HOWARD COUNTY, Md. (WJLA) — Clues to Maryland's past are being uncovered in Howard County.
We're finding things like lost buttons, ceramics, and bottle glass. All things that can tell us how people lived," said Dr. Julie Schablitsky, Chief of Cultural Resources at the Maryland Department of Transportation.
Schablitsky and her team of archaeologists are seeking to learn more about the people who occupied two cabins in Elkridge during the 18th and 19th centuries.
"They would have been built for either enslaved or other domestic help for the furnace or working at the big house next door," said Peter Morrill of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
The two-week project is a partnership between MDOT and DNR that has archaeologists pulling artifacts from the soil near the historic Elkridge Furnace in Howard County.
From the mid 1700s to the late 1800s, historians believe slaves, indentured servants and convict laborers lived and worked on the property while enduring brutal conditions.
Donna and Daniel Wecker lease and manage the former home and tavern, now known as the Elkridge Furnace Inn and Garden House. They said they've been pushing for this part of the National Park Service's Underground Railroad Network to Freedom to be excavated so the real story can be told.
There were slaves here and stories about how they were seeking their freedom. Debunking this myth, 'They were happy how they were kept.' No, they weren't, they wanted to be free like the rest of us," Daniel Wecker said.
The $50,000 archaeological project is exposing Maryland's painful history hundreds of years later while providing amazing discoveries.
"Right here next to [where] the foundation is we found this old shoe," Schablitsky told reporters while inside one of the historic cabins.
Morrill said the artifacts will be used to educate and enlighten for years to come.
"With that information, our hope is that we can preserve or better interpret this site to the public," he said.
When the project is complete, the artifacts will be sent to the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum in St. Leonard, Maryland.