Dendrochronological Dating of Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus Virginiana L.) Logs from Alfred's Cabin, the Hermitage, Home of President Andrew Jackson

Publication Type  Journal Article
Year of Publication  2009
Authors  Lewis, D. B.; Nelson, W. L.; Grissino-Mayer, H. D.; Cook, E. R.; Jones, R. D.
Journal Title  Tree-Ring Research
Volume  65
Issue  1
Pages  47-55
ISBN Number  1536-1098
Accession Number  ISI:000263037700006
Key Words  tree-rings; dendroarchaeology; construction history; log cabins; alfred's cabin; the hermitage; tennessee

Alfred Jackson was an enslaved African American born on The Hermitage plantation (outside Nashville, Tennessee) of President Andrew Jackson around 1810, and lived most of his life on the plantation. Staff from The Hermitage wished to better understand and interpret lifeways of those once enslaved on the plantation, but the date of construction of Alfred's Cabin first had to be determined. Was it built when Alfred was enslaved or was a freedman? We extracted nearly 100 core samples from eastern red cedar logs used to construct the cabin. Of these, 39 cores were used to develop a master tree-ring chronology for the cabin. Crossdating of the Alfred's Cabin chronology was accomplished using an eastern red cedar chronology developed by the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Tree-Ring Laboratory at Columbia University in Palisades, New York. The 39 series from Alfred's Cabin resulted in it high-quality master tree-ring chronology, with an average inter-series correlation of 0.66 and an average mean sensitivity of 0.28. Graphical (skeleton plot and line plot) comparison and statistical crossdating with COFECHA anchored the Alfred's Cabin chronology firmly between 1749 and 1842 (r = 0.45, n = 94 yrs, t = 4.83, p < 0.0001). Cutting dates of these 39 trees ranged from 1841 to 1843. This latter date indicates that the final trees used to construct the cabin were harvested in spring or early summer of 1843, with final construction of Alfred's Cabin occurring soon after.


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