The following management summary documents the preliminary findings of Phase IB/II archaeological excavations performed as part of the I-95/GIR Improvement Corridor Project for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), Engineering District 6-0. URS Corporation (URS) performed these investigations within a portion of the larger project area located in the block immediately north of Delaware Avenue (formerly Richmond Street) and south of Wildey Street. The work was conducted in accordance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended; 36 CFR Part 800, particularly sections 800.4, and 800.5; the Section 106 Programmatic Agreement of 2010; as well as the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), Bureau of Historic Preservation (BHP) Guidelines for Archaeological Investigations (2008).
As defined during Phase IB/II testing, Section 5 Blocks 1 and 2 together comprise approximately 2.4 acres of land, bounded by Delaware Avenue to the south, Berks Street to the east, Wildey Street to the north, and Palmer Street to the west (true north) (Figure 1). Block 1 is bounded by Palmer Street (west), Salmon Street (north), Delaware Avenue (south), and Montgomery Street (east). Block 2 is bounded by Montgomery Street (west), Delaware Avenue (south), and Berks Street (east). The northern boundary of Block 2 is delineated by properties fronting onto Montgomery and Berks Streets. Excavations confirmed that intact archaeological deposits and features are well-preserved beneath existing recent fill deposits across nearly the entire site. Identified archaeological resources include historic house and other building foundations, early nineteenth-through twentieth-century subsurface features (brick and wood-lined privies, refuse pits, etc.), and sections of undisturbed historic ground surface (A horizon). Testing within the buried ground surface revealed a scatter of mixed historic artifacts and deposits of Native American artifacts tentatively dated to the Middle Archaic through Early Woodland culture periods. Excavations also revealed remnants of hearth features consisting of fire-cracked rock (FCR) scatters.
The objectives of the Phase IB/II effort were to: 1) determine the presence/absence of any potentially significant prehistoric and/or historic archaeological deposits, building foundations, and other features; 2) assess the significance and integrity of archaeological deposits; and 3) provide recommendations regarding the potential eligibility of identified archaeological deposits for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
Study Area Description and Existing Conditions
Improvements to I-95 in this vicinity will involve the removal and reconstruction of the existing highway viaduct, including the demolition of current roadway piers and other support structures, as well as the construction of a new exit ramp along the north side of Delaware Avenue (Figure 2). Additional ground disturbance could be associated with landscaping efforts, the installation of various utility conduits, and the creation of improved surface and/or subsurface drainage/storm water features.
At present, Section 5 Blocks 1 and 2 consist of bare ground beneath the I-95 viaduct and grass covered land to the south of the highway between Berks and Montgomery Streets. With the exception of an abandoned trailer at the corner of Berks and Delaware Avenue, the entire site encompassing Blocks 1 and 2 is open, level, and featureless. Prior to the construction of I-95, much of the site area consisted of undeveloped backyard and interior block space.
Early Owners to the Founding of Kensignton
During the early historic period, the land encompassing Section 5 Blocks 1 and 2 was part of a 1,600-acre parcel within the colony of New Sweden and patented to Peter Larsson Cock (Cox) on June 5, 1664. Later known as the Shackamaxon Tract, this estate was handed down to Peter’s son Lars (Lasse) Cock, as well as interrelated members of the Nilsson (Nelson) and Rambo families (Milano 2009a). Members of these families established a series of scattered farmsteads along the banks of the Delaware River between Cohocksink Creek and the modern neighborhood of Port Richmond, although the exact locations of their simple homes have never been firmly established.
In 1677, Lasse Cock sold his 300-acre portion of the Shackamaxon Tract to English Quaker Elizabeth Kinsey. The property, in turn, became part of the estate of Thomas Fairman following his marriage to Kinsey in 1680. During the early 1680s, Fairman’s home in Shackamaxon became a primary meeting place and sometime residence for William Penn and many of Penn’s key lieutenants—the group that organized and planned for the establishment of the city of Philadelphia. In 1702, Fairman built a large stone and brick manor house for himself and his
family near the present-day intersection of Beach Street and Columbia Avenue, and immediately adjacent to what is now Penn Treaty Park (Milano 2009b). A few years later, a 191.5-acre parcel of Fairman’s estate was sold first to Thomas Redman (1716) and subsequently to Robert Worthington (Milano 2009a). This property—bounded by the Gunner’s Run stream channel to the north, the Delaware River to the east, Columbia Avenue to the south, and Frankford Avenue to the west—included the area of Section 5 Block 1 and 2 (Figure 3).
The Founding of Kensington to the Revolutionary War
Intensive development and occupation of this vicinity did not occur until after Anthony Palmer purchased the Worthington property in 1730. Palmer had previously lived on a large estate known as Hope Farm, located to the north of Gunner’s Run near the present intersection of Beach and Cumberland Streets. Following his purchase of the former Fairman Mansion, Palmer began subdividing his property into smaller parcels for rent at reasonable rates, laid out a system of streets, and set about establishing a new settlement that he named Kensington, after a suburb of London (Milano 2011). As the village of Kensington began to grow, the earliest inhabitants were primarily comprised of recently arrived English-Welsh and German heritage. Many of these people were involved in the shipping, shipbuilding, and fishing industries, and quickly established new homes and commercial enterprises along the waterfront east of Queen (now Richmond) Street. By the time of his death in 1749, Palmer had rented out more than 50 properties and sold more than 25 others (Milano 2011; Remer 2002).
In the following decades, Kensington continued to grow, with newer residents occupying properties located to the west of Richmond Street. Though historic maps from this period are often lacking in terms of the depiction of detailed development, those examined for this management summary suggest that up until the time of the Revolution, the majority of occupation in Kensington continued to be clustered primarily along and in close proximity to Richmond Street. Some maps, such as the 1752 Scull and Heap plan, suggest that a number of homes may have been established within or in the immediate vicinity of Section 5 Blocks 1 and 2 by this time (Figure 4).
The British Occupation
In 1777–1778, during the Revolutionary War, British forces occupied Philadelphia under the command of Sir William Howe. To protect the city against marauding American troops, the British established a string of 10 earthen fortifications along the (then) northern limits of Philadelphia. The easternmost of these fortifications, located within the present SugarHouse Casino property (opposite the intersection of Richmond Street and Frankford Avenue), was known as “Redoubt #1” and was manned by Loyalist troops belonging to British Lieutenant Colonel John Graves Simcoe’s Queen’s Rangers (Figure 5). During his time in Philadelphia, Colonel Simcoe kept a detailed diary of his unit’s actions. Several passages in the diary suggest that advanced picket outposts may have been established near the mouth of Gunner’s Run, possibly in the immediate vicinity of the Gunnar’s Run South Site,∗ located in the block north of Section 5 Block 2, and that numerous skirmishes between forces occurred in this area.
After the Revolution, the village of Kensington continued to expand and become more populous, especially as the region became progressively more industrialized (Figure 6). Throughout the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the site area incorporated multiple small residential properties and consisted largely of undeveloped open yard space associated with homes fronting on the north side of Richmond Street, the west side of Berks (formerly Vienna) Street, both sides of Montgomery Street, and the east side of Palmer Street. The First Presbyterian Church of Kensington was established in the early nineteenth century, located on the east side of Palmer Street, encompassing the later-nineteenth-century George Chandler Public School building and property that still stands at the southwest corner of Montgomery and Wildey Streets.
The First Presbyterian of Kensington traces its history back to 1812, when a Welsh pastor named Jenkins began Wednesday evening meetings in his home in Fishtown. With the help of the Evangelical Society of Philadelphia, Sunday afternoon and evening services were added. As the number of worshippers increased, the group moved into a schoolhouse on Richmond Street. Other meetings were held at the home of John Philip Rice (or Johan Philip Reiss), one of the church’s founders. A church was erected on the northeast side of Palmer Street in 1813. The church measured 40 x 60 feet in size, with galleries on three sides. At the time of its construction, it was the only church in the Kensington District besides the Methodist Episcopal and oversaw the religious needs of a population between 5,000 and 6,000 people. A group of seven male and two female members organized the church on March 23, 1814. They then applied to the Presbytery of Philadelphia, which established the First Presbyterian Church in Kensington. George Chandler (1790–1860) was pastor of the First Presbyterian from 1815 until his death in 1860 (Christian Observer, 17 Sept. 1857:149; Milano 2011:120; Milano 2013).
The congregation built a brick Sunday school behind the church measuring 33 x 18 feet in 1816. In 1825, a survey was made of the 85 Sunday schools in Philadelphia. The First Presbyterian Sunday School in Kensington had 200 students and a staff of 27 teachers (The American Sunday School Magazine, May 1825:136; Christian Observer, 17 Sept. 1857:149).
On August 3, 1825, the First Presbyterian of Kensington congregation purchased a lot with 60 feet of frontage on Montgomery Street for $1,020.00. The deed does not mention the intended use, but church meeting records specify the purpose of the lot’s acquisition for use as a burial ground (Deed Book MR No. 19:677; Milano 2011:121). William Cramp and other members of a church committee sold the burial ground lot on Montgomery Street to the city of Philadelphia for $2,500 on November 23, 1861. The deed makes no mention of the burial ground. The lot, 60 x 190 feet, became the site of the Chandler Combined Secondary and Primary School, named for Reverend George Chandler. A permit to build the school was issued in June 1862 (Philadelphia Inquirer, 2 July, 1862:8).
Phase IB/II investigations revealed that the majority of the former 1st Presbyterian Church cemetery grounds today lay beneath an asphalt parking lot situated between I-95 and the former Chandler School building (now converted into apartments). A small portion of the burial ground plot, encompassing its far northeast corner, does extend into the current I-95 project area and was tested for the presence of intact graves during this investigation. The results of that testing is presented below.
Throughout the twentieth century, the site area appears to have been little changed and remained primarily open, undeveloped yard space. In the late 1960s, the state of Pennsylvania purchased and demolished properties within this block in preparation for the construction of I-95. The site area was ultimately filled in and landscaped in association with highway construction but, based on the results of archaeological testing, these activities had little impact on the continued preservation of subsurface cultural deposits.
Phase IB/II archaeological testing, consisting of two stages within the study area, was completed between 2009 and 2013. Before excavation began, a single Cartesian grid was superimposed over both Blocks 1 and 2 (see Figures 7 and 8). Grid north was approximately 47 degrees east of true north and was generally aligned with northbound I-95 and street and building orientation.
Excavations within Section 5 Blocks 1 and 2 consisted of exploratory trenches, mechanically stripped areas or blocks (Strip Blocks A–F), and 5-x-5-foot excavation units (EUs). The initial mechanically stripped blocks (three each in Blocks 1 and 2) measured approximately 30 x 40 feet (not shown) and were placed at proposed pier locations along the northbound side of I-95. Shaft features (wood box, barrel, and brick) were exposed, along with other features, such as postholes, refuse pits, and outbuilding foundations. A total of 10 mechanically excavated trenches, measuring approximately 5 x 20 feet, were located along the west boundary of Block 1 (southbound I-95). These trenches were excavated to determine the possible presence of burials related to the First Presbyterian Church of Kensington (see Figures 7 and 8). The first stage of testing also involved the excavation of nine 5-x-5-foot units in Block 2 (Strip Blocks E and F), intended to establish stratigraphic sequences for the site, as well as to identify any potential intact soil horizons that could contain evidence of Native American occupation or historic midden deposits.
Due to the proposed replacement of the existing I-95 roadway structure, and likely disturbances related to the demolition of the existing concrete support piers and proposed drainage basins, additional Phase IB/II testing was carried out after consultation with PennDOT and PHMC. These additional excavations consisted primarily of expanding on the previously excavated strip blocks, which were widened east-west approximately 50 to 100 feet, and extended across the entire right-of-way (Strip Blocks A–C in Block 1, and D–F in Block 2; see Figures 7 and 8). Removal of fill and overburden exposed additional areas of surviving A horizon and features largely consisting of wood box, barrel, and brick privy shafts. Other features, such as postholes, refuse pits, and outbuilding foundations, were also exposed. Excavation units were placed in areas where surviving A-horizon soils were observed in order to identify potentially significant historic yard deposits and evidence of Native American occupation.
In addition to the testing outline above, one other location was investigated—a roughly rectangular piece of property located east of the Block 2 viaduct, at the corner of Berks Street and Delaware Avenue. This area measures 67 feet along Berks Street and extends 115 feet along Delaware Avenue. Only a small portion of this 0.18 acre (7,705 square feet) was tested, as it was the site of a former billboard and several abandoned structures. As this property is depicted as being an open courtyard on the 1916 Sanborn map, 13 excavation units were employed to determine if intact A-horizon soils were present (see Figures 7 and 8).
During Phase IB/II testing, all (100%) excavated soils from intact soil horizons, as well as from identified intact feature deposits, were screened through 1/4-inch hardware cloth. In select cases, further wet screening through 1/8-inch mesh was undertaken on site. All recovered artifacts were retained in labeled plastic bags pending laboratory analysis and cataloging. Historic fill deposit soils were screened if it was determined that artifacts recovered would contribute to the overall interpretation of site stratigraphy or a specific fill deposit. The locations of all trenches, strip blocks, excavation units, features, and select artifacts within the study area were mapped utilizing the site grid and a total station theodolite. All privy and refuse pit features were first bisected in order to determine the nature of fill deposits and significance of artifacts. If these features were comprised of primary nineteenth-century deposits containing notable artifacts (i.e., not modern or debris/rubble fill), the features were fully excavated. All profiles, whether of intact or disturbed features, were recorded through scaled hand drawing and high-resolution digital photography. All profiles of excavation units and trenches were also recorded through scaled hand drawing and digital photography. All excavation units, trenches, and features were fully documented through the use of standardized paper field forms and their contexts/horizons described using a modified Harris Matrix recording system. Harris Matrix data included descriptions of soil horizons using the USDA soil classification system and Munsell color charts.
Phase IB/II Testing
Completion of Phase IB/II investigations in Section 5 Blocks 1 and 2 involved the excavation of 77 5-x-5-foot EUs (Block 1=53; Block 2=24), 10 trenches (Block 1), and six strip blocks (see Figures 7 and 8). Investigations at the site produced an assemblage of approximately 156,625 artifacts (based on field counts), including items of both prehistoric and historic manufacture. Historic materials constitute the single largest class of artifacts recovered from the total assemblage, consisting of a variety of domestic and architectural items potentially dating from the early nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries. Prehistoric cultural materials are represented primarily by flaked stone tools, debitage, and FCR. Diagnostic artifacts present in the assemblage range from the Middle Archaic through the Early Woodland culture periods.
Unit excavation revealed that overall, profiles tended to represent an upper layer of modern fill (Stratum I/Context 1) associated with I-95 construction-related activities, overlying intact plowzone (Stratum II/Context 2; Ap-horizon), E-horizon (Stratum III/Context 3), and B/Bthorizon (Stratum IV/Context 4) soils (Figure 9). Beneath the modern fill, testing encountered intact soils throughout the entire study area. In this area, intact historic ground surfaces were perforated by a series of stone, brick, and concrete foundations associated with a variety of domestic household structures dating to the early nineteenth through twentieth centuries. Disturbances in these instances were confined to relatively limited areas within and surrounding the exposed foundation walls.
In portions of the study area containing wetland deposits, intact to partially truncated Ap-horizon soils varied between 0.5 and 1.5 feet in thickness and consisted of dark yellowish brown (10YR 4/4) silt loam (Figure 10). Underlying E-horizon soils were present in the eastern portions of the site, but not in the westernmost parts. The soil matrix consisted of a layer that varied between 0.1 and 0.4 feet in overall thickness and consisted of light gray (10YR7/1) sandy silt. Underlying strata consisted of B-horizon soils—strong brown (7.5YR5/6) sandy clay— exhibiting highly oxidized characteristics.
Prehistoric Site Component
The completion of unit excavations in Blocks 1 and 2 resulted in the recovery of two separate Native American artifact assemblages each containing debitage, various flaked stone tools, FCR, and groundstone tools. To date, prehistoric pottery has not been identified during field excavations. Although no in situ cultural features were recovered, one concentration of argillite blades was identified. It is probable that the cluster of bifacial blades is part of a disturbed cache. Overall, diagnostic artifacts from Blocks 1 and 2 represent Native American occupations dating from the Middle Archaic to Early Woodland temporal periods, and are comparable to nearby sites: Gunnar’s Run South (36PH162) and Shackamaxon #2 (36PH163) (Figure 11).
The Native American loci identified in Blocks 1 and 2 are distinguished by distinct soil profiles representing two types of landforms: a low-lying terrace derived from aeolian soil deposition (Block 1) and a landform consisting of a toe or foot slope, adjacent to a wetland or low-order intermittent stream (Blocks 1–2). As a result of the parent material originating from long-term (aeolian and alluvial) soil deposition, determining the vertical distribution of artifacts and the correlation of specific soil horizons with temporal boundaries is problematic. All Native American artifacts from Blocks 1 and 2 were recovered in the uppermost Ap horizon.
The Native American locus in Block 1 was identified in 10 EUs (Figure 12). Although low numbers of debitage (e.g., argillite, chert, jasper, quartz, and quartzite) and FCR were identified, the quantities of flaked stone tools, particularly bifaces, define this occupation. Approximately 20 stone tools were identified during field excavations, including one groundstone celt, eight complete bifaces, eight bifacial fragments, one sidescraper, and two broken/snapped scrapers. The only raw material not represented in the assemblage is rhyolite. Spatial distribution of Native American flaked stone tools indicates the majority were distributed in two distinct site areas (see Figure 12). Specific loci consisting of debitage or FCR were not identified. The concentration of argillite bifaces was identified in EU 54. A jasper Orient Fishtail biface, one chert sidescraper, and a broken/snapped scraper were recovered from EU 53. Diagnostic artifacts from this locus date from the Middle Archaic to Early Woodland temporal periods, and include one Oriental Fishtail biface, two stemmed variants, and one serrated/reworked bifurcate biface (Figure 13). In addition, the entire assemblage identified in EU 54 consists of argillite bifaces described as variants of Poplar Island (Figure 14). An examination of the Block 1 assemblage revealed edge damage on the bifaces indicative of heavy use, with no evidence of refurbishing of toolkits. For example, the jasper bifurcate found in EU 53 is serrated and heavily reworked, serving predominantly as a knife and/or scraper. In addition, visual examination of the ears of the bifurcate identified heavy use. Examining the tool using high-power microscopy revealed that both ears were of frequent use as gravers on a fairly rough surface (Figure 15).
EUs 11 and 13 in Block 2 yielded a smaller cluster that included one chert endscraper and one reworked chert biface (EU 11) and a jasper endscraper (EU 13) (Figures 16 and 17). Approximately 50 flakes were recovered from excavations and included jasper, chert, and quartz raw material. FCR was present; however, it did not exhibit significant horizontal patterning. An examination of tool edge damage for the Block 2 prehistoric artifacts produced comparable results to that of Block 1 (Figure 18). No diagnostic artifacts were recovered. No spatial patterning was identified during excavations, and the distribution of artifacts occurred across the entire strip block. It is probable that this occupation extends beyond the current study area limits.
More recently, subsequent unit excavations in the southwestern section of Block 2 have identified a partially intact prehistoric hearth. Designated Feature 736, this semi-circular hearth was defined by high densities of cobble-sized FCR, pockets of charred wood, and reddish soil (Figure 19). A single argillite biface was found in association with the FCR. One carbon sample was submitted for AMS dating to Beta Analytic, LLC. Feature 736 returned an age of Cal. BC 3563 (median probability; Telford et al. 2004; Reimer et al. 2009). Comparatively, this indicates that the Block 2 Native American component predates the one discovered in the nearby Gunnar’s Run South Site (median probability of Cal B.C. 2496) by approximately 1,000 years.
Historic Site Component
Historic-period artifacts were also recovered over the entire study area and are largely domestic household related. All artifacts were identified exclusively from plowzone soils (Ap horizon) or in association with historic features that continued into underlying soil horizons. Domestic household-related artifacts occurred continuously across the site and are largely represented in fragmentary ceramic and glass domestic refuse, as well as smaller quantities of architectural debris, such as window glass and nails.
A combined total of 657 historic features were identified in Blocks 1 (n=167) and 2 (n=490), with most dating clearly to the mid-to-late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries. These were most commonly associated with domestic household lots and structures or small commercial businesses. As a whole, the domestic household features identified in Blocks 1 and 2 were represented by stone and brick building foundations (n=16); postholes and molds (n=490); brick (n=7), wood box (n=25), and barrel (n=22) shaft features (n=54); refuse pit features (n=52); five animal burials; two drainage sumps; 16 utility trenches; and 22 unidentifiable stains. Artifacts from these features are dominated by domestic glass, ceramics, architectural artifacts, and personal items (Figures 20 and 21). All household-related features within the study area are located in backyards of domestic structures formerly located within and adjacent to the project area. Numerous glass vessels recovered from wood-lined box and barrel privy shaft features provide strong evidence that the occupants of houses within the project area were directly involved in the local glass making industry in both Blocks 1 and 2.
Preliminary testing of the historic 1st Presbyterian Church property, restricted to that portion within the limits of the I-95/GIR project area, was undertaken in an effort to define the extent of the churchyard relative to the current APE, and to identify the presence or absence of historic interments. Testing consisted of ten shallow (extending only to the top of intact soils), mechanically excavated trenches spaced out along the western margins of the I-95 ROW, between Palmer Street and Montgomery Avenue (see Figure 7). Although several of these test trenches exposed historical features (i.e. brick-lined shafts, post molds), only Trench 7 yielded evidence of the burying ground.
Trench 7 was located closest to Montgomery Avenue, and measured 26 feet long, four feet wide, and four feet deep. A 13-foot square extension was subsequently excavated along the south edge of the trench in an effort to expose additional area within the historic churchyard. The upper one foot of material removed from the trench consisted of layered fill deposits containing large quantities of gravels. A very thin, partially truncated A-horizon lay immediately below the fill. An historic utility disturbance, likely sewer associated, extended across the trench, and basement rubble was found at the extreme eastern corner of Trench 7. Despite these impacts, both the primary trench and the southern extension exhibited few disturbances that extended below historical ground surface and into the subsoil.
At the western extent of Trench 7, near the adjacent parking lot, archaeologists identified four distinct grave shafts exposed by the removal of the overlying fill deposits. These shafts were all located on an axis nearly parallel to Montgomery Avenue, and were oriented northwest-southeast (Figure 22). Three of these shafts extended beyond the limits of the trench. The fourth grave shaft was appropriately sized to contain the remains of an infant, but no measures were taken to confirm this estimate.
After documenting the shafts, archaeologists sought to determine whether or not the graves contained intact burials and burial remains, and a small window was excavated through the grave shaft fill of Burial 1. Grave shaft fill was removed to a depth of 5.7 feet below ground surface, at which point archaeologists exposed the decomposed lid of a hexagonal coffin. The boards of the coffin lid had shifted and separated while buried, exposing extremely decomposed—but otherwise in situ—human vertebrae below the lid. These remains were photographed and mapped in place, but were not removed or otherwise disturbed, and the trench was mechanically backfilled after documentation was completed. Though no other grave shafts were tested to determine the presence of intact burial remains, the results from this work suggests that additional intact burials are very likely to be present in other portions of the former cemetery.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Based on the results of Phase IB/II testing, the Section 5 Blocks 1 and 2 sites have been determined to represent a mixed prehistoric and historic-period archaeological resource, and it is URS’ opinion that the artifact deposits and features contained here are eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. It is believed that planned construction activities related to I-95—which are to include the installation of new utility conduit and drainage features, the demolition of the existing roadway, the construction of new foundation piers, and, likely, landscaping activities—will have a serious negative impact on the continued integrity and preservation of these resources.
Native American artifacts from Blocks 1 and 2 provide an informative perspective to understanding settlement patterns along the Delaware River waterfront. In particular, these sites provide an opportunity to initiate a comparative analysis to nearby sites, specifically Gunnar’s Run South (36PH162) and Shackamaxon #2 (36PH163). Based on the results of the Phase IB/II testing at Blocks 1 and 2, we do see similarities to sites described as procurement/processing sites adjacent to wetlands (i.e., Shackamaxon #2 and the Late Archaic component of the Gunnar’s Run South Site). In contrast, differences are noted when Blocks 1 and 2 are compared to the Transitional Archaic and Early Woodland component of the Gunnar’s Run South Site, described as a micro-band base camp situated on a higher terrace/upland formation. Further investigations of Blocks 1 and 2 could contribute to an analysis of the occupation of particular landscapes through time, perhaps indicating a specific Delaware River waterfront pattern that is influenced by the use of tidal environments.
Several discoveries in Blocks 1 and 2 indicate that Native American occupations in this vicinity are the oldest yet documented in Philadelphia. The earliest dated site along the Delaware River
waterfront had previously been the Gunnar’s Run South Site, dated to Cal B.C. 2496. The C-14 date for Feature 736, however, indicates the presence of a Middle Archaic occupation dating the approximately 3563 B.C. The identification of a bifurcate biface also indicates an earlier habitation site dating to the Middle Archaic. Other flaked stone tool artifacts were recovered during excavations that have not been previously recorded at nearby I-95/GIR Native American sites and that also point to earlier occupations. These artifacts include two trianguloid endscrapers, two broken/snapped wedge-like scrapers (similar to pieces esquillies), and a sidescraper—all three prominent types in Paleoindian and Early/Middle Archaic assemblages. Two of these tools developed heavy patination from post-depositional processes. Though it is recognized that these tools can be associated with later cultural periods, they lack representation on previously excavated sites ranging from the Late Archaic to Late Woodland temporal periods (i.e., Remer Site, Shackamaxon #1, Gunnar’s Run South, Dyottville Glassworks, Girard/Richmond Site, and Hope Farm/Richmond Hall). However, it is possible that the occupations represented by this particular set of assemblages at Block 1 and 2 represent the procurement of a particular type of floral or faunal resource, rather than an earlier occupation.
The historic midden deposits appear to be fairly uniform across the site, and are generally represented by highly fragmented domestic artifacts dating to the late eighteenth through twentieth centuries. Despite efforts to identify areas containing a preponderance of earlier artifacts—and therefore possibly associated with the earliest occupants of this location—no unambiguous patterns of differential distribution could be clearly delineated. As a result, historic artifacts contained in the buried ground surface are likely to be less useful in understanding the occupational sequence for any given house lot, and would be difficult to attribute to any specific household.
Historic features within the site, on the other hand, have generated both a larger volume and higher quality of data than the midden artifacts. Artifact-bearing strata within these features
have been tentatively dated from the early through late nineteenth century and do have the potential to generate significant information about individual properties and specific households or occupations. Phase IB/II testing data suggests that there are likely to be a considerable number of similar currently unexcavated features spread throughout the site that could be investigated through more intensive archaeological excavation.
Based on the findings presented in this management summary, URS believes that both the prehistoric Native American and historic components of the Section 5 Blocks 1 and 2 sites (designated Fishtown 1 and 2) are eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Given that these resources are likely to be severely impacted during proposed highway construction activities, it is recommended that additional Phase III data-recovery investigations be conducted within the site in order to mitigate the effects of such impacts.
Based on current understandings, planned construction activities associated with the I-95/GIR project will not impact any portion of the former 1st Presbyterian Church cemetery contained
within the present project area. As such, it is not recommended that intact burials within the project area be exhumed and relocated at this time. However, if construction plans change in the
future, and is determined that intact burials will be impacted, appropriate relocation plans will be developed in conjunction with PennDOT and PHMC.
Circa 1777 Map of Philadelphia and vicinity during the British occupation. Historical Society of Pennsylvania Map Collection, Call number: Of610ca.1777b.
2011 Electronic document, http://services.arcgisonline.com/arcgis/services, accessed August 2011.
Baist, G. William
1895 Baist’s Property Atlas of the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. G. Wm. Baist, Philadelphia.
Cramp, Charles H.
1909 Old Kensington District and Its Memories: Profit and Adventure in Privateering – Perils and Excitement on the Mississippi – Stimulus in Coal Trade and Shipbuilding – Proud Record in Marine Architecture – “Fishtown” and Its Heyday. Public Ledger Magazine, March 9, Philadelphia, PA.
1681 A map of the improved part of the Province of Pennsilvania in America: begun by Wil. Penn, Proprietary & Governour thereof. London.
Milano, Kenneth W.
2009a Shackamaxon Timeline. Electronic document, http://kennethwmilano.com/page/Encyclopaedia/Shackamaxon/ShackamaxonTimeline/tabid/209/Default.aspx, accessed March 2012.
2009b The History of Penn Treaty Park. The History Press, Charleston, SC.
2010 Hidden History of Kensington & Fishtown. The History Press, Charleston, SC.
2011 Palmer Cemetery and the Historic Burial Grounds of Kensington and Fishtown. The History Press, Charleston, SC.
2013 Rev. George Chandler. Electronic document, http://kennethwmilano.com/page/Encyclopaedia/KensingtonPortraitsBiographies/KensingtonBiographies/1stPresbyterianChurchStainglassWindowBiograph/RevGeorgeChandler/tabid/276/Default.aspx, accessed November 2013.
Reimer, P.J., M. G. L. Baillie, E. Bard, A. Bayliss, J. W. Beck, C. Bertrand, P. G. Blackwell, C.E. Buck, G. Burr, K. B. Cutler, P. E. Damon, R. L. Edwards, R. G. Fairbanks, M. Friedrich, T.P. Guilderson, K. A. Hughen, B. Kromer, F. G. McCormac, S. Manning, C. Bronk Ramsey, R. W. Reimer, S. Remmele, J. R. Southon, M. Stuiver, S. Talamo, F. W. Taylor, J van der Plicht, and C.E. Weyhenmeyer
2009 IntCal09 and Marine09 radiocarbon age calibration curves, 0–50,000 years cal BP. Radiocarbon 51(4):1111–1150.
2002 Old Kensington. Pennsylvania Legacies, Volume 2, Number 2. Historical Society of Philadelphia.
Telford, R. J., E. Heegaard, and H.J.B. Birks
2004 The Intercept is a Poor Estimate of a Calibrated Radiocarbon Age. The Holocene 14(2):296-298.
Sanborn Map Company
1916 Insurance Maps of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Volume 3. Sheet Nos. 252 & 253 cover the section 5 project area (Palmer to Montgomery to Berks). Sanborn Map Company, New York.
Scharf, J. Thomas, and Thompson Westcott
1884 History of Philadelphia, 1609–1884, Vol. 3. L. H. Everts and Company, Philadelphia.
Scull, Nicholas and George Heap
1753 A Map of Philadelphia and Parts Adjacent. London.
Simcoe, John Graves
1844 Simcoe’s Military Journal. A History of the Operations of a Partisan Corps, called the Queen’s Rangers, commanded by Lieut. Col. J. G. Simcoe, During the War of the American Revolution; illustrated by Ten Engraved Plans of Action, &c. Now First Published, with a Memoir of the Author and other additions. New York: Bartlett & Welford.
Wagner, Daniel P.
2011 Personal communication to Senior Archaeologist Douglas Mooney regarding geomorphological interpretations of soils examined within the Gunnar’s Run South Site; Aug. 11.
Wharton, Thomas I.
1884 Reports of Cases Adjudged in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, in the Eastern District. Philadelphia, T. & J.W. Johnson & Co.