Port Tobacco Commerce

Port Tobacco Commerce (HM2DQI)

Location: Port Tobacco, MD 20677 Charles County
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Country: United States of America
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N 38° 30.667', W 77° 1.2'

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During the 17th century, local Indians often traded corn and deerskins to colonists for knives, steel needles, kettles, cloth, and beads. By the early 18th century, while most colonists dispersed across the countryside to farm the land, a few—particularly Scottish émigrés—settled in towns, operating stores out of their houses. Both Stagg Hall and Chimney House are surviving examples of merchant houses and stores. Stagg Hall was built ca. 1740 for merchant John Parnham.

Stagg Hall's well-preserved interior woodwork (left) and exterior make Stagg Hall an extraordinary example of early Colonial architecture. Extensively restored in the 20th century, Chimney House (the Barnes—Compton House) was built for merchant Thomas Ridgate in the late 1700s.

Scots factors (agents of merchant firms in Glasgow and Edinburgh) and English merchants (immigrants and American-born) sold European goods for cash and on credit to the Potobac Indians and to town residents and area farmers. Cash was hard to come by, so deerskins, tobacco, and other agricultural products and implements, and slaves secured credit. Many of the 18th and early 18th-century artifacts recovered from Port Tobacco were imported from Great Britain.

By the 1750s Scots factors had established an extensive network of stores along the Potomac

River and sold European goods on credit in exchanged for tobacco, the cash crop throughout the Chesapeake. During the 1760s, Port Tobacco passed at least a million pounds of tobacco annually which was shipped to Britain, France, Holland, and Russia.

(Image of two structures.)
Chimney House and Stagg Hall, late 1800s.

(Image of Stagg Hall interior.)
Below the original interior woodwork at Stagg Hall was purchased by the Chicago Art Institute in 1932 where it remained on display until 1972. The late Robert Barbour purchased and reinstalled it in Stagg Hall.

(Image of one structure.)
Below, pictured around 1930, is Chimney House, noted for it impressive double-chimney with a three story pent. This type of chimney is a regional architectural feature of the late 18th and early 19th century.

(Map of Port Tobacco Village)
Yellow symbols below represent surviving historic buildings. Gray symbols are buildings that have disappeared since 1888.

(Inset with images of artifacts.)
Artifacts Unearthed

Above, Right, Italian or Dutch glass bead (Probable 17th or early 18th century) traded to the Potobac Indians for animal pelts or corn.

Left, A merchant or customer clipped this 1748-1759 Spanish dollar to make change,

Bottom left, Copper cent minted by the State of Connecticut between

1785 and 1789.

Right, tin-glazed punch bowl probably made in London, England in the 18th century.

(Four logos)
The Port Tobacco Archaeological Project

The Society for the Restoration of Port Tobacco
· (301) 934-4313
· www.RestorePortTobacco.org

Charles County Maryland

Maryland Heritage Area
Placed ByThe Port Tobacco Archaeological Project, The Society for the Restoration of Port Tobacco, Charles County Maryland, Maryland Heritage Area
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, January 21st, 2019 at 1:03pm PST -08:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 323879 N 4264460
Decimal Degrees38.51111667, -77.02000000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 30.667', W 77° 1.2'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 30' 40.02" N, 77° 1' 12" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)240, 301
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 8430 Commerce St, Port Tobacco MD 20677, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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