The Cramp/Bumm Site was located at the former 1018 Palmer Street property, now part of the PennDOT right-of-way along the southbound side of the roadway.
At the time of the initial excavation, the site was situated on a 10-foot-wide, flat, grassy tract of land that abruptly transitioned into a steeply sloped embankment to the east, adjacent to southbound I-95. The site was bounded by 1020 Palmer Street to the west, I-95 to the east, and Ross/Earl Street to the south. The roadway embankment limited the initial excavation to the area located along the west edge of the property. Later, during archaeological monitoring, the area expanded to the full backyard of 1018 Palmer Street.
Site History Summary
The three-story brick row house at 1018 Palmer Street was built in 1849–1850 for William G. Cramp and his wife Elizabeth. William, the son of a fisherman, and Elizabeth, the daughter of a ship caulker, both grew up in Fishtown. William was a ship carpenter—a man expert in all aspects of building, maintaining, and repairing ships. William G. and Elizabeth Cramp had only one child who survived into adulthood: Jacob, born in 1846. The two generations of the Cramp family remained at 1018 Palmer Street until 1889, when William purchased a house in North Philadelphia and put their house on Palmer Street up for rent.
Their first tenant was Jacob Bumm, a man who worked at the shipyard as a caulker and had been living on the next block. Jacob moved into the three-story row house with his wife Rhoda and their five children, remaining at 1018 Palmer Street until 1914. The next occupant of 1018 Palmer Street was Adam Nickel, who emigrated from Germany in 1882 when he was 15 years old. Nickel lived at 1018 Palmer with his wife and four children, a son-in-law, and a grandchild. The Nickel family rented the house until 1920, when Godfrey and Bertha Bowers bought the property. The Bowers family moved from Port Richmond into 1018 Palmer Street with their 13 children, aged 6–30. After Godfrey’s death in 1943, the house at 1018 Palmer Street was left to their unmarried daughter Edna. A few years later, Edna Bowers sold the house to Charles and Edith Hansen, who lived there until 1967, when the house was sold to make way for construction of I-95.
What Did the Archaeological Excavation Reveal?
Initial excavations at the Cramp-Bumm Site involved the placement of a machine-excavated trench at the northern end of the project area that confirmed the presence of a historic ground surface (Ap horizon) buried below fill deposits. No architectural features (foundation walls) were encountered between the base of the I-95 berm and the fence line demarcating the western boundary of the PennDOT property. However, sections of the backyard at 1018 Palmer Street were preserved, including the remnants of a single circular brick-lined privy shaft (Feature 2). A large number of domestic artifacts were recovered, spanning the mid-nineteenth through early twentieth centuries. Further investigations included the completion of five excavation units (5-x-5-foot squares). Unit excavations led to the identification of five additional historic features.
Interactive Site Tour
This aerial view of the Cramp-Bumm site shows the location of excavation units and the brick privy shafts adjacent to I-95.
The red outline on the 1916 Sanborn Map represents the limits of the excavation site corresponding with 1018 Palmer Street.
The location of excavation units and shaft features are shown on the 1916 Sanborn Map at 1018 Palmer Street. The backyard of the Cramp-Bumm property at 1018 Palmer Street was investigated through the excavation of five, five foot square units (shown in yellow). The brick shaft, Feature 2, is shown in red adjacent to the excavation units. The other brick shaft depicted is related to 1019 Earl Street, a separate site.
This view shows machine removal of fill and overburden exposing the 19th century ground surface and the Feature 2 shaft feature.
Excavation units in the rear yard of 1018 Palmer Street revealed areas of surviving yard deposits and disturbance. The 19th century yard surface was identified in Excavation Unit 5 and is visible in the excavation unit soil profile represented as the dark band at the top of the cross section. The mottled soils beneath the yard deposit are characteristic of wetlands or marsh conditions that probably existed prior to historic development. Excavation Units 1 through 4 revealed disturbances related to the demolition of the building prior to the construction of I-95.
This four foot diameter brick shaft (Feature 2) was exposed at the rear of the 1018 property and contained artifacts related to the Cramp and Bumm families. The shaft was located 35 feet from the rear addition of the 1018 Palmer Street house.
A large variety of artifacts were recovered from the fill in Feature 2 spanning the occupation of the Cramp and Bumm families
The cross section of Feature 2 shows the density of artifacts in the fill.
The four foot diameter privy is shown after the upper fill deposits have been excavated.
This profile view shows the bottom of the fill deposits at the base of the privy. The light colored soil column in the middle of the profile is the result of a split spoon auger test conducted prior to the excavation of the privy. The auger test was conducted to confirm the depth of the shaft and to provide an indication of artifact density in the fill.
This view shows the base of the privy shaft after the fill has been removed. Although the shaft appears shallow in this photograph, the upper portion had been previously excavated and removed. The dark soils indicate wetland deposits.
The total depth of the excavated shaft was six feet. The profile illustration shows the fill deposits contained within the shaft feature which were divided into Analytical Units A and B. Although there was some mixing, there appear to be two distinct episodes of deposition. Analytical Unit A contained artifacts largely related to the later occupation of the property by the Bumm (1889-1914) and Nickel families (1915-1920). The Cramp family (1852-1889) is represented by artifacts recovered from Analytical Unit B which comprised the lower fill deposits of the shaft feature.