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Galbraith Plantation


Data recovery investigations were conducted at the Galbraith Site (23LF138) in the summer of 2002 by the Archaeological Research Center of St. Louis (ARC) under contract with the Missouri Department of Transportation.  These investigations were performed in advance of the construction of a relocation of Route 65 as part of a new approach for the replacement bridge over the Missouri River at Waverly, Missouri.  The relocated highway will adversely affect the Galbraith Site, determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, which could not be avoided.  Mitigation of the Galbraith Site utilized a multi-disciplinary approach including an intensive archival research on the property and the surrounding region, interviews with past occupants of the property, architectural documentation of the residence and associated outbuildings, limited archaeological testing and mechanical stripping of the site area, and the hand excavation of uncovered archaeological features.  These various lines of information were used to provide a clearer understanding of the people and changing cultural patterns that took place in this section of Missouri over the past 170 years.

Galbraith house

Construction history of the primary residence

Robert White may have first occupied the site in 1825, but it was certainly used by the Alexander Galbraith family in 1829. 

Archaeological investigations revealed two cellar pits and a probable chimney base likely associated with a Double Pen style residence.  At about the same time, a larger Stack type of residence for the Galbraith family was constructed forming southeastern portion of the standing residence, with the Double Pen residence likely serving as the home for some of Galbraith’s slaves. 

The Galbraith family initially settled on the property with five slaves, but by 1860 the number of slaves had risen to fourteen, nine of whom were young teenagers and children.  A third cellar pit found near the house could mark the location of a summer kitchen connected with the c. 1829/30s Stack house construction. Artifacts associated with the buildings provided insights into the lives of the Galbraith family and their slaves. 

The house was subject to major alterations in the 1870s, when the property was taken over by Horace Galbraith.  Horace, an influential businessman from Waverly, had the home modernized so that it more fittingly reflected his social standing in the community.  Other features disclosed during excavations include privy pits, and the remnants of several outbuildings dating to both the 19th century and early 20th century.  Using this multi-disciplinary approach provided a much fuller understanding of the Galbraith family and their times, than using only one or a small number of these techniques.

The report, entitled Data recovery investigations at the Galbraith site (23LF138): an historic farmstead in Lafayette County, Missouri (2004), is available on-line through the Missouri State Library.



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