Chaptico Indian village

Captain John Smith’s 1608 map of the region clearly deliniates Cecomocomo on the shores of the Wicomico River near present-day Chaptico.

Chaptico, MD – Archeologists will be returning to Chaptico later this summer to determine if they can find further evidence of an Indian village on the shores of the Wicomico River.

Dr. Julia A. King, professor of anthropology at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, said her students will be returning to Nancy Wolfe’s farm near Notley Hall in late August to look for more information.

“The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is making a documentary on oysters and called to ask us if we were digging in shell middens,” King said.

Boy, were they ever.

A shell midden, for those who may be wondering, is the result of thousands of oysters being consumed in Pre-Colonial history, the shells then deposited in huge piles that over time became part of the landscape.

King said the oyster middens they unearthed in Chaptico last year constituted “the largest shell midden I am aware of in this county.”

Her students dug 47 test pits plotted in cornfields revealing artifacts dating back 4,000 to 6,000 years. She said enough Woodland Period material, including remarkable pieces of Indian pottery, was found to indicate that the site might be Cecomocomoco or Secomocomoco, what was possibly the summer village of the Choptico Indians.

“The shell middens indicate this was one of the towns John Smith mapped in 1608,” King explained.

“Last year, we found a lot of Indian pottery, a stone bead and native copper,” she added. “We spent the rest of the year doing lots of analysis.”

She called the site, “underrepresented.

“We thought we would be out on the site earlier in the year,” King stated, “but we had to push it to the fall.”

“Now we’ll have to wait until the crop is off the field,” she said. “I’m told that the field is planted in soybeans, which don’t come off until November. At this rate, if that’s the case, we’ll be digging through the winter.”

King noted they have some additional work to do, including scanning the 20-acre site with remote sensing radar.

“We’re trying to use this technology to determine if there is a palisades, a house, or large subsurface pits,” she said. “We’re only going to dig two units this fall.

“It’s one hell of a cool site,” she gushed.

She also hinted that Wolfe is considering slowly transferring her property into a land trust.

“If it is the site of the Cecomocomo village, it adds one more reason why the place should be preserved,” she said. “It’s an important Indian town.”

Contact Joseph Norris at