It was such a perfect day Saturday we put everything aside to explore and do things we can only do now that the weather has cooled off. We were also checking out places that my daughter might enjoy when she comes to visit next month -- our first visitor!
We brought our picnic lunch to Hampton Plantation and enjoyed the wildflowers birds,
including a pileated woodpecker, while we ate.
We are waiting to tour the plantation house when Sarah is here but we found a new and interesting trail just off the picnic area.
It is a trail through the area of the slave homes near the plantation house and the rice fields where they worked along the South Santee River.
All the slave homes are gone, but you are encouraged to use your imagination to recreate what it was like 175 years ago as the slaves went about their lives and their work.
"As you travel this path you will walk where a community of enslaved men, women and children lived and worked. These slaves were the majority of Hampton's residents and much of the plantation's activity--both social and economic --occurred right here.
"Research suggests that at any time from the mid-1700s through early 1800s, roughly 100 slaves lived on the grounds of Hampton, growing crops, tending livestock, and manufacturing goods.
No above-ground traces of their lives remain but archaeological work is underway."
As you walked through the woods some of the buildings sites were marked with a display like this.
When you looked through the glass, the slave house seemed projected onto the forest.
It wasn't hard to imagine the women cooking over a fire in the yard, scrubbing laundry over a steaming cauldron, children running around laughing and chasing each other.
Beyond the homes were the rice fields along the river where the slaves worked under the "task system". Overseers set an amount of daily work for each slave to complete. A typical task was to hoe or weed a half acre of rice. When he finished, if he had energy left he was then allowed to grow food to provide for his own family.
It wasn't hard to look out over the rice fields and imagine women walking in the cold water in the spring, bent over row after row, 12 to 16 hours a day, planting the rice.
A plowman breaking up the drained soil in the spring before the fields were flooded.
Women harvesting the rice.
A slave community consisted of workers trained to do everything the isolated plantation needed. They were skilled workers -- blacksmiths, wheelwrights, carpenters, masons, shoemakers, blacksmiths, seamstresses, cooks, nannies, farmers, potters, housemaids.
Walking this trail, alone, through the woods, it wasn't hard at all to imagine a village of a hundred slaves going about their lives here, loving their families, nursing wounds inflicted by cruel masters, worshiping, sweating in the heat, crying over their aches and pains after long days of work, missing their African homes, celebrating births, burying their dead.