In 2004, archaeologists investigated the remains of a late nineteenth-century African-American community on a ridgetop just outside of Lawrenceburg. This small community was likely founded by formerly enslaved individuals shortly after the end of the Civil War. The site's name is derived from Lizzie Marshall, who was also known as Lizzie “Peanickle” because of her fondness for English peas and her thriftiness for saving pennies and nickels.
Residents grew vegetables, raised hogs, and had milk cows on their small plots of land. By the early 1920s, families began to leave Peanickle to take jobs with the booming distillery industry. They settled in an African-American neighborhood in Lawrenceburg.
An archaeological survey of the site identified the architectural remains of 10 houses. House foundations revealed that the buildings had two or four rooms and an associated cellar. The presence of both late machine-cut and wire nails suggested that some structures were built shortly after the Civil War, when both types of nails were in use. The association of only wire nails with most houses, however, suggested that the bulk of the structures in the community were built after the 1890s.
The spatial distribution of building remains indicated that the community was organized into small family farmsteads. Each consisted of one to two houses and outbuildings that included sheds, kitchens, barns, and root cellars. Residents appeared to have shared a cistern and well.
Grave markers found in several locations suggested that some families buried their dead near their home, while others used the community cemetery. Few fences separated properties, and according to oral traditions, families shared many resources.
Post Civil War African-American Communities
At the end of the Civil War, many formerly enslaved African Americans moved to cities north of the Ohio Valley to work for wages. Others moved to neighborhoods in nearby cities, such as Davis Bottom in Lexington.
Still others joined with their neighbors to establish their own rural communities. Peanickle was one such community. It offered residents several advantages, beyond a sense of community. They could grow their own food, raise livestock, and work as farm laborers. They also had access to nearby towns for the goods they needed.
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