Date of Award

2006

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

Advisor

Alaric Faulkner

Second Committee Member

Richard Judd

Third Committee Member

Warren Riess

Abstract

Most people have an interest in local history, usually driven by a passion for identifying themselves within the context of a certain time and place. Marr's Island, in the Sagadahoc River in Georgetown, Maine, is one small place in an area with a long history. There is an archaeological site on the island consisting of a foundation and cellar of a house built in 1791. Historical archaeology is an effective approach in learning about life on the island. It is based on a combination of research techniques that utilize documentary evidence, material culture, and archaeological theory to interpret the past. This theis is a result of an archaeological investigation of the Marr's Island Homstead site (ME 168-023) conducted between 2004 and 2005. The excavation of the five square meters resulted in the collection of over 5,000 artifacts. Historical evidence from land transactions, genealogy and census records combines with archaeological evidence of the Marr family's occupation of the island to create an historical interpretation. This thesis demonstrates the author's ability to interpret information from a variety of sources, and to create a history of a particular place in the light of a broader historical and archaeological context. The Marr family made two successive occupations on the island between 1791 and 1840. John Mars and family moved there because of the island's access to marine resources. John relied on fishing for sustenance and income. He built a typical hall and parlor house, and appears to have been of middling economic status. His son Isiah lived in the house after John left in 1808. The Marrs purchased dometic and imported goods, displaying a preference for fashionable, if not expensive, stye of ceramics. Plagued by death, economic instability and drawn to opportunities for land and work on Georgetown Island, members of the Marr family abandoned their island homestead by 1840. They left behind an archaeological site, and a family cemetery. The homestead site remained relatively undisturbed, even when the current owners built upon it. It has escaped development and other disturbances, which is rare for coastal sites. Marr's Island's intact archaeological record offers valuable information about domestic life in Maine in the Federal Period.

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