Thursday, September 14, 2006

Return to the Slave Plantation (Part II)

HERE'S THE TRULY AMAZING THING about blogging. You make connections in ways that would have been virtually impossible in the Pre-Virtual Era.

In this case, I bumped into a descendant of John Fitz Jarrell. Rather, a descendant of John Fitz Jarrell googled his family name and discovered my March 2005 blog entry, Return to the Slave Plantation (Part I), in which a phone call to the Jarrell plantation was the final in a series of futile attempts at locating a slave cabin to visit.

The descendant posted anonymously - pleasantly enough. So, I'm posting our dialogue here.

At 11:29 AM, Anonymous said:

As a descendant of John Fitz Jarrell, I can tell you that the reason there are no slave cabins there is that the plantation became what most plantations became after the Civil War...a family farm - same thing as before, just farmed by former slaves. The cabins weren't needed so they were torn down or allowed to fall down. The family was working hard to survive, why would they put effort into maintaining buildings that were no longer being used? Jarrell plantation is a realistic view of a real plantation - not some sprawling, manicured Tara-like estate, but a medium-sized family-owned farm.

Then, At 7:39 AM, M. Ayodele Heath said:

Thank you, Anonymous, that's the most information I've received to date regarding my difficulty in finding a slave cabin to visit in Georgia. Someone should tell that to the groggy woman answering phones at your forefather's plantation. Your information is revelatory.

It once again stresses the importance of each individual taking responsibility to tell/preserve his/her own history. You're correct: Why would a family working hard to survive put effort into maintaining buildings no longer being used?

Of course, slave cabins have historical value today as do concentration camps in Europe. The experience of visiting these no-longer-used facilities has great spiritual value for the descendants of those who suffered there.

Your information also stresses the importance of my actually visiting an actual slave cabin and using my gift to report on it in verse. For if the physical buildings don't exist, how else will the memory of those who suffered be kept alive?

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