, including fragments of furniture, jewelry, personal items, domestic equipment, and architectural items. A good amount of fragments from lamp globe glass, pressed glass, kerosene chimney glass, and electric light bulb fragments were found. Objects relating to electrical lighting tended to be found in the upper ash levels, which helped narrow depositional dates. A total of 110 glass buttons were recovered, 89 of which came from the Porter privy shaft. The majority of buttons were milk glass, with four holes more common than two. Glass and ceramic marbles were recovered from all privy shafts, with the glass marbles recovered from the upper levels as they were more recent. A wide variety of domestic hardware and furniture was recovered including cabinet handles, doorknobs, brass door keys, a variety of tool fragments, metal buckles, buttons, and grommets, several graphite fragments, and a few school slate tablets.

Ceramics were recovered from the privies at 425 and 427 Chestnut Street, making up 141 and 364 vessels, respectively. A variety of both material and vessel type were found, including tableware, toys, and clay pipes. Unlike the non-ceramic artifacts discussed earlier, it seems that with the exception of a jug and a few cups, vessels were discarded when no longer functional. Because of this, the mean date is significantly earlier than relative non-ceramic artifacts in the deposit. Manufacture marks showed a tendency towards purchasing Staffordshire pottery from England, making up approximately 50% of the ceramics recovered. The most popular type was undecorated ironstone (basic white dishes). Local ceramics were not produced until the 1880s.


Charles Dustin
Charles Dustin is a man of mystery. He is listed in the City Directory at 427 Chestnut Street as a 36 year old night watchman in 1899 and 1900 while E.A. Ferguson Porter was a traveling salesman. After 1900, the occupants of 427 Chestnut Street are unknown.  A number of artifacts identified as part of a Cincinnati Police Uniform were recovered during the excavation, including a circular buckle embossed Cincinnati Police, several metal buttons with the Cincinnati seal and Cincinnati Police on them, a bronze metal attributed to being the son of a Civil War veteran, and a loaded single shot revolver along with numerous unfired bullets and casings. Dustin was identified through a rubber stamp with his name. Further research showed he lived at 427 Chestnut Street until 1902. Research conducted by this team during the 1980s provides the beginnings of a mystery. Coincidentally, the Cincinnati Museum, in collaboration with the Northern Kentucky University’s Public History program, is currently exhibiting “Medicine, Marbles, and Mayhem” which features artifacts from this excavation as well as a very interesting update on research into the mystery of a police uniform in a privy. Check it out here.


While one of the goals of the project was to further the research of class difference in the Queensgate II neighborhood, a lack of mercantile material made this not possible. However, as Cinadr and Genheimer point out, several other observations and conclusions can be made based on the material culture recovered. The activity use of the privies shows use as a toilet facility as well as a place to dump kitchen refuse and a place to discard unwanted items. Looking at the two privies which appeared undisturbed, Cinadr and Genheimer noted a tendency towards dense amounts of 19th century artifacts in the same levels as fecal material, kitchen refuse, and heat altered byproduct. There is a trend towards the upper levels as a place to dump ash, kitchen refuse, and contained 20th century artifacts. They concluded the privies were abandoned as toilet facilities around the turn of the 20th century. Another topic to discuss relates to the health of the residents. The recovery of several 19th century medicinal bottles and enema apparati suggest that the 19th century residents were concerned about their health. Additionally, it was noted that duplicate bottles were found, which could suggest they may have found the medicine to provide relief. A number of tobacco-related objects were also recovered, which suggests it was common.

An analysis of seed samples recovered was performed by Mary Eubanks. Seeds included: grape, blackberry, wheat, sunflower, ragweed, and some oblong orange seeds which were unidentified. An analysis of animal bones was conducted by David Dyer. A sample of the approximately 12,000 bones was made by selecting the level with the highest representation of species. Animal bones from two of the three privies were analyzed. Almost half of the identifiable bones had butcher marks on them, which indicated food use activity. Butchered bone from cattle, swine, and sheep were the three most common. The privy at 425 Chestnut Street also contained unbutchered rat and cat bone, including high amounts of fetal or juvenile cat bones. It was suggested that this points to either the death of a pregnant cat, or frequent disposal of kittens. In addition to the above mentioned food sources, the privy at 427 Chestnut Street showed evidence for rat, goose and a frog being used for food. Non-food animal remains included rat, cat, and domestic dog (which appeared to be from one dog).


The Queensgate II neighborhood became designated as the Betts-Longworth Historic District in 1983, for architectural significance and the significance of archaeological data. While the buildings may have been vacant, there was still a wealth of knowledge below ground. Since the designation, the neighborhood has gone through a revitalization period and occupancy rate has increased.


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