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Archaeologists starting fieldwork at the Frazer Farmstead site

Frazer Farmstead

Site ID: 15Hr42

Military; Farmstead
Kentucky Archaeological Survey
Unless specified, we cannot provide site location information.


​​​​​​The Frazer Farmstead was founded on the South Fork of the Licking River just north of Cynthiana in 1817 by James Finley. The property went through several owners before Dr. Joel C. Frazer purchased it in 1845. Frazer lived there a few years and then passed the land on to his son, Hubbard Frazer, who lived there until his death in 1860. 

Archival and archaeological research revealed that the Union Army incorporated this site into Camp Frazer (also known as Camp Tod) during the American Civil War.  At that time, the Frazer house was used as a hospital and for storage by the Union Army.  Confederate troops under John Hunt Morgan burned down part of the house on July 17, 1862, during their raid on Cynthiana. The rest of the house was burned on September 2, 1862, when the Union Army abandoned the site. Archaeology was undertaken at the Frazer house prior to the construction of a highway bypass around the town of Cynthiana.​

Foundations of the Frazier house: in the background is a cellar pit in front of a hearth.


​​​The focus of archaeological investigations at the site was the remains of the farmstead, which consisted of an intact limestone foundation, hearths, and interior cellars. Investigations revealed that the house was constructed around 1820 and had been enlarged several times. By the 1860s, when it was occupied by Union troops, it had at least six rooms. The presence of burned architectural materials, such as nails and window glass, supported the archival research, which indicated that the 18th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry used the house as a hospital from late 1861 until Confederate troops under General John Hunt Morgan burned it on July 17, 1862. Investigations suggested that a portion of the house remained standing after Morgan’s Raid.

Following the​​ US Army's reoccupation of Cynthiana, Union soldiers used the Frazer farm from July 25 to September 2, 1862. A portion of the house served as storage for the 45th Ohio’s Quartermaster. Soldiers burned their supplies as they evacuated Camp Frazer on September 2, 1862.  

Many of the artifacts recovered from the site are typical of what would be expected in a Quartermaster’s store. The presence of infantry officer uniform buttons indicated that members of the United States Infantry occupied the site. Arms-related items indicated that the troops were equipped with a variety of small arms, including .32 caliber revolvers, and possibly Model 1816 muskets that may have been modified for percussion ammunition.

Burned brass Eagle Buttons.

What's Cool?

Military Supplies Preserved in a Cellar​

Archaeological research conducted at the Frazer Farmstead confirmed that the Union Army used the cellar to store supplies, as indicated by the large quantity of brass, iron, and bone buttons rec​overed from the site. Of note was the discovery of a concentration of military “Eagle” buttons in one of the cellars. 

The large number of plain four-hole iron buttons may have been attached to clothing or stored in a wooden box at the time of the fire. In comparison, the large number of burned four-hole bone buttons may have been associated with US Army-issued tents that were lost when the quartermaster’s stores were burned. These tents, which measured 5.2 by 4.8 feet, were fastened with bone buttons. 

Burned bone buttons from cellar.

Burned caset-iron buttons from cellar.

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