Interpretations and Summary

The kitchen materials are too small to permit restoration, or an estimate of the number and types of vessels represented. The ceramics also lack maker’s marks. These factors limit the utility of the assemblage for statistical analyses that could lead to interpretations of the socio-economic status of the site’s residents. Nonetheless, a few general comments can be made from a qualitative standpoint. Utilitarian ceramics, such as redwareyellowware, and stoneware, were inexpensive products that households of all status levels could have owned and used, and are therefore not good status indicators. Refined wares, however, are more useful due to a wider range of quality and value. On the more expensive end of the spectrum of ceramics available in the early nineteenth century are transfer printed and hand painted whiteware, and porcelain. Pearlware, and whiteware with spatter, sponge, shell-edge, or mocha decoration were less expensive. The test excavations at 13DB496 yielded 91 sherds of more expensive ceramics and 41 sherds of less expensive wares. The roughly two to one ratio of more expensive to less expensive ceramics suggests that the site was occupied by relatively well-to-do people. 

Structural features dating to the territorial period were not encountered in the test units. It is likely that construction of the late 1840s house, which presumably included the excavation of a cellar, destroyed earlier structural features. The fill excavated for the cellar was spread over the area surrounding the house, creating a new surface layer, and providing a stratigraphic key to the site’s history. The site was first occupied by Native Americans, who left behind refuse such as stone flaking debris and grit tempered ceramics. Historic artifacts commonly used in the 1820s and 1830s suggest Euro-Americans moved into the site area in the 1830s, as the historical record indicates. Euro-Americans scattered refuse about the site area on a surface that was stratigraphically very close to the surface occupied by Native Americans several hundred years earlier. When the time came to reconstruct the house in the late 1840s, excavation of the cellar cut through soils containing the remains generated by both Native Americans and Euro-Americans. The spoils generated by the late 1840s cellar excavation thus contained Native American and early Euro-American artifacts that were mixed together into a new surface layer surrounding the new house. The surface that was occupied in the 1830s and early 1840s was buried under the 20–25 cm thick overburden horizon. Feature 1 was also buried by the overburden and contains both Native American and early Euro-American artifacts, so the feature must have been excavated before the cellar, and must have been at least partly open when the cellar was excavated. 

Although the association of 13DB496 with the Langworthy family is reasonably secure, several factors combine to limit the importance of the site. First, the importance of the site’s earliest historic period resident, Stephen Langworthy, in the history of Dubuque is minor, since he was apparently retired when he arrived. The importance of Stephen Langworthy’s eldest sons is indisputable, but they were adults living on their own elsewhere in Dubuque and none can be shown to have any direct association with the site. Second, the stratigraphic separation of artifacts associated with the territorial component, and later periods, is weak. Much of the historic cultural deposit is a mix of materials spanning 150 years of occupation by Euro-Americans. The highly fragmentary condition of the artifacts sharply limits their utility for statistically valid interpretations about the site’s occupants. The paucity of documentation, particularly about the site’s territorial period use, similarly limits the interpretability of the site and its artifacts. 

Site 13DB496 is interesting as containing one of the few territorial period components that has not been completely destroyed by later development. Of course, there are lots of interesting archaeological sites; one might even say that all archaeological sites are interesting for one reason or another. Unfortunately simply being interesting is not sufficient to justify expensive, large scale excavations at sites that contain mixed assemblages. Due to the limitations in the available archaeological data, we won’t be conducting further work at 13DB496. The search goes on for pre-Civil War sites with artifact assemblages that are not mixed with those of later occupations.