Case Studies in Historical Archaeology: Waverly Plantation, Mississippi, by William Hampton Adams




Case Studies in Historical Archaeology:

Waverly Plantation, Mississippi

by William Hampton Adams



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Waverly: Where is it?
Waverly: History
Waverly: The Archaeology
Waverly: Bibliography of the Research at Waverly
Clay County: Historical and Genealogical Links



Waverly Plantation is located in eastern Clay County, Mississippi, north of the confluence of Tibbee Creek and the Tombigbee River. The nearest town is Columbus, Mississippi in neighboring Lowndes County.



George Hampton Young founded Waverly Plantation in 1841 and it remained in the Young family until 1963. This National Historic Landmark contains one of the South’s finest plantation houses complete with its own gas plant and swimming pool in the 1850s. Young founded the University of Mississippi and was a prominent political figure in Mississippi. Young owned 3420 acres and controlled much more; with 217 slaves, he was a big planter. In 1893 the National Fox Hunters Association was organized at Waverly. After the Civil War, a tenant and sharecropping system was established and this lasted until the 1930s.

Historical Archaeology

In 1979, archaeological excavations were conducted at six tenant farmer sites, a general store, a brick kiln, and a steam-powered cotton gin and sawmill, under the direction of William H. Adams, Timothy B. Riordan, and Steven D. Smith. Historical geographer Howard Adkins researched the documentary history of this black tenant farming community. Folklorists David F. Barton and Betty J. Belanus interviewed 89 informants, 43 extensively; their recordings are in the Library of Congress, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and the Indiana University Folklore Archives. This study marked the first archaeological investigation of tenant farming in the South. The community approach used to study tenant farmers and planters provided a broader historical context for the material recovered. Adams and Smith compared the purchases recorded in the general store ledger with the artifacts from those tenant sites to evaluate what kinds of items were not being recovered archaeologically.



Adams, William Hampton (editor)

1980 Waverly Plantation: Ethnoarchaeology of a Tenant Farming Community. National Technical Information Service. xxii+722 pp.; 142 figs.; 118 tables; 3 microfiche.

Adams, William Hampton, Dale L. Martin, Jack D. Elliot, Jr., and James E. Adams

1979 Test Excavations at Waverly Ferry, Clay County, Mississippi. National Technical Information Service PB81-103822. vi+179 pp.; 60 figs.

Adams, William Hampton and Steven D. Smith

1985 An historical perspective on Black tenant farmer material culture: the Henry C. Long Store ledger at Waverly Plantation, Mississippi. Archaeology of slavery and plantation life, edited by Theresa A. Singleton, pp. 309-334. Academic Press, New York.

Brose, David

1990 Yesterday’s River: The Archaeology of 10,000 Years Along the Tennessee-Tombigbee River. Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland.

Riordan, Timothy B. and William H. Adams

1985 Commodity flows and national market access. Historical Archaeology 19(2):5-18.

Smith, Steven D.

1983 A comparison of the documentary evidence of material culture and the archaeological record: store ledgers and two black tenant sites, Waverly Plantation, Mississippi. M.A. Thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Kentucky, Lexington.

Genealogical Links

The GenWeb Project provides very useful data for not only the genealogist, but also anyone interested in the history of a region.
The links here will take you to the web sites for Clay County, the Mississippi, and the USGenWeb.
Individual counties vary, but often include census data, inscriptions of cemetery headstones, wills, deeds, diaries, letters, photographs, and other historic documents.
Clay County GenWeb Site
Please support local history by serving as a volunteer in your local museum, library, or genealogical society. Many such places are recording their local history and placing it on the web for everyone to use. If you cannot donate your time, consider donating funding to support the preservation of local heritage.


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All information is copyrighted, 2000, by William Hampton Adams. All rights reserved.

Last updated Monday, February 12, 2001.