Sunday, February 03, 2013

Kingsley Plantation

Our friend, Charles was visiting us during the Christmas season and that gave me a good reason to suggest a trip to a place that has fascinated me as a piece of Florida history: Kingsley Plantation. The plantation was not terribly large as plantations go, but it first owners, Jedidiah Kingsley and his wife, a former slave, Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley, exemplified the complex and contradictory culture of Florida at the beginning of the 19th century. Anna's life (insofar as it can be pieced together) was documented in the book, Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley: African Princess, Florida Slave, Plantation Slaveowner.

You can read all about the park, including the buildings which are being restored: the main house, the madame's house, the barn, and many of the slave houses at the National Park's Kingsley Plantation website. The big house was closed for the day. We spent time seeing what we could. I was especially interested in seeing the slave quarters, since I'd never explored them before. Like the stonework in the madame's house, slave houses were built of tabby with a stucco overcoat. Tabby was created by mixing shells and sand; it was incredibly study as evidenced by the slave houses still standing after two hundred years. The houses themselves were arranged in a semi-circle, much like the circular pattern of Wolof village houses in Africa, where Anna supposedly was from. When Jedidiah was away, Anna was mistress of the entire plantation and oversaw the slaves' work. She even had her own special slaves. It was not uncommon to enslave captured people back in Africa, so slavery was something Anna would certainly have been accustomed to. Here are photos we took.

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