Ghost Walls: The Story of a 17th-Century Colonial Homestead


Product Details

Carolrhoda Books (R)
Publish Date
7.4 X 10.33 X 0.53 inches | 1.25 pounds

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About the Author

Sally M. Walker has been a children's book writer for over 20 years. Most of her books are nonfiction and present various science topics to young readers. Fossil Fish Found Alive is the story of the hunt for the elusive fish called the coelacanth. Sally also enjoys combining science investigation with historical topics. Her book Secrets of a Civil War Submarine, which won the 2006 Robert F. Sibert Medal, tells about the history, loss, and re-discovery of the first submarine to sink an enemy ship in battle. Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland takes readers on archaeological expeditions, where the forensic analysis of colonial settlers' bones helps us to understand their lives. Sally especially enjoys writing narrative nonfiction that captures the reader's attention with a true story. She is also the author of 2019 Orbis Pictus Honor Book Champion: The Comeback Tale of the American Chestnut.


"In 1638, Maryland provincial secretary John Lewger built the colonial equivalent of a McMansion, a two-story, four-room house that was doubtless the envy of his neighbors. It not only served as the Lewgers' home but also as the official assembly house for the colony, and it was thus the site of several well-documented episodes of the period's history. By the early 1700s it fell into neglect, was cannibalized for building materials, and nearly slipped from notice until the 1960s, when archaeologists attempted a first excavation. Others followed, and now the homestead is preserved as a partially excavated, partially reconstructed artifact enclosed within a modern museum. Walker focuses on the past and ongoing research that has brought the estate back to life, discussing the physical excavations and the search for documentary evidence that occasionally overlap with each other, much to the delight of investigators. Teens fascinated by archaeological fieldwork will appreciate Walker's inclusion not only of the dig but the reasoning behind many of the archaeologists' conclusions (often tentative and changeable) concerning use of space and artifacts. There are also plenty of good stories for history buffs, from the gruesome murder of a servant (likely a slave), to trials concerning deaths of neighboring Yaocomaco Indians at the hands of white settlers, to the occasion of the first-known vote cast by a person of African descent in colonies. Plentiful illustrations include photographs of the excavated sites, artifacts, and documents, as well as computer-generated reconstructions of the homestead at various points in its history. A timeline, source notes, bibliography, and index are appended." --The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

-- (1/1/2015 12:00:00 AM)

"Just as Walker's Written in Bone (2009) dealt with forensic anthropology at colonial sites in Virginia and Maryland, her latest book introduces the work of archaeologists at another significant location. Using the excavation at the site of St. John's, a long-lost house in St. Mary's, Maryland, as the focal point, she opens the book with the harrowing story of a slave cruelly killed outside the house in 1656, then begins the discussion of excavations at the site, which began in 1962 and continue today. The book traces the house's history chronologically while also detailing the methods and discoveries of archaeologists as well as related research on the period. Along the way, Walker offers a great deal of miscellaneous information about colonial life in Maryland, from building practices to legal disputes to governance to women's roles. The many illustrations include digital drawings of the house at various periods and archival documents as well as many color photos of sites, artifacts, and costumed interpreters. A detailed resource for those studying colonial Maryland, this well-researched book will also interest aspiring archaeologists." --Booklist

-- (9/15/2014 12:00:00 AM)

"The site of a 17th-century home owned by a colonial Maryland official reveals the story of its origins with the help of historians and archaeologists. An early citizen of the Maryland colony, John Lewger built a home for his family and servants that reflected his stature. One hundred years after its establishment, the house was gone, and the role it played in the early years of American history was seemingly lost. However, historians and archaeologists were able to literally unearth information about the structure of the house and lifestyle of its inhabitants. The tension inherent in operating a system of indenture alongside a growing number of slaves is just one of the stories revealed by historical documents. With great attention to archaeological detail, Sibert medalist Walker explores the work of the scientists who studied every aspect of the site, both physically and through historical records. The author's considerable skill at bringing historical stories to life is on display. However, the level of detail makes for a slow read. The text is quite dense, although the plentiful illustrations provide strong visual support. A few of the bookmaking decisions, such as the use of green ink in captions and the font size, may be problematic for some readers.Though it doesn't sparkle like some of her earlier works, there's much here for patient readers." --Kirkus Reviews

-- (9/1/2014 12:00:00 AM)