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Archaeologists investigate the Wyatt Farmstead

Wyatt Farmstead

Site ID: 15Kx85

Kentucky Archaeological Survey
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​​​​​​​​​In 2013, archaeologists uncovered the remains of an early to mid-nineteenth-century house on a small knoll along the Cumberland River in Knox County.  Samuel Wyatt, a native of Virginia and a Revolutionary War veteran, had established a farm there in 1811.  

Wyatt was 56 years old and had developed several successful farmsteads in northern Tennessee and nearby Whitley County, Kentucky before settling in Knox County.  He and the nine people he enslaved built the house and worked the farm until his death in 1835.  His wife, Rebecca, and their adult children continued to work the farm until her death in 1842, when her heirs sold the farm to Levi Hoskins and his wife Sallie.  

Like Wyatt, Hoskins was in his 50s and left a successful farmstead to move to Knox County.  Although Hoskins had built some wealth using enslaved labor at a farm in Harlan County, there is no record that he enslaved people to work the old Wyatt farmstead.  Hoskins, one of the wealthiest farmers in the area, worked the land with his family until his death in 1875. ​​​

Personal objects:  watch chain part (left) and parasol or umbrella parts (right).


​Having lived his entire life in the mountains, Samuel Wyatt developed his farm following the terrain of his land holdings.  Thus, the main house, slave houses, and outbuildings were dispersed along the edge of a knoll and adjacent ridges in order to maximize the amount of available level farmable land.  

Researchers determined that the main house measured approximately 60 by 40 feet and was likely built of logs.  The west side of the house sat on wooden post piers, while the east side probably sat directly on the ground.  

Levi Hoskins likely made improvements to the house when his family moved in, repairing and replacing the wood piers with stone.  Based on the dates of the artifacts, the house was demolished in the mid-1870s shortly before or just after the death of Levi Hoskins.  

Burned nails, ceramic dish fragments, and glass were found in trash pits and a pit cellar in front of the fireplace. Large amounts of wood charcoal also were recovered from the site. These data suggested that the house caught fire prior to being dismantled.

Burned nails.

What's Cool?

​A Quick Escape

​Archaeologists think that the Hoskins Family was still living in the house when it burned.  They based this on the recovery of unburned gold-plated jewelry from the bottom of the pit cellar in front of the fireplace.  

As the family fled, they do not appear to have had enough time to collect all of their personal possessions.  They never returned to retrieve them. 

Gold plated jewelry from the pit cellar.

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