FOLK TO NATIONAL CULTURE IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY MONTGOMERY COUNTY: ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND ETHNOHISTORICAL EVIDENCE FROM A MARYLAND PIEDMONT PLANTATION
The purpose of this research was to confirm archaeologically and ethnohistorically the presence of a traditional folk culture in nineteenth century Montgomery County and to document the mid-nineteenth century changes and expansions which were occurring in this regional tradition as it responded to pressures from a then-emerging more national culture. The problem centered around certain artifact material excavated from the Riggs family plantation called Oaks II. Why did its first owners, Reubin and Mary Riggs, scions of wealthy families and themselves the owners of 17 slaves, live with their seven children in a two-room log house and leave behind cast-off items little distinguishable from the middling farmer? The first part of the research answered this question by proposing a pattern of regional culture for the area with folk principles as leveling devices. The second part of the research uncovered when and how this living pattern was interrupted, for the artifacts, archives, and architecture of the mid-nineteenth century have a different cast and appearance. The analysis used a number of theoretical frameworks. Ideology was explored from approaches of a cognitive or structuralist position. Environmental concerns were analyzed incorporating traditional approaches in cultural ecology. Less common in archaeology is an interest in the individual's role in the process of culture change. That role in the ideological and ecological systems was examined using approaches from the anthropology of decision-making. By combining the ethnohistorical and archaeological analyses, the historical overview and material cultural data provided a basis for the intra-site comparison between a large, early nineteenth century Ice House feature and a later mid-century Kitchen addition. These features also provided the basis for an inter-site comparison with certain other plantations, especially in the southern coastal areas of the Lower South. The results of the ethnohistorical and archaeological evidence were placed in narrative form. What emerged was a scenario for change along a border area of the Upland South during the mid-nineteenth century, showing how the availability and use of a certain inventory of material artifacts caused and was staged by the ideologies of folk and national cultures.