Middleton Place Plantation...

We knew, being here, we needed to visit a plantation. We chose this one because of the special events happening today. We are so glad we did. We learned so much about life here from when first settled in 1705 and onward. This was a great choice.

The story of Middleton Place, like most plantations, is one of marriages and money. Henry Middleton, in 1741 married Mary, daughter and heiress of John Williams, a wealthy landowner, Justice of the Peace and member of the Assembly. Mary Williams’s dowry included the house and lands that became known as Middleton Place, owned successively by four generations of Middletons from 1741 through the Civil War.

Middleton Place is a National Historic Landmark and home to America’s Oldest Landscaped Gardens. This oak was exceptional. Can you spot Steve to the right of it? Wow.
The most important event of the day, for me, was the walking tour entitled, Beyond the Fields. Through an incredibly interesting docent named Dave, we explored the lives of African American slaves and freedmen at Middleton Place and other plantations. Along the tour route, he discussed domestic life at Eliza's House (a freedmen's dwelling), labor at the Rice Mill and Spring House, and religion and spirituality at the Plantation Chapel. He shared the important contributions the slaves brought to the plantations that many have never heard at other historic sites. This was a giant leap forward in telling a more complete story of life at Middleton Place in the 18th and 19th centuries and we left looking at things differently.
Rice production was one such contribution attributed to the enslaved.
We then met The Breeds as we were led through the Stableyards paddocks to meet different animal breeds and learned about their historical significance to Middleton Place, the local area, and the state of South Carolina.

The animals located here are "Heritage Breeds" – that is, they represent the types of animals that would have been found on a plantation like this at one time or another.
The many breeds include Cashmere goats, Guinea Hogs, River Water Buffalo, Brown Swiss and Jersey cows, as well as Dominique and Rhode Island Red chickens.
Oh man, I loved the Water Buffalo.

Alligators have been posing a threat here for centuries. The warning signs say, "The alligators are real. Please keep your distance." Thank goodness for my new great zoom lens.
Leisurely Pursuits and Grand Entertains was the theme of the day. How did people amuse themselves in the 18th Century? We got the answer to that question through interactive programs and demonstrations which offered an incredible range of colonial sports, games, country dances, needlework, painting in the gardens and music.

Within the Plantation Stableyards, costumed interpreters demonstrated the skills once performed by enslaved Africans. The Stableyards brought to life the sights and sounds of a Low Country rice plantation.  We watched amazing craft artisans: a weaver, blacksmith, potter, and cooper/carpenter. Spending time here was as if we had truly traveled back to life as it was.

New to the program this year was a performance by Wona Womalan, a local West African Drum & Dance Ensemble. When introduced, it was said that this was the first time these dances had been performed here in a very long time, meaning since The Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery in 1865. What an incredible insight into this vibrant tradition that gave some comfort to the slaves who lived here in the 18th century. The audience was invited to join in one of the dances. I hesitated at first, but was moved by the drums and the powerfulness of it all. It seemed the perfect conclusion to our day on the Plantation.
“It’s the end of the world,” said the caterpillar.
“It’s the beginning of the world,” said the butterfly.

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Nick and Deb's Excellent Adventure said...

Wow what a day that was! I just love Middleton, it an amazing place for sure! So glad you got to see the gator too! Perfect day for it too!

Karen Booth said...

So many things to comment on! My highlights -- the beautiful water reflection and the amazing Oak tree, loved all the animals (I wonder how the water buffalo lost its horn), wished there had been a video on the stilts, the attire of the African Drum dancers and of course, the butterfly.

Unknown said...

The water buffalos are named Adem ("Earth") and Berk ("Solid"). Adem is the black one, and he lost his horn after getting it caught in the fork of a tree...it was badly torn when he tried to free himself and had to be cut off....

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