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Dan S. Allen
403 Uptown Square, Suite F Murfreesboro, TN 37129 Phone: (615) 692-8703 email@example.com
Prepared For: Mr. Larry Feldhaus; For the benefit of the Friends of Sylvan Hall (Philips) Cemetery
During the fall of 2013, archaeologist and conservator Dan Sumner Allen IV conducted a detailed survey and conservation of the Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery, a family burial ground located on the North Fork of Ewing Creek in northern Davidson County, Tennessee. The investigation was designed to survey and conserve the Philips Cemetery, a burial ground associated with the extended family and descendants of early settler, Joseph Philips and his wife, Milbrey Horn. Heavily vandalized during the 20th century and further damaged by natural processes such as falling trees and limbs, the goal of the project was to define the cemetery grave locations and recover, and conserve its architectural elements including its stone fence enclosure and gravemarkers. The area subjected to survey and conservation is approximately 0.06 acre in size located in the 21st Civil District on uplands over the floodplain of the North Fork of Ewing Creek (Figure 1 through 3). The Sylvan Hall (Philips) Cemetery is located at latitude 36.2650079,
longitude -86.7611322011014 in Davidson County, Tennessee. The burial ground is surrounded by private residences and enclosed within a dry-stacked, dressed limestone fence. The objective of this report is to document the project and the materials and methods used during conservation.
Figure 1. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery location adapted from USGS Whites Creek, TN topographic quadrangle map dated 1995.
Figure 2. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery location adapted from Davidson County tax map.
Figure 3. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery location adapted from Davidson County tax map.
Description of the Study Area The Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery is currently located on a hilltop east of Oxbow Drive in the 21st Civil District of Davidson County north of and overlooking the floodplain of the North Fork of Ewing Creek (Figure 1- 3). The study area subjected to archaeological survey and conservation is perhaps the only undisturbed remnant of the core of the Philips farm site and approximates 0.06 acre in size. The Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery measures roughly 50 feet (NW-SE) by 50 feet (SW-NE) or 2500 square feet. The area surrounding the cemetery is currently residential subdivision and the cemetery adjoins the rear yards of several residences. Prior to conservation, the groundcover within the stone fence enclosure consisted of a dense mixture of overgrowth which has been removed but remains under continuing treatment to kill its active root system. A very robust growth of vinca minor, the traditional ground cover planted in regional historic cemeteries can still be found across the site. Conditions Prior to Conservation The Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery was in very bad condition when assessed prior to conservation efforts (Figures 4 – 10). It is surrounded by a dry-stacked, dressed limestone fence measuring approximately 50 feet square which originally had no gate. The dominant surface marker in the cemetery is a style known as the “bedstead” monument consisting of separate headstones and footstones imitating eternal “beds” of rest. The cemetery contains two obelisks; monuments consisting of multiple elements stacked upon large base grave covers. It also contains three “box” or “false” tombs, grave covers popular during and after the 1850s, and three tabletop style grave covers similar to box tombs but resting on legs rather than sides and ends. The ledgers of the box and table monuments are inscribed, horizontal stone (primarily limestone) tablets resting on corresponding vertical side, end, and/or corner stones. All of the box, or “false” and tabletop monuments, as well as both obelisks had been displaced and extremely fragmented, in some cases their fragments scattered across the interior of the stone fence enclosure. Two of the tabletop monuments near the center of the cemetery were delaminated beyond repair. Sections of the capstones retaining the coursework, or substructure of the stone fence enclosing the cemetery were also displaced. As part of the conservation efforts during this project as many elements of the stone fence as practical were stabilized and the capstones reset. Prior to conservation, the interior of the stone fence was heavily choked with inappropriate brush and the surface markers exhibited extensive damage as a result of vandalism and natural processes including as tree falls. Virtually all of the bedstead style gravemarkers were vandalized by being pounded with an instrument such as a bat or club repeatedly. As a result, most of the tops of the vertical head and footstones were broken and missing. In some cases these tops were recovered from below the surface of the cemetery but not all could be found. All of the surface marker elements were moderately to heavily encrusted with biological growths such as lichens and mosses. Near its southwest corner, the stone fence exhibited severe buckling as a result of the growth and subsequent death of a mature tree (Figure 4). An attempt during the 20th century to repair the stone fence at this particular location with modern concrete was moderately successful but during the course of this conservation project it was determined to remove this unstable section of the fence to provide easier access to the cemetery (Figures 24 and 25). 5
Figure 4. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery; southwest corner prior to brush removal (view west)
Figure 5. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery; interior of west wall prior to brush removal (view northwest) 6
Figure 6. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery; northwestern corner prior to brush removal (view northwest).
Figure 7. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery; interior north wall prior to brush removal (view north). 7
Figure 8. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery; northeastern corner prior to brush removal (view northeast).
Figure 9. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery; interior east wall prior to brush removal (view northeast). 8
Figure 10. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery; southeastern corner prior to brush removal (view east).
The objectives of the project were to identify the grave locations of the Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery and conserve its architectural elements. Archaeological investigation of the Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery was based upon two physical methods; intensive surface examination and systematic probing of the cemetery area using a ball-swaged tile probe. The primary objective of the surface examination was to record any visual evidence suggesting the presence and specific locations of inhumations. That visual evidence is most often expressed in historic cemeteries by the visual presence of gravemarker elements on the surface and rectilinear depressions suggesting disturbance of the ground surface during grave excavation. The objective of the tile probe method was to systematically sample subsurface contexts across the cemetery area for the presence of disturbance (i.e. grave shafts) or for the presence of stone gravemarker elements not visible on the surface. Simplistically, the golden rule of historic preservation is “don’t do anything you can’t undo” and this was the basic philosophy of conservation efforts at the Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery. However, the Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery was severely vandalized; very few of its surface markers retained any of their original integrity. Most of its gravemarkers had been displaced and fragmented, and were in such deteriorated conditions that small exceptions were made to this rule in order to save them from total destruction and loss. Where at all possible, the 9
higher-stated standard was adhered to and reversibility considered. The conservation improvements followed standard preservation methods based upon a variety of technical resources including but not limited to; A Graveyard Preservation Primer by Lynette Strangstad (Nashville: American Association for State and Local History, 1988); the technical briefs of the Association for Gravestone Studies (AGS); and the technical briefs of the National Park Service (NPS) and the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT). The conservation project was initiated by photo-documenting all surface markers and the damaged stone fence prior to improvement. Following initial documentation, all inappropriate brush was removed from the cemetery manually using gas-powered push mowers, chainsaws and string trimmers. After the brush was removed, the stone fence and surface marker conditions were photo-documented a second time. The conservation began immediately on grave markers retaining all their elements or simply requiring resetting and cleaning. During the project, additional subsurface architectural elements recovered across the cemetery were reconstructed at their original locations based on archaeological evidence or cross-mending fragmented stones with their corresponding gravemarker elements. All aspects of the conservation project were documented through detailed notation including a photographic record of the stone fence and each gravemarker documenting conditions prior to improvement, as the project progressed, and following improvement in order to document conservation methods, materials, and results. The project consisted of a single primary objective; conservation of the architectural elements of the Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery including its surface markers and stabilization of its stone fence. The scope of the conservation work included repair of all broken surface markers as practical, resetting of any grave markers that were canted or in danger of falling, and cleaning of all surface markers encrusted with biological growths. All fracture repairs were performed using an adhesive marketed as Sikudur 32, Hi-Mod Gel (Sika Corporation), a two component, solvent-free, moisture insensitive, high modulus, high strength, structural epoxy resin paste adhesive. After adhesion, a composite sand mortar comprised of a ratio of; 2 parts white Portland cement, 4 parts hydrated lime, 8 parts fine white graded sand, (hardness-adjusted based upon repair type) was used to point the remaining visible fracture line to restrict moisture penetration of the repairs. The surface markers in the cemetery were generally in very poor condition although most were evident on or directly below the surface. Virtually all of the surface markers required resetting and fracture repairs, and many were missing large sections of their ledgers and box elements. Once the fractures were repaired the monuments were reset and cleaned. The gravemarkers were cleaned with a solution which removed only the biological staining on the stone leaving the patina intact. After cleaning the composite mortar was used to point the remaining visible fracture line to restrict moisture penetration of the repair. Material Specifications Epoxy Resin: Sikudur 32, Hi-Mod Gel (Sika Corporation) Description: Two component, solvent-free, moisture insensitive, high modulus, high strength, structural epoxy resin paste adhesive. 10
Silica quartz, Calcium carbonate, Digilycidyl ether of bisphenol A, Neopentylglycol digilycidyl ether, Nonyl phenol. Composite material: 1 part White Portland cement, 4 parts hydrated lime, 8 parts fine white graded sand, color-adjusted (hardness/color-adjusted based upon stone and repair type, conforms to ASTM C270 Type K) Cleaning Solution: Non-ionic solution of 1-3% Prosoco BioWash or Kodak Photo-flo and H2O followed by clear water rinse.
Historical Overview The following section provides general historical context for the Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery and home site from its earliest historic period (post 1792) through the nineteenth century. Considered one of the oldest cemeteries in Davidson County, the early history of the cemetery and study area has not been very developed. According to an overview of the cemetery history available on the Friends of Philips’ Sylvan Hall website (available @ http://www.lfeldhaus.com/philipssylvanhallcemetery/id4.html) correcting misinformation and referencing other information taken from A History of Tennessee and Tennesseans written by William T. Hale and published in 1913 (Volume VII; Page 2024), Joseph Philips and his wife Milbrey Horn with daughters Sarah, Mary, and Rebecca immigrated to Tennessee (then North Carolina) from Philips’ birthplace on Swift Creek near Tarboro, North Carolina about 1791. Their journey was overland bringing with them their household goods, livestock, and nine slaves. The family settled in Davidson County, where Philips bought a tract of 640 acres of land and established his home approximately six miles north of Nashville. They first erected a log cabin which the family occupied until March of 1804, when it was burned. Philips next erected a substantial house considered one of the first brick homes built in Davidson County. Known as Sylvan Hall, the house remained in the family until about 1915 and was extant until about 1963. A portion of an original log barn built about 1792 also survived until that time. With the help of his slaves Philips developed his farm and engaged in general farming at Sylvan Hall until his death in 1818. It is thought that the Philips' Sylvan Hall Cemetery received it's first burial in 1792 soon after the death of Rebecca, daughter of Joseph Philips and his wife. The earliest inscribed gravemarkers are for burials which occurred in 1811. The stone fence around the cemetery was built about 1823 as directed by the last Will and Testament of Joseph Philips, who died in 1822. In addition to Philips, those buried in the cemetery include family names of Horn, Williams, Sumner, Harding, McIver, Porter and others. The last burial occurred in 1879 and was that of William D. Philips, documented as landowner of the farm on the Foster Map of 1871 shown in Figure 11.
Figure 11 Historic map of the project area adapted from 1871 Map of Davidson County Tennessee, from actual surveys made by order of the county court of Davidson County, surveyed and mapped by Wilbur F. Foster, Civil and Topographical Engineer; New York : G.W. & C.B. Colton & Col., 1871 (Scale ca. 1:35,300). Results of Archaeological Survey As a result of the systematic examination and probing, the enclosed Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery was determined to measure approximately 49 feet (east to west) by 58 feet (north to south), or 2842 square feet (ca. 0.065 acre). This physical dimension should be extended on the west and south of the cemetery in respect to the ten-foot construction buffer required around the perimeter of graves by the current Tennessee State Burial Laws (Tennessee Code Annotated 468-103) which also establish the right of family members to visit the graves of their ancestors, even though someone else may own the property. In addition, if a cemetery is shown on a deed, the immediate owner and future buyers have an obligation to protect the graves from disturbance. A copy of the current state burial laws can be accessed online at http://www.tn.gov/environment/arch/pdf/historiccemeteries.pdf. The inhumations are oriented toward sunrise (east) in the traditional Christian burial pattern of the nineteenth century. Due to magnetic declination, the graves are presently oriented about 8 degrees west of magnetic north. Within the stone fence enclosure, they are arranged in 4 12
Figure 12. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery plan view (adapted from Friends of Philips’ Sylvan Hall Cemetery website, “2013 Index of Graves,” available @ http://www.lfeldhaus.com/philipssylvanhallcemetery/id7.html)
Key to Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery plan view shown on the previous page. #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 # 8 SOUTH # 8 NORTH # 9 SOUTH # 9 NORTH #10 #11 #12 #13 #14 #15 #16 #17 #18 #19 #20 #21 #22 JOHN HUDSON SUMNER JOSEPH JOHN SUMNER WILLIAM HENRY SUMNER JOSEPH PHILIPS CHARLOTTE PHILIPS HENRY HORN PHILIPS WILLIAM P. HARDNG AND MILBRY C. PHILIPS WILLIAM WILLIAMS SARAH “SALLY” PHILIPS ELISHA WILLIAMS SARAH JOSEY J. P. WILLIAMS JOSIAH FREDERICK WILLIAMS MARGARET THOMAS PHILIPS WILLIAM DUNCAN PHILIPS & ELIZABETH DWYER JOSEPH PHILIPS & MILBIRY HORN ELIZABETH “BETSY” NORFLEET WILLIAMS HENRY HORN WILLIAMS MARTHA WILLIAMS SARAH PHILIPS ROBERT WILLIAMS MARY WHARTON WILLIAMS WILLIAM WILLIAMS DAVID D. WILLIAMS
rows, primarily based upon familial association. Table 1 presents the identities of individuals based upon extant gravemarker inscriptions. The orientation of the burials in the traditional Christian burial pattern of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries reflects a belief in the Rapture, an event accompanying the return of Jesus Christ during the end of the world described in the New Testament of the King James Version of the Bible by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Thessalonica, (King James Version; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ
shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. The rising of those who are still alive to join the resurrected dead is known as the Rapture. The traditional Christian method of positioning the coffin or body in the grave was to place the body supine, the head to the west and feet to the east. The reason for this positioning is synthesized from the King James Version of the Book of Matthew 24:27; “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be .” For Christian believers in the Rapture, positioning the body in reference to east will allow the resurrected dead to see the return of the Christ. Inhumations buried in this pattern rarely align with magnetic east. This variance in alignment results from using the position of the sun on the horizon as a reference for direction rather than magnetic alignment. The popularity of the Christian ideology of Rapture profoundly affected burial patterning in Tennessee and became prevalent in both European and African-American cemeteries, remaining the dominant burial pattern well into the 20th century. Although it is thought that the first burial in the cemetery may have occurred about 1792, chronologically, and based upon the inscriptions of extant gravemarkers present in the cemetery, the date range of interments in the Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery is between 1811 and 1879. The most intensive periods of burial in the cemetery occurred during the 1810s (n=4), 1820s (n=5), and the 1850s (n=4). Results of Conservation Figures 13 through 28 illustrate the results of conservation improvements to the architectural elements of the Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery. The conservation project was accomplished by archaeologically recovering, cross-mending, and repairing the fragmented architectural elements of the cemetery, resetting those parts, and cleaning. All the box tombs and obelisks required rebuilding and resetting. Where practical, fragmented ledger stones and obelisks were repaired, reset on their respective bases, and cleaned. Many of the fragments were missing, especially the box tomb elements (Gravemarker #1, #2, #15) and the tabletop monuments (Gravemarker #11, #12, and #20), and a bedstead marker(Gravemarker #6) as well as a portion of an obelisk (Gravemarker #9). As a result, the remaining fragments of these ledger stones were cross-mended and the missing fragments were replaced using a composite sand mix material comprised of grey Portland cement, slaked lime, and sand to fill the voids of missing pieces. In addition, most bedstead monuments within the cemetery had been heavily vandalized and the tops of their headstones fractured by repeated blows with a blunt object. The majority of the bedstead style monuments were reset to a vertical position and the tops of their vertical limestone tablets repaired as they were recovered and crossmended.
Figure 13. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery; Gravemarker #8 before (top) and after (bottom) conservation (view west). 16
Figure 14. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery; Gravemarker #10 before (top) and after (bottom) conservation (view west).
Figure 15. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery; Gravemarker #15, 16, and 17 prior to conservation (top; view west) and Gravemarker #15 following conservation (bottom; view southwest).
Figure 16. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery; Gravemarker #16 (top) and #17 (bottom) following conservation (view west).
Figure 17. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery; Gravemarker #20 prior to (top) and following conservation (bottom; view west).
Figure 18. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery; Gravemarker #23 and #24 prior to (top) and following conservation (bottom; view west).
Figure 19. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery; Gravemarker #9 prior to (top) and following conservation (bottom; view west). 22
Figure 20. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery; Gravemarker #11 and #12 prior to (top) and following (bottom) conservation (view west).
Figure 21. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery; Gravemarker # 6 prior to (top) and following conservation (bottom; view west).
Figure 22. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery; Gravemarker #14 prior to (top) and following conservation (bottom; view northwest).
Figure 23. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery; Gravemarker # 1 and #2 prior to (top) and during conservation (bottom; view southwest).
Figure 23. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery; Gravemarker #1 and #2 following conservation (view west).
Figure 24. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery; new access created in unstable section of the stone fence [view south (top) north (bottom)].
Figure 25. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery following conservation (view northeast).
Figure 26. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery following conservation [view north (top) and east (bottom)].
Figure 27. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery following conservation (view west).
Figure 28. Philips (Sylvan Hall) Cemetery following conservation (view northeast).