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The Hoke House

Dendrochronology (tree ring dating)

Dendrochronology (tree ring dating) is a critically important tool for dating the construction of a structure.  CFHS has undertaken a tree ring study for several dwellings in Catoctin Furnace however the Hoke House is the first log worker house for which we now have an absolute construction date. Oxford Tree-Ring Laboratory was able to sample eleven timbers, all of which were white oak, and compare them to more than one thousand master chronologies. The results demonstrate that the timbers in the Hoke House were felled beginning in the summer of 1816, the winter of 1816/7, the winter of  1817/8, and the winter of 1820/1. The range of dates suggests that the timbers were cut over a period of several years and stockpiled in anticipation of future construction, with the Hoke House being constructed in the winter of 1820/1. 

Two other houses at Catoctin, the Forgeman’s House and the Anderson House, have also been successfully dated by dendrochronology (Worthington and Seiter 2014/11). Timbers used to construct the Forgeman’s House were felled in the spring of 1817 and the winter of 1820/1, while the dated timbers from the Anderson House were also felled in the winter of 1820/1. When taken together, the dates from all three of these houses suggest a large building campaign was undertaken with stockpiling of timbers for several years prior to a number of houses being constructed at roughly the same time; this substantial investment in building infrastructure at Catoctin Furnace appears to have occurred in the winter of 1820/1 or shortly thereafter, coinciding with the purchase of the furnace by a new owner, John Brien, in 1820.  
Read the full Dendrochronology report here