Clark Farm Tenant House
Archaeological Site

East Granby, Connecticut

A glimpse into the lifeways of African-American farm laborers in Connecticut . . .


This was the site of a small house that was occupied from ca. 1860 to ca. 1940. For most of that period, it served as housing for tenants of the Clark family, large landowners and farmers who lived nearby in East Granby center. A long-term occupant was John Jackson, a farm laborer of African-American ancestry. Archaeological features include fieldstone foundation walls, a partial cellar, a privy site, and a shallow dug well. The site was the subject of limited archaeological testing undertaken in 1998 to determine its integrity and the likelihood of its containing meaningful cultural remains. Numerous ceramics and other artifacts from the 19th and early 20th centuries were obtained from test units within and adjacent to the foundation walls, indicating both a relatively low degree of disturbance and the presence of archaeological materials of interest. Since then, the foundation has been filled in order to stabilize and protect it.

The site is significant for its potential to shed light on the lifeways of Connecticut's rural farm laborers, a group that is not as well represented in traditional history writing as their more affluent neighbors. In the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century, increased specialization in agriculture, particularly dairy farming and tobacco cultivation, resulted in large farming operations that were dependent upon non-family labor, and during this period the number of "hired men" who worked for others rather than farming on their own increased. Although many hired men were "Yankees" like their neighbors, persons of African-American or European-immigrant heritage were over-represented among Connecticut's farm laborers. Two living situations were common for farm laborers: boarding within the household of property-owning families, and living apart in small tenant houses that were owned by landholders.

The Clark Farm Tenant House Site offers an opportunity to sample the material culture of farm laborers and learn more about the type of house they lived in, what they ate, how they dressed, and what particular skills they practiced within the local agrarian economy. The limited archaeological testing already performed suggests that the site has good integrity and could, if further investigations were undertaken, be expected to yield additional informative artifacts such as ceramics, buttons and buckles, tool fragments, bottles, and botanical and faunal remains.

For a quick look at some key artifacts, click on the images below:

Typical button Image of a patent-medicine bottle Image of a 'dollar' watch Image of a beer bottle Image of trolley tokens Image of a group of ceramics


For Additional Information . . .

This Web presentation was created with funds provided by the Connecticut Historical Commission. It is based upon archaeological investigations of the Clark Farm Tenant House by Public Archaeology Survey Team, Inc. of Storrs, Connecticut, which were funded by the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

Web design by Lisa Centola and Bruce Clouette, PAST, Inc., June 2001.