Wednesday, November 23, 2022

"You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know." -- William Willberforce, British politician, philanthropist, and leader of the movement to abolish slave trade

Monday morning started out so beautiful. By noon it was near 60° with a projected high of 64° and SUNNY! By mid-afternoon the sun was gone, the wind had picked up, and it was feeling colder.  

We got a late start but at least we got a start. Pat found a gas station restaurant that had good reviews. I had eaten breakfast late so he picked the dish and I had a little of his and I ordered some hushpuppies. It was good.

Next stop was Fort George Historic area, closed Mondays; Sanibel Island, closed Mondays; Hof-Wyl-Broadfield Plantation, closed Mondays; Butler Plantation, apparently just plain closed, but it wasn't gated and we could at least see the plantation.

The former Butler Island Rice Plantation was located on the Altamaha River. It was originally owned by Major Pierce Butler who at one point owned 505 slaves. Tragicly, in 1859, it was known for the largest slave auction ever recorded in U.S. history, over 430 slaves including men, women, and children were auctioned off to pay debts. It was known as the Weeping Time for the grief and sorrow of the many families torn apart. It was farmed for other crops until the 1940's. 

In recent years, vacant and headed towards becoming a distillery, a local group stepped up to save it and restore the house into a museum. While that effort seems to have been somewhat successful there appears to be a divide with the state and the house is currently closed to the public. 

Rice Mill Chimneys. Like these, most are square.

The current house was built in 1927 by Col. T. L. Huston, co-owner of the  N. Y. Yankees.

Tuesday was basicly a repeat of Monday, except we met with success. Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation State Historical Site was open. We had watched the video and almost decided to forgo this stop. So glad we didn't. We had 50 minutes to kill before our 11:00 tour of the inside of the house. We decided to skip the movie we had already seen and walked around the plantation.

Once a thriving rice plantation on the Altamaha River, the Howyl-Broadfield plantation was purchased in 1806 by William Brailsforth. The land was passed down to further generations. Ophelia Dent, a great-great granddaughter of William, and the last descendent, died in 1973. She willed the estate to the state with two conditions, that it remain exactly as it was, the house and it's furnishings that were owned by the family for 5 generations, and no trailer parks.

Rice was produced steadily until the Civil War. It included over 7,300 acres and 357 slaves at that time. George Dent (Ophelia's grandfather) and her 15 year old uncle James left to serve in the Confederate Army while the remaining family moved to a refugee settlement nearby for safety. After the Civil War they continued to grow rice but large sections of the estate were sold to pay taxes. With several weather events and slaves having been freed, rice plantations suffered. James Dent took over management of the plantation in the 1880's but their wealth was gone. Rice continued to be the crop until 1913 when James died. His son Gratz established a dairy operation with his two sisters, Miriam and Ophelia. They raised the cows, milked them, bottled and delivered the milk. Gratz was the only one of the three to marry and none had any children. When they ceased operating the dairy in 1942 the plantation was out of debt.

The original plantation house that burned in 1858.

Ophelia and Miriam loved Live Oaks.

Rice mill ruins

Marsh area where rice was grown.

There was a path into the wet marsh but this sign was enough to convince me to go no further. 

Below is a close-up of the Spanish moss that is most often found on Live Oaks and Bald Cypress, both of which provide the nutrients it needs. Given the right conditions it will grow just about anywhere. It isn't really moss but a flowering plant related to pineapples. Basicly, it just needs a place to hang. It's not parasitic and does not harm the trees. At one time it was harvested and ginned commercially for a variety of uses.  

This was the "overseers house" built in 1851 and became the plantation house after the 1858 fire. The last room on the right of the house was the original main kitchen. The room in front of that was the smaller summer kitchen. Both were kept away from the main part of the house to prevent fires from spreading.

1970 Olds Cutlass, Ophelias last car

This Sago Palm dates to the 1870s or 1880s.

Slave's commissary 

This is an audio of the Gullah-Guchie Ring Shout, a religious ritual. The small building on the right is the quarters of the house slaves.

Milking barn on the left, bottling house on the right.

Silo foundation used during the dairy years

We had to ask about the trailers on the property since Ophelia didn't want any trailer parks, but they are basicly work-campers.

Our guide Mark gave us a great, hour-long tour. This was the parlor.

We all had a good laugh here. We weren't suppose to touch anything of course, but not so the tour guides. Mark picked up many things,  including a partial bottle of wine, to show us that it was original to the house and part of the label fell off. Note to self: contact Georgia Historical Society and let them know NO ONE should be touching artifacts. 

Ophelia had her bedroom on the first floor.

Confederate Army hat

In the 1930's one of the 4 upstairs bedrooms was turned into a bathroom and a small bedroom used as an infirmary.

The sisters were fond of dogs and had lots of reading material on them. Literature related, they were good friends with Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With the Wind.

A writing desk

A small trundle bed for a slave was kept in the master bedroom for times when someone was ill and might need assistance during the night.

The bed posts were decorated with rice plant designs.

The "modern" kitchen. 

Where are the Piepers now? Brunswick, Ga

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