The archaeological dig at the L’Hermitage plantation in Frederick County, Maryland, offers the possibility of adding to our knowledge of slavery’s brutality in the Early Republic period. At the very least, it will help us better understand slavery in the Upper South.

It is a story of international upheaval, racial oppression, family complexity and, perhaps, a touch of religious bigotry. And it is a classic account of slavery in the decades before the Civil War.

The family brought to Maryland, most likely from Haiti, 12 slaves, the maximum allowed French refugees at the time. They included a 5-year-old boy named Lambert, an 8-year-old girl named Fillelle, two 16-year-olds — one of whom was born in Mozambique — and several adults.

But by 1800, the planters owned 90 slaves, making them the second-largest slaveholders in Frederick County at that time, Beasley said.