Location: Alabama, United States
Old St. Stephens was an important site during the settlement of the southwestern frontier in the early 19th century. During a brief three decades St. Stephens became a Spanish Fort, an American trading post, and Mississippi territorial capital as settlers streamed down the Federal Road from the Carolinas and Georgia. At its zenith, c. 1820, the town boasted two or three thousand residents and 450 substantial buildings. Following its boom St. Stephens declined rapidly becoming a ghost town by the 1850s. Excavation this season continues to focus on the Globe Hotel site. Built c. 1816, the large stone building had a detached kitchen, slave's quarters, well, stables, and other outhouses. In 1826 the property was bought by Reuben Chamberlain, a native of New Hampshire and War of 1812 veteran. He and his wife Hannah, the daughter of Judge Harry Toulmin, bought the property, opened a dry goods business, and raised their family in the small community until the 1840s when the property was abandoned to the woods. Several seasons have uncovered the main structure, slave's quarters, kitchen, and stables. This year we will focus on three areas; a rich midden near the slave's quarters, the well area, and two privies. The site is pristine and rich in the material culture of the early 19th century. The Alabama Museum of Natural History Expedition Program manages the camp. Archaeology is directed by USA archaeologist George Shorter. A typical day starts with a hot breakfast, site or lab work until noon, lunch, back on site until 3:30....swimming in the quarry lake, hot dinner, nightly program. One day of paleontology will be conducted in the adjacent quarry.
Period(s) of Occupation: Early 19th century, southeastern frontier settlement
Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Three days to one week
Room and Board Arrangements
Most participants camp on site using their own equipment or tents and cots provided by the program. RV camping is available in the park for an additional fee ($85/wk or $15/day) Hotel accommodations are available in Jackson, Alabama, 20 minutes from the site. All food, supervision, camping supplies, and excavation equipment are provided by the program as part of program fee.
Brantley, William, H., Jr., Three Capitals, A book about the First Three Capitals of Alabama: St. Stephens, Huntsville, and Cahaba, 1818-1826., 1947, reprinted 1976, Univ of Al Press, Tuscaloosa
Hamilton, Peter J., Colonial Mobile, 1910, reprinted 1976, Univ of Al Press, Tuscaloosa
Mattie, Jacqueline A., Doris Brown, and Barbara Waddell (compilers), Old St. Stephens: Historical Records Survey, 1999, St. Stephens Historical Commission, St. Stephens, Alabama
Strickland, Ben and Jean, Records of the Choctaw Trading Post, St. Stephens, Mississippi Territory, 1816-1824, Book 2, 1984, Autors publication, Moss Point, MS
Welsh, Mary, Reminiscences of Old Saint Stephens, Transactions of the Alabama Historical Society 1898-99, Vol. III: 208-226, 1899,