Last Saturday my son and I went to the Harvest festival at Stagville Plantation outside of Durham, NC. Stagville was owned by the Bennehan-Cameron family was on of the largest plantations in the whole Antebellum South. It was an immense 30, 000 acres and had 900 slaves that toiled in its fields and buildings. The large numbers of slaves means that an exponential number of contemporary African Americans can claim descent from Stagville area. And on a recent visit to the North Carolina collection at UNC Chapel Hill I read some letters on display that several slaves had written. The most intriguing one was from an enslaved man on a buying trip for the master. Reading about the plantation is one thing but visiting it gives you a sense of place and time.
The festival was fun, I met Michael Twitty who is sometimes called the Antebellum Chef and is an expert on African foodways. We tasted some of the pork he slow cooked over coals right in front of us while he shared some insights into the cuisine of the nineteenth century. Other re-enactors also shared stories and we explored a pre-Revolution farm house and toured one of the three, two story slave cabins that were built in 1850. Also we rode in a wagon pulled by a team of ornery mules and my son chased some chickens.