Charles Towne Landing

Charles Towne Landing

In 1670 Albemarle Point was the site of where the first English settlers successfully settled in the state of South Carolina. These settlers brought enslaved people with them. Today this site is a state park known as Charles Towne Landing.

Charles Towne Landing

Charles Towne Landing

In my six years of spending nights in extant slave dwellings, I had never requested to spend a night at Charles Towne Landing. The main reason was because there are no extant slave dwellings there. That said, I have spent nights in places where the slave dwellings do not exist by simply pitching a tent or sleeping among existing ruins.

Smith's Castle

Smith’s Castle

Enters Jon Marcoux, Assistant Professor of Cultural and Historical Preservation at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. I first met Jon in 2015 when I presented at a preservation conference at Salve Regina. Knowing that I was coming to Newport, I made a general request for someone anyone to assist me in finding an extant slave dwelling there to sleep in while I participated in the conference. I got the usual responses from those who were in denial of slavery in Rhode Island to those who were ignorant of the fact. Jon saw through it all and got us a stay at Smith’s Castle. http://slavedwellingproject.org/compromising-missouri-and-rhode-island-rebs/

Jon is currently conducting an archaeology field school at Charles Towne Landing. This excavation includes, among other things, finding evidence of the enslaved and Native Americans who once inhabited the site. Jon proposed doing a sleepover at the site. I agreed and did not have to make an official request. My thought was to let Jon deal with all of the bureaucracy necessary to make the stay happen.

Redcliffe Plantation

Redcliffe Plantation

My relationship with the South Carolina State Parks system is continuing to develop. When the project started six years ago, I was denied a request to stay at Redcliffe Plantation in Aiken County, SC. Redcliffe Plantation was the home of Governor Henry Hammond, one of South Carolina’s most notorious governors. Three years later, the site reached out to me and the request to stay was granted. http://slavedwellingproject.org/redcliffe-plantation/

Hampton Plantation

Hampton Plantation

I have also spent a night at Hampton Plantation in Charleston County. Although there are no extant slave dwellings at Hampton Plantation, the ongoing archaeology is revealing where they were once located on the site. We pitched tents at the site of the excavation and, as I recall, spent a very cold night there. http://slavedwellingproject.org/speaking-from-beneath-the-earth/

The Adventure

The Adventure

With no extant slave dwellings, the sleepover at Charles Towne landing would be similar to Hampton Plantation but would also include a first. We would sleep on a replica of a cargo vessel, the Adventure, which would have landed at Charles Towne Landing in 1670. Although not a replica of a slave ship, enslaved people did accompany the first settlers to the site.

Patrick Cook

Patrick Cook

Patrick Cook, History and Education Coordinator for Charles Towne Landing and I started our conversation about a month before the event occurred. It was evident that Jon Marcoux’s action had broken through the bureaucracy and the stay would occur. Because of all of the information about the project that is available through the website and social media, Patrick was well aware of the Slave Dwelling Project. The conversation about the upcoming stay went swimmingly and I highly anticipated a sleepover on the Adventure.

My conversation with Patrick two days before the event had me a little worried that the event would not happen. Patrick expressed the option to postpone the event due to impending bad weather and the hot and humid conditions inside the Adventure. Knowing the effort that Jon Marcoux put in to making this stay happen and knowing that there was someone coming from Mississippi to participate in the sleepover, I made the decision to go ahead with the sleepover and abort only if necessary but it would be a collective decision.

Charles Towne Landing

Charles Towne Landing

And it came to pass that on the evening the event occurred, the skies indeed opened up unleashing a deluge of rain with more predicted throughout the night. That rain may have factored into the limited number of people who showed up to the Charles Towne Landing Visitors Center for the public presentation given by Jon Marcoux and me. Those who would be sleeping in the Adventure retreated to another building on the site for dinner of baked beans, potato salad and baked chicken.

A lull in the storm allowed us to get to the Adventure around 11:00 pm. As described by Patrick, the temperature and humidity on the Adventure got higher as we descended into the lower deck. The darkness of night made it somewhat of a chore to claim our spaces. One of the four available berths was appealing but the air circulation on that end of the ship was little to none. I claimed a space almost under the steps as I thought I could take advantage of any air circulation that might work its way in from the upper deck. This would only be a wise decision if it did not rain throughout the night.

Jon Marcoux and Patrick Cook

Jon Marcoux and Patrick Cook

Joseph McGill

Joseph McGill

It turned out that it did not rain that night. I discovered that Jon and Patrick remained on the top deck talking until 1:00 am and that is where they slept. The light of the morning gave us all a better sense of what it might have been like in 1670 for the early settlers. Patrick was our interpreter as we asked the questions that would help us fill in the blanks of how the English settlers occupied the land that was once occupied by Native Americans. Of course my concern was how the enslaved factored into all that was happening at the site. Jon’s knowledge of archaeology helped to answer those questions.

When I accepted the invitation to stay on the Adventure, I also agreed that I would don a period outfit and observe the living history programs that the park conducted. This gave me a great opportunity to engage in a meaningful conversation with Patrick about the potential to enhance the living history by adding the contributions of the enslaved. While the park has done a great job in interpreting slavery in the museum, opportunity exists with furthering that effort in living history. You can expect to hear more on that front because just as Jamestown, Virginia was ground zero for the slavery that existed in this nation, Charles Towne Landing was ground zero that existed in the state of South Carolina.

Abby Burke

Abby Burk

Abby Burke

This is now my second stay as part of the slave dwelling project and I couldn’t be more excited! Back in October, I stayed at Smith’s Castle in Rhode Island. Now I am down in South Carolina doing archaeology field school and I had the opportunity to join Mr. McGill on his stay on the Adventure.

Smith's Castle

Smith’s Castle

The first thing to hit me was the temperature – it had to have been over 90 degrees where we set up camp below decks. Back in October, in Rhode Island, it was 30 degrees. I realized these temperature extremes were just another uncomfortable aspect slaves had to deal with on a daily and nightly basis that we may not usually factor into our initial grasp of the lives of slaves because today most of us can go home to a climate controlled house. I also spent the whole day doing archaeology in the field where the heat index was 105. Let me tell you, I was wiped out. However, digging and sifting under tents could not nearly be as intense as most of the labor slaves performed. The heavy labor during the day and the less than comfortable sleeping conditions during the night enabled me to embody rather than read about, what life was like for slaves. But there was more to it, we were sleeping on a 17th-century ship with scattered thunderstorms passing through the area. Luckily, the storms missed us but I could only imagine after a hard day’s work, being down on the floor in a cramped, stuffy, hot area and then getting tossed around in a storm.

Abby Burke

Abby Burke

To me, history is important because it defines who we are. Put a different way, to understand who we are, we must look back at how our ancestors lived. That is why the Slave Dwelling project is so very important – it brings attention to these historical places so they and more like them can be preserved so we may always have a clear reminder of our past. Not just an image or sentence on paper, the tangible structure. This enables everyone in their own way to be touched by the past. Hopefully, I’ll get to participate in the project yet again!

Jamie McGuire, Filmmaker
Digital Production Manager
Salve Regina University

Jamie McGuire

Jamie McGuire

My first experience with the Slave Dwelling Project was in October 2015 at Smith’s Castle in North Kingstown, RI, where I met up with Dr. Jon Marcoux of Salve Regina University and three of his students when they met Joe McGill and immersed themselves into his project for an overnight stay. The result was a very nice web feature (www.salve.edu/wheretheyslept) and a 30-minute RIPBS special that were both well received. As happy as I was with the whole experience, I very soon began to regret the fact that I personally did not stay the night with them. When I heard that Dr. Marcoux and one of those same students would be meeting up with Joe once again, but this time down at Charles Towne Landing during Dr. Marcoux’s annual archaeology field school in South Carolina, I jumped at the chance to head down and shoot a “sequel.” I arrived in Charleston with a clear agenda: to shoot a compelling follow-up to my previous work, but also to say that I had finally gone “all-in” with Joe’s project, because it has fascinated me since the first moment that I heard about it. What I didn’t expect to find was that my personal experience became much more meaningful than the overnight at Smith’s Castle (in my hometown) would ever have been.

Upon arriving in Charleston on Thursday, I became very aware of the heat index as I walked around town getting shots of the locale for later use. My main stop on this trek was at the Old Slave Mart Museum on Chalmers St. where I had a very meaningful discussion with the docent, Mr. Ista Clarke, and it really set me up for what I would be experiencing the next evening. Ista’s honest answers to my sometimes very naïve questions about the domestic slave trade period were very thoughtful and helpful.

Cannons at Charles Towne Landing

Cannons at Charles Towne Landing

Friday was hot. The thermometer read 101 and I am pretty sure that the heat index was up near 116. Once again, I found myself out in the sun with Dr. Marcoux’s field school as I had two years earlier, watching them excavate. Taking the opportunity to walk around the Charles Towne Landing state park, I was very impressed with the care that the site receives from the staff and the development of creative interpretation of the landscape, but I noticed the lack of structures on the site. There are a couple of recreated buildings, but there was nothing that invoked an “extant slave dwelling” such as those that Joe seeks out. I wondered where we would sleep. Taking a walk with Jon and a colleague of his, we proceeded down to the river where there is a replica of a colonial ketch named the “Adventure,” and it was then that I realized where we would be sleeping that night. Due to state park regulations, camping is not allowed on the grounds, and through careful negotiation, it had been agreed that we’d sleep aboard the fully functional replica. I immediately began thinking about how hot it would be in that hold.

The Adventure

The Adventure

The Adventure is a replica of a 17th century coastal trader. She and her like would have navigated the east coast from New England all the way to the West Indies carrying cargo, livestock and other… commodities. I’m not sure if anyone ever came right out and said it during that first time on board, but thinking about the time period, it’s pretty obvious that there was transport of enslaved peoples undertaken by vessels such as this. More on that later.

I returned to town and continued my trek for good footage, when a violent thunderstorm rolled through around 3:00 and I had to hunker down for a bit until it blew over. This prevented me from getting back to the Old Slave Mart, where I had intended to find Joe and game plan for the evening. Finally, coming up on 7:00, I was back at Charles Towne Landing, where Joe and Jon gave very nice presentations in the visitor’s center classroom. We gathered for a late dinner in the park ranger’s building where we had lively conversation with Patrick Cook, history and education coordinator at the park. During dinner, another storm rolled through, and there was some question as to whether or not we would go out to the ship to sleep after all, as there was the threat of more rough weather in the forecast. Joe, ever one to soldier on, said that we should go ahead and take the risk, and hope that the river would keep the storm away (it did.) Because of the circumstances of the weather and how long we had to wait to get out to the ship, by the time we boarded, it was pretty late, and I began to feel some disappointment that I would not be able to film as much as I would have liked… In fact, I felt that I was coming down with something and was getting a pretty sore throat and was aching all over, so I started thinking that I wouldn’t film anything and that the evening was going to be a bust. It was late; I had no light, no space and no motivation. As a filmmaker, I got pretty cranky about it, but there was nothing I could do. I’d have to put it aside and reassess the final product in the morning and come up with a new strategy. This was about when everything fell into place in a different way for me.

Adventure Lower Deck

Adventure Lower Deck

I was sick, exhausted and in a pretty foul mood, and while several of our company opted to sleep up on deck, I decided to sleep in the hold with Joe and two students. We were tied off pretty well, so there was no sway to the ship at all, which surprised me. People below began drifting off to sleep as those above held conversation that was occasionally serious, occasionally buoyant, occasionally off-kilter… much as the conversations that a ship’s crew might have overnight while on watch. I rolled onto one side and got mad at the hard floor, so I rolled onto the other and got mad again. My throat was killing me. Someone started snoring below. On deck, they were having a great time. The hold was like an oven. I was soaked through and through with sweat. I heard my friend Jon laugh on deck and I almost cursed at him under my breath because he had it so good. Almost. At least, I thought, I’m not stuck down here with 15 head of cattle… Stuck with the filth and the stink and… the way they would have been on a “quick” coastal trip. Oh yeah.

The Adventure Lower Deck

The Adventure Lower Deck

Lying motionless I opened my eyes and stared up into the darkness, where I could make out some of the inside of the hold, but not much. I was sore and sick, but I could move. The sounds of people sleeping were erupting around me, but they were the sounds of the slumber of free people. I began to think of the enslaved people who may have been tucked into a hold like this with the cargo and the cattle during the coastal runs of these vessels. Chained, but maybe with some leeway to roll over? Or not? Maybe lying there like I was listening to the voices above and wondering what they were saying or singing or seeing? Maybe they’d just been separated from ones they loved? Maybe they were simply scared and alone? My mind tried to negotiate what my senses were feeling between the heat, the sweat, the sore throat, the sounds, the smells, the aches and the imagination, and I knew immediately that I had no idea what this could possibly have been like for them. And that was just in this little ketch. I thought about what I knew from books, conversations and movies about the Middle Passage, and I found myself unconsciously frowning and shaking my head as I was lying there. Here I was complaining about not being comfortable about which side I rolled onto. The enslaved couldn’t move at all and were crammed in and jammed to every nook and cranny and then chained into place. Yeah, someone’s snoring a few feet away from me, but no one is vomiting, or crying, or screaming mad, or being whipped or beaten or raped. My throat was awfully sore, but I wasn’t about to die, and I was pretty sure that I didn’t have to worry about the person next to me dying overnight. Plus, at any moment, I could rise from my blanket and go up on deck. Having fresh information in my mind from my conversation with Mr. Clarke at the Old Slave Mart the day before, I couldn’t even bring myself to say “well, at least it got better for them once the sea voyage ended.” It didn’t. It really didn’t. Thinking about all of this didn’t disqualify my personal discomfort. Of course it didn’t. That would be disingenuous to suggest that I was outside of myself and “really getting” what slaves must have gone through. But it did offer me some real perspective.

Sleep was fitful and fleeting, and as dawn began to break, I went up on deck to try to film the sunrise. When the rest of our group stirred, there was some nice conversation on deck as we were packing up, and also later at breakfast, about slavery at the Charles Towne Landing site, but to be honest, it seemed like the topic was just being skimmed for one reason or another. It happens, so I’ve been told. I hung back a bit from the discussion (still feeling under the weather), listening to what was being said, but also beginning to reflect on what I had experienced the previous night.

The Adventure

The Adventure

The Adventure

The Adventure

Where do I take this from here? I took a while to write this up because when I got back to RI I was officially sick as a dog, but also I kept thinking back to the experience and about what I would write, and although my thoughts are still in the process of coming together, I couldn’t wait any longer. I experienced so many thoughts and feelings while in the dark in that ship’s hold, and I came out feeling a great sense of awareness about something I had never truly thought about before, but I also felt a great sense of… something that I can’t put my finger on. As much as I may say I learned, I also realized how very little I know about what these people experienced, and how even the storyteller in me is at a loss for how to articulate it. I will never know what they experienced and I will never be able to do justice to their story. That new Roots was amazing, but as brutally honest as it was, did that depiction of the middle passage even come close? I’m going to say no. Had I stayed overnight in Smith’s Castle, I would certainly have appreciated the history of it and came out with new knowledge and been featured on the blog and everything else, but also, it would have been catered to my mind-set and to the story I was trying to tell at the time. At Charles Towne Landing, I found myself stripped of my intent by forces that were outside of my own power to control in such a way that I became completely detached and was able to have a sensory experience like none that I have ever known. In July 2015, Joe McGill wrote “not every overnight stay fits the mold of the original intent of the Slave Dwelling Project. That intent was to bring much needed attention to extant slave dwellings… There are some buildings that are clearly not slave dwellings but can be used to interpret the presence of our enslaved Ancestors” (McGill, 2015). What he’s doing to raise awareness and to preserve these structures is so important. But sometimes, you do end up at a site that doesn’t fit that mold. Like a replica boat at the epicenter of the institutionalized slave trade in South Carolina. We have no idea “where they slept” at the settlement. Archaeology hasn’t revealed that mystery to us. And of course the Adventure isn’t an actual artifact from the era, either. But this excursion invoked the life and experience that some of these slaves had to endure, and it acknowledges their presence at both the Charles Towne Landing site and onboard the coastal traders like the Adventure. The types of revelatory results that have emerged from within the project’s original intent are so genuinely essential to the story that must be told about these people and their place in our shared history. And just like when a site doesn’t fit the mold of a slave dwelling, sometimes what the lens captures doesn’t fit the mold of what your personal agenda as a storyteller is. I look forward to letting this story tell itself through what I filmed, and hope that I can at least give justice to this small episode in the much larger story.

Reference:

McGill, Joe. “It’s Not Always a Dwelling.” The Slave Dwelling Project. July 5, 2015. Accessed June 28, 2016. http://slavedwellingproject.org/its-not-always-a-dwelling/.

See also:

Salve Regina University “Where They Slept” web feature: http://salve.edu/wheretheyslept

Jon Marcoux

Jon Marcoux

Jon Marcoux

The Adventure is a brightly-colored, neat-looking little 17th century vessel. Manned by an incredibly knowledgeable interpreter, it is a great example of how historic sites can make history come alive for visitors. Onboard, visitors can operate the windlass or tiller, go beneath the deck to see where the sailors slept, maybe even watch the interpreter climb the rigging of the mast. The experience certainly gives visitors a sense of what life might have been like for those sailing on the ship. Our night aboard The Adventure with Joe, within the context of the Slave Dwelling Project, presented a very different picture of what life aboard a vessel like this might have been like for the enslaved.

Jon Marcoux

Jon Marcoux

After a great talk by Joe, I spent most of the night speaking with my friend Jessica Crawford about family, archaeology, and her attempts to preserve the Prospect Hill Plantation in Mississippi. When it came time to go to sleep, I opted to lay down on the deck of the ship rather than descend into its cramped and hot cargo hold. It was a cop out. A thunderstorm had brought with it cool breezes, which did not reach below deck.

As I lay on the deck, I wrestled with my decision and thought about those who could not decide. Those who were chained together and then chained to the walls and floor of the hold. Those who were the first enslaved Africans brought to Carolina in 1670. I could not help but think about how small the ship was, and I tried to imagine how it could have traversed the open ocean on its way to Barbados and back. Then I thought about being kept below, in the dark, packed together. The course of these thoughts won out over sleep that night.

In the morning, when I returned to my suite, I wanted to get a sense of the scale of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. How many voyages were there? How many people were enslaved? To answer these questions, there is an online resource called Trans-Atlantic slave voyage database (http://www.slavevoyages.org/) that compiles information on tens of thousands of voyages that brought Africans to the New World. I took that data and made a movie that shows a time-lapse map of slave voyages (https://goo.gl/4ep5l5). The movie condenses the period 1530-1865 into one minute. In that minute are recorded 20,255 individual voyages from Africa to the New World. Together, these carried 5,808,838 Africans to work and die on plantations. This does not count the millions who perished on the journey.

Jessica Fleming Crawford
Archaeologist and Southeast Regional Director for The Archaeological Conservancy

Jessica Fleming Crawford

Jessica Fleming Crawford

The night I slept on The Adventure, a reproduction of a 17th century coastal trading ship at Charles Towne Landing, South Carolina, is a part of both a professional and personal journey that began a few years ago in Mississippi. In my position as a regional director for The Archaeological Conservancy, a nationwide, non-profit organization that preserves archaeological sites, I’m responsible for overseeing the archaeological preservation of a plantation in south Mississippi, named Prospect Hill. With its days of grandeur past, it remains an interesting place. It was established by a Revolutionary War captain from South Carolina named Isaac Ross. Captain Ross moved to the area with about 150 family slaves in 1808. At some point during the 1820’s or 30’s, Captain Ross became a member of the American Colonization Society, an organization that was made up of abolitionists and Southern planters that advocated and assisted with the relocation and settlement of freed African Americans in colonies located on the coast of West Africa in what is now Liberia. For Southern planters, the American Colonization Society offered them a way to free those they’d enslaved without the worry of them inciting rebellions among those who remained on plantations. Those who did have genuine concern for their welfare, felt the colonies offered an opportunity for a better life. Captain Ross directed that upon his death, Prospect Hill plantation should pass to his daughter. Then upon her death, he instructed that the land and crops be sold and the proceeds be used to send the enslaved people at Prospect Hill who wished to go, to the Mississippi American Colonization Society settlement in Africa. The will further stated that any remaining funds were to be used to provide supplies and a school for the resettled people. Captain Ross died in 1836, shortly after revising his will. Prospect Hill passed to his daughter who had changed her own will to do the same thing. She died not long after her father, which set in motion a chain of events that would have repercussions on an entirely different continent.

A grandson of Captain Ross’s, Isaac Wade, filed a suit to contest the will and the case went to court. Powerful friends of Captain Ross’s defended the will and each time it was challenged, its validity was upheld. The case dragged on for nine years and one night, during a family gathering, in an effort to do away with the grandson who was wrongfully challenging their freedom, several of the enslaved set the house on fire. The house went up in flames and everyone escaped except a six year old girl named Martha Richardson. Her mother was badly burned after she ran back into the house to try to save her, and she survived only because one of the house servants ran in to rescue her. Later that night, and over the course of a couple of weeks, those who were thought to have been responsible for the fire were caught and executed by hanging or as one diary account described it, being “hung or burnt.”

The will was upheld in the Mississippi State Supreme Court and soon, over 200 people chose freedom and the opportunity to start new lives in a place they’d never even seen. They boarded ships in New Orleans and made the dangerous voyage to the western coast of Africa. Of course, there were many who did not survive the trip and some who didn’t survive the hardships that awaited them, but many of the “Ross people” as they came to be known did survive, and with support of the U.S. Government for years afterward, their descendants became leaders of the country of Liberia.

The grandson, Isaac Wade, did end up with some of the land and enslaved people to work it, and on the foundation of the burned home, he built the house that stands there now. It was completed in 1857 and remained in the family until the early 1970’s. Since then, it has changed ownership twice and almost no repair work has been done. Its condition has steadily deteriorated and the elements have taken their toll.

From about 2003 to 2010, the house was completely abandoned except for a peacock who belonged to the previous owner and moved in as trees knocked holes in the roof and doors fell off hinges. Now he passes his days sitting on an old rocking chair on the front porch.

It’s not something you see every day in rural Jefferson County, Mississippi, but I fell in love with Prospect Hill the moment I saw it. I’d already read about events that occurred at Prospect Hill in a book called Mississippi In Africa by Alan Huffman. The fact that, although no outbuildings remained standing, almost nothing had been done to disturb the grounds around the house, meant the potential for Historic or Plantation archaeology was exciting. So now Prospect Hill belongs to The Archaeological Conservancy. After spending hours upon hours pulling vines off the house and cleaning massive amounts of mildew and dust covered trash out of the inside, mostly on weekends off, Prospect Hill has become part of my life. As I spent long, hot days working there, I could not help but think about those who first worked and sweat there. Who were they and how could I bring them back to Prospect Hill so they could speak to those who are interested in this past? What is the best way to commemorate and honor their lives, which to people in the present, often seems so distant and abstract? These questions were compounded as I was contacted by descendants of the enslaved people who lived at Prospect Hill. I could see the potential for it to become a very special place for both the living and the dead. I’d recently noticed a friend, Dr. Jon Marcoux, with Salve Regina University, mentioning Joe McGill and The Slave Dwelling Project on his Facebook page. I decided this was a person I wanted to know.

The Adventure Lower Deck

The Adventure Lower Deck

After seeing Joe McGill speak and learning of his passion for preservation, and his patient and understanding approach to educating others about the importance of preserving slave dwellings, as well as honoring the lives of those who lived within them, I knew I wanted to be a part of The Slave Dwelling Project. So first I joined and then I emailed him and dropped Jon Marcoux’s name, just so he would know I wasn’t a crazy person, and he graciously agreed to let me accompany him when he spent the night on The Adventure. Part of the appeal was that, Dr. Marcoux was conducting his field school at Charles Towne Landing at the same time and he, two of his students, filmmaker, Jamie McGuire, and Patrick Cook, Director of History and Education at Charles Towne, would be staying overnight, too.

Jon Marcoux

Jon Marcoux

The night began with public presentations by Dr. Marcoux and Joe McGill, then the seven of us had dinner and discussed some of the places Joe had visited. Many times, I found myself thinking, “Oh, I didn’t know that.” We talked about urban slavery, northern slavery and a factory that specialized in making “slave clothing.” I had no idea there was an industry developed around supplying clothes for slaves. It’s these kinds of discussions that bring to light the often overlooked facts that illustrate the breadth and depth of slavery in the United States. After dinner, we drove through the park to The Adventure, and began our own adventure. The idea was not to authentically recreate the conditions and experience of a slaving ship. We had plenty of water, sleeping bags, pillows and anything else we wanted to bring. There were only six of us and plenty of room. It was nothing like the experience of being taken from your family and home, abused, starved, chained to a filthy floor and sold like an animal. However, one cannot be on a ship similar to those that transported captured and enslaved human cargo and not think about their experience. The sky was clear after a cooling rain, but it was pretty warm below the deck. A few slept there and some of us opted to sleep under the stars. It was just us, the sounds of crickets, frogs and the occasional snore. We woke up a little before a beautiful, pink, purple and blue sunrise lit the marsh around us. As we stretched and rubbed our backs, Patrick told us about the early history of Charles Towne Landing and the first arrival of enslaved Africans from the Caribbean. Joe explained that these people would have been considered “seasoned” because they’d survived, were healthy, able to work and had experience working on plantations. It was another one of those moments when I thought, “Oh. I had no idea.” We talked a little while longer, gathered our things and left for coffee and breakfast at a nearby coffee shop.

The Adventure

The Adventure

The Adventure

The Adventure

It was a memorable experience in many aspects, and certainly one I’ll never forget. Spending the night at a place as full of history as Charles Towne Landing is magical, and doing so with different people, from different places, with different areas of expertise and different experiences, broadens the mind. For me, it couldn’t have happened at a better time. I’m looking forward to having Joe visit Prospect Hill and to discussing my efforts through archaeology to locate the footprints and reconstruct the slave dwellings there. I hope to see Prospect Hill become a beacon of hope and healing to those whose ancestors lived there, both the enslaved and those who “owned” them. That can only be done through education, discussion, understanding and confronting the often difficult past with an open heart. I know it’s possible because I’ve seen it happening at all the other places Joe has visited, and that inspires and gives me hope.

 

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