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.