History of the Deason House, Jones County, Mississippi as told by Proxies

Authors: David Holt*, University of Southern Mississippi, Grant Harley, University of Idaho, Justin Maxwell, Indiana University, Bloomington, Christopher Speagle, University of Southern Mississippi
Topics: Climatology and Meteorology, Historical Geography
Keywords: Dendroarchaeology, GPR, Dendro
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Grand Ballroom C, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Despite the historical importance of the Deason house, which played a role in the Civil War, oral accounts and written documents have failed to provide accurate construction history of the structure. We used complementary techniques—dendrochronological analysis and geophysical survey—to better understand the construction history of the Deason House and cultural activities of its inhabitants. We extracted 35 Pinus palustris (Mill.) timbers along the west-facing exterior weatherboards and from various logs within the second-floor attic, 25 of which were successfully crossdated against a P. palustris reference chronology located 15 km south in De Soto National Forest (1742–2013). The Deason House chronology anchored against the De Soto time series during the period 1742–1875 (r = 0.55, t = 4.01, p < 0.0001) and extended the reference chronology back to the year 1680. Clustering of timber cutting- and near-cutting dates revealed 3 possible stages of construction. First, the house likely existed as a single-pen structure built in the summer of 1835, based on two timbers with wane/bark that were affixed to the original chimney made of clay bricks fired on the homestead. Second, based on the clustering of 1855 cutting dates, we suggest this was the most likely time the original structure was expanded with a vestibule, porch, and larger 4-room house. Finally, six timbers revealed a back addition was constructed in the year 1866. Ground penetrating radar (GPR) helped provide evidence that the back addition (1866) existed as the detached kitchen then affixed to the structure ca. 1890.

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