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Archaeological study shows Litchfield site's long pattern of human use

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

“There’s a lot of history on this land,” Mary Manz said this week as she surveyed an overgrown tract in Litchfield where she once operated horse stables.

The property is now dotted with litter and the crumbling remains of buildings, including the stables, above which Manz had an apartment for more than 20 years. But soon it will be part of a new community park.

This latest use will be one of many the property has been put to over the centuries.

Originally inhabited by Native Americans, the 31-acre parcel, bordered by Litchfield Country Club, was once part of Litchfield Plantation. It was broken up into smaller plots around the end of the 19th century and was used for “intensive farming” by African-American families through the first part of the 20th century, and timber harvesting by International Paper Co. in the 1950s and 60s, according to an archaeological survey of the property conducted by the Chicora Foundation in November 2006.

The property was being considered for sale as the site for a residential development then. Those plans were the reason Manz, 60, who leased the property, was evicted in early 2006. She raised three children there, gave riding lessons and hosted summer camps.

Manz is one of many whose life story is tied to that land, and she saw evidence when she lived there of those who came before her.

“I would just walk out to the horse pastures after a good, hard rain and scrape the dirt up a little bit and find all kinds of things,” she said.

She picked up enough fragments of Native American pottery to fill buckets, along with Native American pipes, arrowheads and items from the Revolutionary War.

“None of them were very far down,” she said. “I never really had to dig.”

“Of course,” she added, “that was after the horses had been out there all day turning up the dirt. It’s really overgrown now.”

She said her horses used to gather around her, trying to see what she was up to when she was looking for artifacts.

Manz’s best find at the property was a brass gunstock with a mark of the British monarchy stamped on the bottom. She gave it to a man who wanted to have it appraised and never saw it again.

She was walking, thinking about the sad fate of Native Americans who had been forced off the land by settlers, and was getting emotional, when she found a piece of melted glass in a perfect tear shape, she said. It was a very “spiritual” moment and she’ll hold onto that memento forever, she said.

The archaeological survey said there are plenty of artifacts on the property, but nothing “significant.” Most pieces were small and fairly close to the surface.

Prehistoric artifacts were all pottery or lithics. The property was heavily impacted by plowing and other activities that occurred over the years, it said.

Cheryl Ward, director of Coastal Carolina University’s Center for Archaeology and Anthropology, said the kinds of items found are typical for this area.

“One of the really wonderful things about living in this area for me is that truly everywhere you go, you find the stories of people who have lived there before,” she said.

As for further study, any interest is unlikely.

“You have to weigh the value against what you could do somewhere else with the same amount of money,” Ward said.

However, for Manz, the site and all its treasures will always be special. She lives in Winnsboro now, but still has family in the area and said she likes to visit the property from time to time when she’s nearby.

Manz said she likes the idea of the land becoming a park. It should have children and laughter on it again, she said.

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