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One of many shotgun houses documented at KinKeadtown


Site ID: 15Fa214

Kentucky Archaeological Survey
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​​​​​​In the mid-1990s, archaeologists from the University of Kentucky excavated the remains of a late nineteenth-century African American neighborhood.  This work was undertaken prior to the beginning of the Rose Street extension project in downtown Lexington.

The neighborhood was established on land owned by attorney George Blackburn Kinkead following the Civil War.  Known as Kinkeadtown, it was developed with small shotgun houses and cottages that were primarily owned and occupied by African American familes.   But as Lexington grew, this semi-rural neighborhood became fully urbanized, many of the lots were subdivided, and more houses were occupied as rentals. 

Archaeologists investigating one of the twelve backyards. studied during the project


​The archaeological remains associated with the 12 house lots investigated during the project consisted of foundations, privies, cisterns, cellars, trash pits, and walkways. Most of the artifacts were recovered from the privies located in back of the shotgun houses.  Many were consumer goods. They included decorative ceramic and glass tablewares; medicine, beverage and food bottles; metal canned goods; and personal items, such as a hand-painted miniature portrait. 

Analysis of glass medicine and beverage bottles, and metal cans indicated that residents bought a variety of national brands and packaged foods.  Examination of the medicine bottle trademarks indicated that Kinkeadtown residents patronized local drug stores. However, only a few of the many Lexington drug stores were represented.  This could indicate that ​that African Americans could not shop in some stores or purposely supported certain establishments.

Hand-painted miniature portrait.

What's Cool?

​The Hummons Family

Around 1869, John and Iantha Hummons moved into a house built on a lot they bought from George Blackburn Kinkead.  They and four of their children lived next door to their son William and his wife, Emily and other son, Frank. William Hummons worked as a wagon driver and later as a blacksmith. Emily Hummons periodically worked as a cook for affluent white familes.  

Having family nearby improved a person's chances of successfully adjusting to freedom and urban life. Family provided support in the form of childcare for women who had to work outside the home and labor to build houses and other necessary structures. Nearby family could offer financial help in times of economic stress, and emotional support, too.

Decorated ceramic tableware from a Hummons Family privy.

​Researchers recovered highly decorated tablewares from the Hummons Family privies: transfer-printed dinner plates and tureens, ornately patterned glass tumblers, and other items. These items carried a relatively high price tag when new and distinguished the Hummons artifacts from those of their Kinkeadtown ​neighbors.  ​

Despite the age of the items, and, in some cases, unfashionable colors or patterns, setting a table with color-coordinated (even though mismatched) plates and bowls, and highly decorated pressed-glass tumblers imitated middle-class Victorian table settings. Only someone with a discerning eye for the fashionable styles of the day would have noticed a difference.  ​Hummons Family artifacts suggested to researchers that family members wanted to portray a sense of prosperity in their table setting.  

Decorative glass tableware from a Hummons Family privy.

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