(Under the direction of Professor Gordon P. Watts) Department of History, April 1999.
The purpose of this thesis is to examine the archaeological remains of the nineteenth-century centerboard schooner Scuppernong. John Boushell constructed the vessel in Elizabeth City, North Carolina in 1853. The Scuppernong's historical and archaeological significance, therefore, stems from the fact that it is the only confirmed archaeological example of a North Carolina-built nineteenth-century centerboard schooner. Although there are other examples of centerboard schooners in the North Carolina archaeological record, none have been positively identified as being North Carolina-built.
This thesis utilizes both a regional and site specific methodology. The author presents a regional context for examining the Scuppernong by investigating geography and economics and their relationship to maritime ventures within the region. He discusses shipbuilding and vessel types in relation to the region's changing environmental and economic constraints, including the construction of schooners capable of traveling the Dismal Swamp Canal. In a site specific realm, the thesis includes discussion of Antebellum shipbuilding in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, the vessel's history, and the archaeology of the vessel, including vessel construction techniques and comparative analysis with other centerboard schooners previously located in North Carolina. The author concludes that the Scuppernong is an example of a vessel type known in the Albemarle Sound region during the nineteenth-century as a "canal schooner," designed specifically for travel on the Dismal Swamp Canal as well as open water, such as the Albemarle Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. The Scuppernong site presents an additional point of reference for future historical and archaeological studies regarding North Carolina shipbuilding and its techniques.