History Podcasts

Lakeport Plantation

Lakeport Plantation

The Lakeport Plantation in Arkansas is an Antebellum-style historic house which has recently been restored and opened to visitors.

Originally built by Lycurgus and Lydia Johnson in 1859, the house was the heart of the larger plantation. Built in the style known as Antebellum (meaning "pre war") the architecture is characterised by Greek revival-style houses and mansions.

Just a few years after it was built, the area in which the Lakeport Plantation resides suffered due to the hardships of the US Civil War. Foraging troops and economic disruption combined with the post-war turmoil to leave the area in severe difficulties. However, the Lakeport Plantation did manage to survive the period and the house continued to be used after the war.

In 1927 the Johnson family sold the house to Sam Epstein, a Jewish-Russian immigrant who had amassed considerable wealth after coming to the United States. The Lakeport Plantation was added the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and in 2001 the Epstein family gifted the house to Arkansas State University, who restored it and now run the house as a publicly accessible historic site.


Discover ancient cultures and engaging history on the Great River Road

To travel the Great River Road is to travel through the history of the people and cultures of the Mississippi River. Marvel at a once-massive ancient city created by the mound-building people of southern Illinois, see the agricultural settlement where a young Johnny Cash spent his formative years, and learn about an important battle in Civil War history.

Reminder: Local and state safety regulations may lead to reduced hours or changes in operations. Please contact specific businesses or attractions for more information before you visit.

Photo credit: Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage & Tourism

Lakeport Planation

Built in 1859, Lakeport Plantation sits just a short distance from the banks of the Mississippi River in Lake Village, Arkansas. It’s the last remaining Mississippi River plantation home in Arkansas and is considered one of the state’s top historic structures. Exhibits in the home tell the stories of the people who lived and worked on the plantation, as well as how the home was restored to its original condition. Tours are available Monday through Friday year-round and also on Saturdays in the winter.
Learn more .

(Photo courtesy of the Illinois Office of Tourism)

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

Drive to Collinsville, Illinois—just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis—and you’ll find one of the two UNESCO World Heritage Sites along the Great River Road. Cahokia Mounds was inhabited for about 700 years from 700 to 1400 AD, and it its peak, was home to 10,000 to 20,000 people. The inhabitants built more than 120 mounds on the site, which covers more than 6 square miles. An interpretive center and tours help visitors learn more about this fascinating site.
Learn more .

Photo credit: Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage & Tourism

Historic Dyess Colony

The Dyess Colony in northeastern Arkansas was created as a federal agricultural settlement as part of the New Deal in 1934, giving a new start to hundreds of poor farming families in the state. One of those families, the Cashes had a son, Johnny, who went on to become one of the most notable names in American music. Several of the colony’s buildings have been restored and are open to visitors, including the Johnny Cash Boyhood home.
Learn more .

Columbus-Belmont State Park

This 156-acre site in Kentucky is the site of a Confederate fortification, and the Battle of Belmont—fought here in 1861—marked the beginning of the Union’s Western campaign. The battle for the fort, which had blocked the Union forces looking to travel south on the Mississippi River, was the first real action for Union Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant. The site is also home to a Civil War Museum, and visitors can see the massive chain and anchor that was meant to prevent Union ships from passing.
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Photo credit: Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage & Tourism

Delta Cultural Center

The Arkansas Delta has made immense contributions to American culture, blues music and more—hear the stories of Delta residents at the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, Arkansas. Exhibits and guided tours educate visitors about the people and history of this region. The Delta Cultural Center is also home to “King Biscuit Time,” a live daily blues broadcast that has been on the air for nearly 80 years.
Learn more .

Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site

Discover the history of the Mississippian—or mound-building—native culture that called this area home at Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site in Kentucky. This site was home to a Native American village from about 1100 to 1350, and visitors to the historic site can walk interpretive archaeological trails, learn about the culture that lived here and see artifacts and tools at the Wickliffe Mounds museum, which has been open to the public since 1932.
Learn more .

Fort de Chartres State Historic Site

This French fort was constructed nearly 300 years ago on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River, south of St. Louis. It served as a base for French soldiers during their occupation of what is today Illinois.. Interpretive signage guides visitors around the site, and on weekends, costumed interpreters offer additional information and reenactments.
Learn more .

Fort Jefferson Hill Park and Memorial Cross

Fort Jefferson was established in 1780 on a hill overlooking the Mississippi River a mile south of the present-day city of Wickliffe, Kentucky. The fort, which was only occupied for a short time, was intended to protect the western border of the then-newfound United States. The cross towers 95 feet high above the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers andcan be seen from three states. Fort Jefferson is also a Lewis and Clark Expedition historic site.
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Lake Village, Arkansas

Project Details
7,000 sq. ft.
Built in 1858

Awards
Historic Preservation Alliance Award

Lakeport Plantation is the last remaining pre-civil war plantation home in the State of Arkansas that still faces the Mississippi River in the traditional way.

Begun in approximately 1858, Lakeport Plantation offers a rare peek into the state’s history that has the potential to offer visitors a glimpse into the livelihood of antebellum cotton plantations.

Constructed in the Greek Revival style, the most magnificent attribute is it’s grand scale. The historic structure also contains much of it’s original fabric which gives professionals today the opportunity to practice the best known means of conservation.

WER renovated the plantation in four phases to turn it into a museum and cultural center in Southeast Arkansas - run by Arkansas State University.


Lakeport Plantation House

Side 1
The Lakeport Plantation house was constructed circa 1859 for Lycurgus and Lydia Taylor Johnson. The skilled craftsmanship and lasting character are testaments to those who built the house. It is preserved in remembrance of all who lived and worked on the plantation.

Side 2
The survival of Lakeport Plantation is a tribute to the Sam Epstein family, who acquired the property in 1927. Listed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1974, it was gifted to Arkansas State University in 2001 by the Sam Epstein Angel family as a legacy for future generations.

Erected 2007 by Arkansas State University.

Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Agriculture &bull Architecture &bull Education. A significant historical year for this entry is 1859.

Location. 33° 15.419′ N, 91° 9.305′ W. Marker is near Lake Village, Arkansas, in Chicot County. Marker can be reached from State Highway 142 0.9 miles from Robert Mazzanti Road (Parish Road 505). Marker is in front of the house 0.4 miles north of AR-142 using the plantation driveway. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 601 AR-142, Lake Village AR 71653, United States of America. Touch for directions.

Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Lakeport in the Civil War (a few steps from this marker) The Casualties at Ditch Bayou June 6, 1864

(approx. 4 miles away) The Battle at Ditch Bayou (approx. 4 miles away) Saunders-Pettit-Chapman-Cook Plantation Home (approx. 5.4 miles away) Belmont Plantation (approx. 7.1 miles away in Mississippi) In Memoriam Hyner Cemetery (approx. 7.4 miles away) Columbia (approx. 8.3 miles away) Italian Immigrants On Sunnyside Plantation (approx. 8.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Lake Village.

Also see . . . Visit the Lakeport Plantation. (Submitted on November 10, 2015, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)


News Article

JONESBORO &ndash "The Polks' Plantations and the Creation of Cotton Kingdom in the Old South" will be presented in the latest Lakeport Legacies monthly history talk, Thursday, Sept. 28, at the Lakeport Plantation, 601 Hwy 142, in Lake Village.


George W. Polk, a Chicot County planter, completed his home, &ldquoRattle & Snap,&rdquo near Columbia, Maury County, TN in 1845. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

The event gets underway at 5:30 p.m. with refreshments and conversation, and the program starts at 6 p.m. The program is free and open to the public. For more information and to register, contact Dr. Blake Wintory, assistant director and facilities manager, at 870-265-6031.

Dr. Kelly Houston Jones, assistant professor of history at Austin Peay State University and specialist in the history of slavery, will make the presentation and discuss her research on the Polk family&rsquos extensive cotton plantations across Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas.

The prominent Polk family moved at the center of the historical processes that created &ldquoking cotton&rdquo in the newest parts of the Old South. Former President James K. Polk, who served from 1845-49, invested in cotton while his relatives ran cotton plantations in the Mississippi Delta. He purchased a plantation in Yalobusha County, Miss., in 1834. A nephew, William Wilson Polk, owned a large plantation at Walnut Bend in Phillips County, Ark., and financed his uncle&rsquos presidential run.

George W. Polk, a cousin of President Polk, co-owned the Hilliard Plantation on Grand Lake in Chicot County. Polk with his brother-in-law, Isaac Hilliard, owned 151 slaves and 550 acres of improved land in 1850. In 1845, he built a magnificent Greek Revival home near Columbia, Tenn., which he named &ldquoRattle and Snap.&rdquo

The Polks&rsquo and their business network represent patterns of cotton investment that characterized the late 1840s and early 1850s and built the slave empire of the Old Southwest.

Dr. Jones received her Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas in 2014. Her most recent work will appear later this year in Bullets and Fire: Lynching and Authority in Arkansas, 1840-1950, edited by Guy Lancaster.

Lakeport Legacies is a monthly history talk held on the last Thursday at the Lakeport Plantation during the spring and summer. Each month a topic from the Delta region is featured. The Lakeport Plantation is an Arkansas State University Heritage Site. Constructed in 1859, Lakeport is one of Arkansas's premier historic structures and still retains many of its original finishes and architectural details.

Open to the public since 2007, Lakeport researches and interprets the people and cultures that shaped plantation life in the Mississippi River Delta, focusing on the antebellum, Civil War and Reconstruction periods.

Arkansas Heritage Sites at Arkansas State University develops and operates historic properties of regional and national significance in the Arkansas Delta. A-State&rsquos Heritage Sites include the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center, Southern Tenant Farmers Museum, Lakeport Plantation, the Historic Dyess Colony: Boyhood Home of Johnny Cash, and the Arkansas State University Museum.


Contents

Alexander family Edit

The land that contains Abingdon was originally part of a larger holding granted in 1669 by letters patent to shipmaster Robert Howson for headrights for settlers that he had brought to the Colony of Virginia. [1] [7] [8] Howson soon sold the patent to John Alexander for 6,000 pounds of tobacco. [1] [2] [6] [7] [9] [10]

Alexander was a descendant of the MacDonald clan of Scotland and was a son of the Earl of Stirling. [11] He immigrated to Virginia around 1653, settled in Stafford County and became a planter, surveyor and captain of the Stafford County militia. [10] [11] [12]

When Alexander purchased the Howson patent, the patent covered an 8,000-acre (3,200 ha) site (believed at the time of sale to contain only 6,000 acres (2,400 ha)) on the southwestern side of the Potomac River. [7] [10] The site was about 2 miles (3.2 km) wide and extended along the Potomac from Hunting Creek (the southern boundary of the present City of Alexandria) to the present northern boundary of Arlington National Cemetery. [1] [7] [10] [11]

After John Alexander's death in 1677, one of his sons, Robert Alexander, acquired the Howson patent by inheritance and by a gift from his brother, Phillip Alexander. [9] In 1735, Gerrard Alexander, a grandson of Robert Alexander, inherited the northern part of the Howson patent. [8] In 1746, a survey map that Daniel Jennings prepared showed that Gerrard Alexander owned a house on a portion of the Howson patent that was north of Four Mile Creek. [7] [9]

Shortly thereafter, in 1749, the town of Alexandria was chartered on a more southerly part of the Howson patent. [10] The town was named in honor of John Alexander and his family, who provided land on which the town was founded. [10] [13] In 1761, Gerrard Alexander's will divided his estate between his sons, Robert, Phillip and Gerrard (2nd).

Custis and Stuart families Edit

In 1778, John Parke Custis (nicknamed "Jacky"), the son of Daniel Parke Custis and Martha Washington and the stepson of George Washington, purchased Abingdon and its 1,000-acre (400 ha) estate from Robert Alexander. [6] [9] [14] [15] [16] Custis had been eager to obtain real estate in the Abingdon area on which to raise his family. [16]

However, Jacky Custis' eagerness and inexperience allowed Robert Alexander to take advantage of him in the transaction, because compound interest during the 24-year term would eventually transform the £12,000 purchase price into payments totalling over £48,000. [16] [17] (Some sources claim that General George Washington purchased Abingdon for Custis. [2] [11] ) When he learned of the terms of the purchase, Washington informed Custis that "No Virginia Estate (except a few under the best management) can stand simple Interest how then can they bear compound Interest". [17]

Jacky Custis chose Abingdon because it was equidistant between the Washingtons' home at Mount Vernon, and the family home of his wife, Eleanor Calvert (the Mount Airy estate, whose restored mansion is now in Rosaryville State Park in Prince George's County, Maryland). [18] Eleanor Calvert was a descendant of Cecilius Calvert, second Lord Baltimore, a member of the Parliament of England and the recipient of the charter for the Maryland colony. [15] [19]

During the year (1778) that Jacky Custis purchased Abingdon, his neighbors in Fairfax County elected him to the Virginia General Assembly as a delegate. [17] Shortly after moving to Abingdon, Custis' wife gave birth to their third surviving daughter, Eleanor (Nelly) Parke Custis on March 31, 1779. [2] [3] [20] [21] Nelly, her older sisters, Elizabeth (Eliza) Parke Custis and Martha Parke Custis Peter, and her younger brother, George Washington Parke Custis (G.W.P. Custis), were then raised at Abingdon. [2] [11] [16]

However, Jacky Custis contracted "camp fever" in 1781 at the Siege of Yorktown while serving as Washington's aide and died shortly after Cornwallis surrendered there. [16] [22] Soon afterwards, George Washington "adopted" the two youngest Custis children, Nelly and George, who moved from Abingdon to live with the Washingtons at Mount Vernon. [16] The eldest children, Elizabeth and Martha, remained at Abingdon. [1] [4] [22] [23]

Custis' widow, Eleanor, remarried in the autumn of 1783 to a friend and business associate of George Washington, Dr. David Stuart. [6] [11] [24]

During the period that Dr. Stuart and Eleanor resided at Abingdon, Dr. Stuart served as a delegate from Fairfax County in the Virginia General Assembly and President Washington appointed him to be one of the three commissioners that oversaw planning of the nation's new capital city. [11] [22] [24] In 1791, Dr. Stuart and the other commissioners named the new capital the "City of Washington" in "The Territory of Columbia" (see: History of Washington, D.C.). [25] Dr. Stuart and his wife had sixteen children, at least three of whom (Anne Calvert Stuart, Sarah Stuart and Ariana Calvert Stuart) were born at Abingdon. [19]

Although John Parke Custis had become well-established at Abingdon, his financial matters were in a state of disarray due to his poor business judgement and wartime taxation. [16] After his death in 1781, it took the administrators of the Custis Estate more than a decade to negotiate an end to the transaction through which Custis had purchased Abingdon. [17]

Because the estate had been paid for with Continental currency, the heirs of Gerrard Alexander brought suit against the Custis and Stuart families to recover their money. [2] [11] After years of litigation, Abingdon was returned to Robert Alexander in 1792. [2] [22] After Robert Alexander died in 1793, court-appointed commissioners surveyed his 1,090-acre (440 ha) estate and divided it equally between two of his sons, Robert and Walter. [14] In 1800, Walter Alexander obtained ownership of the southern half of the estate, which contained the 545-acre (221 ha) on which the Abingdon house stood. [2] [11] [14]

In 1805, George Wise acquired a portion of Abingdon that included the house. [26] Others acquired different parts of Walter Alexander's Abingdon property. [27] The Wise family lived at Abingdon until "General" Alexander Hunter acquired 99-acre (40 ha) of the Abingdon property from George Wise and others between 1835 and 1842. [27] [28]

At the same time that John Parke Custis purchased Abingdon from Robert Alexander, he also purchased outright a 1,100-acre (450 ha) tract of land from Gerrard Alexander (2nd). [1] [9] [14] This more northerly tract, which was separated from Abingdon by a 900-acre (360 ha) tract that another Alexander brother, Phillip, had inherited, remained in the possession of the Custis family. G.W.P. Custis, who inherited this land from his father (John Parke Custis) later constructed and named Arlington House on a plantation that he developed on the tract. [1] [9]

Gallery of the Custis family Edit

Weeping willow Edit

According to accounts that historian Benson J. Lossing and others wrote in the mid- to late 1800s and early 1900s that were based on a story that G.W.P. Custis had told to Lossing, John Parke Custis served on George Washington's staff during the Siege of Boston in 1775-1776 and became an emissary to the British forces there. According to these accounts, Custis befriended a young British officer on the staff of General William Howe, 5th Viscount Howe. While in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the officer gave Custis a weeping willow (Salix babylonica) twig that the officer had taken from a famous tree that Alexander Pope had planted at Twickenham and that was first of its kind in England. [5]

The officer had intended to plant his willow sprig wrapped in oiled silk along a stream on land he would seize from the Americans. However, following his army's defeat, he decided to give the sprig to Custis. [5]

Custis then planted the twig at Abingdon. The resulting tree reportedly became the progenitor of all of the weeping willows growing in the United States at the time of the accounts. [5]

One such tree reportedly grew next to Arlington National Cemetery near the northern end of George Washington Parke Custis' mansion (Arlington House). [5] [29] Another reportedly grew from a slip of the Abingdon willow that American General Horatio Gates had planted at the entrance to his Rose Hill Farm in Manhattan. That tree, which became known as "Gates's Willow", grew at a site that became the corner of Third Avenue and 22nd Street. The tree was reportedly cut down in 1860. [5]

However, two 1840 newspaper articles that related G.W.P. Custis' account of the origins of the tree then standing near Arlington House said that John Parke Custis had planted the Twickenham willow twig "on the banks of the Potomac", but had not identified Abingdon as the specific location of the planting. [30] 21st-century writers have questioned the veracity of such accounts. [31]

Hunter family Edit

"General" Alexander Hunter, a descendant of the Alexander family who had served at the Battle of Bladensburg during the War of 1812 as Adjutant of the District of Columbia Regiment of Volunteers, acquired Abingdon from the Wise family and others. [6] [11] [27] [28] [32] [33] General Hunter was a wealthy man who held a position in Alexandria's custom house and reportedly spent lavishly to renovate and beautify his house and estate at Abingdon. [2] [11] [32]

As U.S. Marshal for the District of Columbia, Hunter was a friend of United States President Andrew Jackson. [2] [11] [28] [34] Jackson frequently left Washington City to spend Sundays at Abingdon as Hunter's guest. [2] [11] Hunter reportedly had an inflexible rule that forbade office-seeking and discussions of politics during Jackson's visits. [2] [11] In addition to President Jackson, General Hunter also hosted Presidents John Tyler and James K. Polk at Abingdon. [28] [34]

A chamber on the northeast side of the Abingdon house was referred to as "General Washington's room" during Hunter's ownership because George Washington had usually occupied this room while visiting his stepson, John Parke Custis. [2] [11] Some authors later stated that General Hunter had told visitors that he chose not to build a more pretentious structure because a house that was good enough for Washington was good enough for him. [2] [11]

General Hunter died in 1849, entrusting Abingdon to his brother Bushrod Washington Hunter, until Bushrod's son, also named Alexander Hunter, could come of age. [27] [28] [34] Bushrod Hunter had earlier served as a lieutenant in the United States Navy in 1846 during the Mexican–American War. [32] In 1857, Bushrod Hunter served as a pallbearer at the funeral service for G.W.P. Custis, whose house at the "Arlington Plantation" was not far from Abingdon. [35]

American Civil War Edit

When the American Civil War began in 1861, Bushrod and Alexander Hunter (2nd) left the Abingdon plantation to join Confederate forces. [2] [28] [35] [36] During the war, a New Jersey regiment of the Union Army occupied the Abingdon plantation, calling it "Camp Princeton". [6] [28] [36]

In 1862, the 37th United States Congress enacted "An act for the collection of the direct tax in insurrectionary districts within the United States and for other purposes". [27] [37] In 1864, United States Tax Commissioners confiscated Abingdon and the nearby "Arlington Plantation" under provisions of this act after the owners of each property failed to pay their taxes in person. [27] [35] [38] (A tenant had offered to pay Abingdon's taxes on behalf of the property owner (Bushrod Hunter). However, the government's tax collector refused to accept the payment.) [39]

The government then sold the Abingdon property to Lucius E. Chittenden, Register of the Treasury in the Abraham Lincoln administration. [2] [11] [27] [38] Chittenden then leased the property to Henry M. Bennett. [27] [39] [40]

In 1904, Alexander Hunter (2nd) authored a book (Johnny Reb and Billy Yank) in which he recorded his recollections of the Civil War and its aftermath. In his book, Hunter stated that his father (Bushrod Hunter) had removed his family to Alexandria and in April 1861 had abandoned Abingdon. He wrote of Abingdon, whose structures and landscaping were apparently destroyed during the war:

We lived on a splendid estate of 650 acres, lying on the Potomac, between Alexandria and Washington. I doubt whether in the whole Southland there had existed a finer country seat the house was built solidly, as if to defy time itself, with its beautiful trees, fine orchards, its terraced lawns, graveled walks leading to the river a quarter of a mile away the splendid barns, the stables with fine horses (for which my father, a retired naval officer, had a special fondness), the servants quarters, where dwelt the old family retainers and their offspring, some fifty or more. . The land was there after the war, but that was all. [41]

Post-Civil War Edit

After the Civil War ended, Alexander Hunter (2nd), who by that time had inherited Abingdon, succeeded in recovering his land in a case that the Supreme Court of the United States decided on March 21, 1870 (Bennett v. Hunter, 76 U.S. 326). [42] James A. Garfield, a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives who had been a Brigadier General in the Union Army during the Civil War and who later became the 20th President of the United States, was an attorney on Hunter's legal team. [35] [43] [40] [44]

Congressman Garfield received as compensation 43 acres (17 ha) in a part of Abingdon west of the Alexandria Canal that Alexander Hunter had platted in 1874 as the town of Abington. [27] [45] After moving into the White House upon his election to the Presidency, Garfield began the process of establishing a country home on his holding. [2] [11] Garfield's heirs and an improvement company continued to hold titles to that portion of the Abingdon estate until around the 1920s. [2]

Following the Civil War, Alexander Hunter (2nd) was employed for 40 years as a clerk in the federal General Land Office. [44] [46] [47] In 1877-1879, he served as a Delegate in the Virginia General Assembly and as County Clerk of Alexandria. [44] [47]

In 1881, Hunter advertised Abingdon for sale. [28] During the same year, he sold his remaining Abingdon property at auction to the Alfred Richards Brick Company. [44] The property at Abingdon that Hunter once owned is now within Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Crystal City and the Aurora Hills section of the Aurora Highlands neighborhood (see: List of neighborhoods in Arlington, Virginia). [48]

Hunter v. Hume Edit

Abingdon became the subject of a legal case (Hunter v. Hume) that the Supreme Court of Virginia decided on June 18, 1891. [49] Alexander Hunter (2nd) attempted to recover from Hume a disputed strip of Abingdon land that lay between the Washington and Alexandria Turnpike (now U.S. Route 1) [50] to the east and the Alexandria Canal (now South Eads Street) [45] [51] to the west. [49] The Court ruled that the strip had rightfully passed to Hume. [49]

Industrialization Edit

In 1896, the Washington, Alexandria and Mount Vernon Railway began to run electric trolleys beside the abandoned Alexandria Canal west of Abingdon. [51] [52] By 1902, the railway was distributing a booklet for tourists that described Abingdon and other historic sites along its route. [53] The booklet illustrated a house at Abingdon (identified as the "birth-place of Nellie Custis") that reportedly stood on the bank of Potomac River, a mile east of the railway's tracks beyond a brickyard. [54]

In 1900, the New Washington Brick Company purchased the Abingdon property. The company used steam shovels to dig yellow clay out of the fields at Abingdon for the production of brick used in the construction of buildings in nearby Washington, D.C. [4] In 1912, the Daughters of the American Revolution reported in their magazine that Abingdon was "gradually being eaten away by the steam shovel before which modern invention many old landmarks must fall." [4]

Nevertheless, the Abingdon house was serving in 1922 as the residence of the brick company's superintendent and was in good condition. [2] [55] Vivian Allwine Ford, the supertendent's youngest child, was born in the Abingdon house in 1912 and lived there until 1922. [55] [56]

Structural and landscape architecture Edit

The house at Abingdon that existed during the early 20th century had a wood-frame in the Georgian style that faced east and west. [57] The house was painted white with green shutters, had a shingled hip roof, and had a scattering grove of big trees to the front and sides. [4] [58]

At the east front was located Abingdon's principal garden where the land sloped gradually down to the Potomac River shore about five hundred yards away. [4] [59] Its beams and rafters were of a solid oak, two feet in diameter. [11] It was two stories in height and exhibited red brick chimneys at the structure's north and south ends. [2] [4]

Deterioration, burning and stabilization Edit

In 1922, Lewis Smoot purchased the Abingdon House and 158 acres of the original estate. [60] Smoot transplanted the boxwood bushes that had surrounded the house to his home's lawn in Washington, D.C. [60] In 1924, Smoot sold the property to the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad (RF&P), which planned to extend its rail yard (Potomac Yard) onto the property. [60] [61]

From 1923 to 1927, members of the Beckworth family leased the Abingdon house and farmed the property's land. [62] After the Beckworths vacated the house, the RF&P tried to sell and give away the house's materials to reduce the costs of removing the structure. [60] [61]

By 1928, the Abingdon house had become dilapidated. [52] [60] [63] [64] Visitors reported that people were tenting and enjoying a campfire nearby and that souvenir hunters had removed a cornerstone and parts of a chimney. [63] [65] In that year, the Washington Society of Alexandria asked the RF&P to defer the razing of the building until it could be restored. [63] The Mt. Vernon Memorial Highway (now the George Washington Memorial Parkway) was constructed on Abingdon's grounds between 1929 and 1932. [52] [66]

On March 5, 1930, a fire destroyed the unrestored Abingdon house. [67] The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA) (now named "Preservation Virginia") then stabilized the house's ruins. [6] [52] [61] In 1933, the APVA commemorated the site and placed a historical marker there. [68]

In addition, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) worked on the Abingdon ruins, which in the early 1930s were located in the median of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The CCC landscaped the grounds and built a parking lot, a concrete pad for a monument, and a cinder access road from the parkway to the site of the ruins. The CCC also built a reproduction well cover which was intended to be as close as possible to the design of the well house that was in use when Nelly Custis lived at Abingdon. [69]

For more than 50 years thereafter, the Abingdon ruins remained largely undisturbed, despite the surrounding construction and expansion of Washington National Airport, which opened in 1941, and the construction of the nearby "Nelly Custis Airmen's Lounge". [1] [6] [52] Photographs taken in 1934 and in the 1950s showed the conditions of parts of the ruins during that period, as did a sketch in a pamphlet describing the recently-opened airport that the United States Civil Aeronautics Administration authored in 1941. [70]

Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Edit

The Federal Aviation Administration of the United States Department of Transportation and other federal agencies owned and operated Washington National Airport until 1987. In that year, the airport was transferred to the newly formed Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority under a 50-year lease that the Metropolitan Washington Airports Act of 1986 (Title VI of Public Laws 99-500 and 99-591) had authorized. As a result, the Airports Authority obtained control of Abingdon's property, while the Federal government held title to the airport's lease. [71]

Two years later, in 1989, the Airports Authority revealed that it was planning to replace the Abingdon ruins with a new parking garage. [72] [73] To comply with the provisions of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the Authority commissioned a series of studies that described the history of Abingdon and the archaeological features of the Abingdon site and its surroundings. [74] [75]

The final report of the series, issued in 1991, summarized the studies and examined several alternative treatments of the site. [74] The report stated:

. the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (State historic preservation office) concluded that there was insufficient evidence to link the existing "ruins" with any of the important historic individuals or families reported to have lived on the property. At the present time, there is no concrete evidence on the construction date or history of occupation of the structure represented by the existing ruins. [76]

The 1991 report concluded with a recommendation from the Authority's engineering division that included:

. the undertaking of an appropriate archaeological data recovery program at the site and the construction of a "museum quality" interpretive exhibit to be located within the terminal complex. Once data recovery was performed, parking structure construction would follow. The basis for this recommendation was the intention to avoid an adverse effect to the Abingdon Site (through comprehensive archaeological data recovery and public interpretation program) while at the same time providing the desired amount of parking in the near-terminal area. [77]

The Airports Authority's actions ignited a public preservation effort that culminated in 1992 with legislation that the Virginia General Assembly enacted and that Governor L. Douglas Wilder approved. [78] The legislation required the Airports Authority to "take all steps necessary to insure the preservation in place, the study, and the interpretation to the public" of the Abingdon ruins during a one-year period that followed the law's enactment. [78] [79] During that period, James Wilding, the general manager of the Airports Authority, reported to the Authority's planning committee that multiple options had been identified that would provide adequate parking without having to excavate the Abingdon site. [80]

In 1994, the Airports Authority entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with Virginia and federal officials that assured, among other things, that the resources and historic setting of the site would be protected and that disturbance of the site's archaeological deposits would be avoided during the airport's redevelopment, which was then proceeding. [81] The Authority also issued a March 1994 "Preservation Plan" that summarized the measures that the Authority would take to preserve, repair and protect significant features of the site, while removing other features that the Authority did not consider to be of historical significance. [60] [82]

In 1998, an Airports Authority contractor conducted an archaeological investigation of the Abingdon site, [83] preserved and repaired some of site's remnants and removed others. [84] The Authority relocated some of the artifacts that the contractor had found at the site to a display in a new exhibit hall that the Authority constructed in the airport's original 1941 terminal (Terminal A). [6] [85] [86] A panel in the exhibit hall later reported that archaeologists had recovered over 37,000 artifacts from the Abingdon site since 1988. [87]

The contractor preserved parts of the brick foundations of the Abingdon house and its nearby kitchen, but not all remained visible. [6] [84] [88] The contractor used some of the original foundation's bricks to rebuild a 6 inches (15 cm)-high foundation over a new concrete base. [84] The contractor also used new building materials when restoring portions of the original foundations. [88]

As a result, when the Airports Authority completed the Abingdon site's restoration in 1998, the ruins were reportedly gone, the main foundation looked new and a well had been covered over. [89] Photographs of the reconstructed Abingdon house foundation and kitchen/laundry taken in 2006, 2008 and 2009 illustrated the restoration's condition eight to eleven years later. [90] [91] [92] A group of 2010 photographs also illustrated various features of the renovation and its surroundings. [93]

The Airport Authority's Abingdon Plantation site contains a sequential series of nine historical markers that describe the history of the plantation, its occupants and its site. The Airports Authority erected all but two of these. The markers are:

  • The Ages of Abingdon [58]
  • The Alexander Family [9]
  • Abingdon and John Alexander [10]
  • The Custis Family [22]
  • Abingdon Plantation [88]
  • The Hunter Family [28]
  • The Industrial Age [52]
  • Abingdon [68]
  • Abingdon Plantation Restoration [88]

The airport's Terminal A contains an exhibit hall with panels displaying artifacts excavated at the Abingdon Plantation site. [86] The panels are:

  • Digging Through Layers of Time [87]
  • Daily Life: Colonial Times at Abingdon Plantation [94]
  • Trade Unites Abingdon with the World [95]

The Abingdon Plantation site is located on a knoll between the airport's parking Garage A and Garage B/C. [6] [96] [97] It can be reached by walking from either garage, from the south end of the nearby Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport Metrorail station and from the Mount Vernon Bike-Hike Trail. [6] [96]


Historic Latta Plantation

Many times I have stopped at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee Alabama to visit the Lifting the Veil of Ignorance Monument. It is a tribute to Booker T. Washington who founded Tuskegee University. The inscription I love the most is "he lifted the veil of ignorance from his people and pointed the way to progress through education and industry." The statue portrays Booker T. Washington lifting a veil of ignorance from a frightened slave, who is crouched on a plow and anvil depicting tools of agriculture and holding a book, which represents education. Washington sought to bring a better life to his people through education. As Chief Plenty Coups said, “education is your most powerful weapon. With education, you are the white man’s equal without education, you are his victim, and so shall remain all your lives.”

I, Ian Campbell, as an American man of African descent and the new site manager at Historic Latta Plantation, will lift the veil of ignorance. Under my leadership, the Latta staff will assist in this educational endeavor. With the little information that we have about Latta Plantation, also known as Riverside, the stories of those enslaved as well as freedmen will be told. This new narrative will also include the stories of other enslaved men, women, and children on many other plantations in the United States. It will also include the stories of those enslaved and free before, during, and after the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican American War, the American Civil War and Reconstruction.

For decades Historic Latta Plantation has been focused on two time periods in American history, the American Revolution and the Civil War. That is changing, Latta will now focus on the period of reconstruction as well. Most people have forgotten about this period in our American history. Most educators as well as most of the general public skip this section and move on to the 1900’s or the civil rights movement. Many of the racial issues that we face today are linked to slavery and reconstruction. Just recently, for the first time in their lives, many people just acquired knowledge of the Tulsa Race Massacre. History is not just about one-time period or one group of people. The program “Kingdom Coming” was created by myself, with the help of others. I, Ian Campbell, Site Manager of Historic Latta Plantation take full responsibility for its content entirely! To the masses on social media and politicians, no apology will be given for bringing a unique program to educate the public about former slaves becoming FREE!

The Confederacy will never be glorified, white supremacy will never be glorified, plantation owners, white refugees or overseers will never be glorified. What will be commemorated is the story of our people who overcame being snatched from their loved ones in Mother Africa and taken to a new and strange land. To work from can see to can’t see from birth to death. The fact that they survived and we are here and continue to thrive and prosper will be glorified.

Swing Low Sweet Chariot was used to represent freedom on earth from plantation owners. “What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun?” Ecclesiastes 1:3. The profits of these freedmen would go into their pockets and not the pockets of their owners. To tell the story of these freedmen would be pointless if the stories of others were not included. Many of you may not like this but, their lives were intertwined, the stories of massa, the Confederate soldiers, the overseer, the displaced white families. How would we know how the enslaved became free or what their lives were like before freedom came? It didn’t happen with the stroke of a pen. Federal troops came across many of these plantations to enforce federal laws and many of the owners fled. What they couldn’t take with them they left behind, this included many of their enslaved property. Considered offensive for today, the song Kingdom Coming, The Year of Jubilo highlights the perceived enslaved view point. The core point of this program was overlooked by scores of people.

Those formerly enslaved are now freedmen and have taken over the massa’s house, the house they toiled in seven days a week or in many cases on other plantations even built. They are now living high on the hog, bottom rail on top massa. They now control their own destiny, they have the right to decide on what they want to do with their lives, not the plantation owner! This is what made the white supremacist of the period mad, a former slave on equal footing with whites. The right to get legally married, the right to sign a labor contract on their terms and conditions, the right to an education, also having children without fear of them being sold down the river.

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, simply known as the Freedmen’s Bureau, enforced many of these laws to the dismay of the white population. All this was part of what was called reconstruction. History is not always pretty, Juneteenth was chosen because it means freedom to many and it was a time to celebrate and be joyful. With current events that are ongoing, America is still in reconstruction. We have to know where we come from to understand where we are going. It was painful, it still is painful, we have to honor our ancestors for the sake of those that will be conceived.

However, freedom didn’t come in 1865 when General Gordon Grainger announced General Order Number 3 in Galveston, Texas. Many enslaved people began to steal themselves away when the abhorrent practice of slavery was brought to the Americas. As Union troops occupied the south and plantations early in the war, freedom came for many of the enslaved before Juneteenth, this included cities such as New Orleans and plantations on both sides of the mighty Mississippi. Many people complained about Historic Latta not doing anything for Juneteenth. Then when I create a unique event to highlight our successful struggle out of slavery, there is backlash from many who have never visited our historical site. William T. Sherman had a dislike for the media of his day.

I understand what he may have been going through. I by no means will let this deter me and the vision of lifting the veil of ignorance. The event was canceled due to security concerns for volunteers and staff. The media’s corps of yellow journalist had a perfect opportunity to educate, however, they chose to whip the public into a frenzy, it worked. “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” Rahm Emanuel. In regards to social media, Chief Justice John Roberts said “in our age, social media can instantly spread rumor and false information on a grand scale.”

It was not until after the social media frenzy that Latta received numerous emails and phone calls about the event. I also received a phone call from Vi Lyles, the mayor of Charlotte. As long as I have been at Historic Latta Plantation as a volunteer, then as a part-time employee, then as the education coordinator, then as the interpretive farm manager, then as site manager, I have never seen Vi Lyles, the Mayor of the great city of Charlotte visit our site or any other influential and prominent government officials. The same applies to NPR, WBTV, the Charlotte observer et al. This applies to some of those citizens in the community that have been offended. Your opinions and concerns

have been respectfully noted. However, after reading this, many of you will still be offended, some will be supportive, thank you.

In closing, my job will be to continue to educate. Historic Latta Plantation’s narrative will be to give a voice to our ancestors enslaved and as freedmen who were denied a voice. We will speak for them in a compassionate, accurate, and sensitive manner.


Lakeport Plantation - History

LAKE VILLAGE – “The Polks’ Plantations and the Creation of Cotton Kingdom in the Old South” will be presented in the latest Lakeport Legacies monthly history talk, Thursday, Sept. 28, at the Lakeport Plantation, 601 Hwy 142, in Lake Village.

The event gets underway at 5:30 p.m. with refreshments and conversation, and the program starts at 6 p.m. The program is free and open to the public. For more information and to register, contact Dr. Blake Wintory, assistant director and facilities manager, at 870-265-6031.

Dr. Kelly Houston Jones, assistant professor of history at Austin Peay State University and specialist in the history of slavery, will make the presentation and discuss her research on the Polk family’s extensive cotton plantations across Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas.

The prominent Polk family moved at the center of the historical processes that created “king cotton” in the newest parts of the Old South. Former President James K. Polk, who served from 1845-49, invested in cotton while his relatives ran cotton plantations in the Mississippi Delta. He purchased a plantation in Yalobusha County, Miss., in 1834. A nephew, William Wilson Polk, owned a large plantation at Walnut Bend in Phillips County, Ark., and financed his uncle’s presidential run.
George W. Polk, a cousin of President Polk, co-owned the Hilliard Plantation on Grand Lake in Chicot County. Polk with his brother-in-law, Isaac Hilliard, owned 151 slaves and 550 acres of improved land in 1850. In 1845, he built a magnificent Greek Revival home near Columbia, Tenn., which he named “Rattle and Snap.”

The Polks’ and their business network represent patterns of cotton investment that characterized the late 1840s and early 1850s and built the slave empire of the Old Southwest.

Dr. Jones received her Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas in 2014. Her most recent work will appear later this year in Bullets and Fire: Lynching and Authority in Arkansas, 1840-1950, edited by Guy Lancaster.

Lakeport Legacies is a monthly history talk held on the last Thursday at the Lakeport Plantation during the spring and summer. Each month a topic from the Delta region is featured. The Lakeport Plantation is an Arkansas State University Heritage Site. Constructed in 1859, Lakeport is one of Arkansas’s premier historic structures and still retains many of its original finishes and architectural details.

Open to the public since 2007, Lakeport researches and interprets the people and cultures that shaped plantation life in the Mississippi River Delta, focusing on the antebellum, Civil War and Reconstruction periods.

Arkansas Heritage Sites at Arkansas State University develops and operates historic properties of regional and national significance in the Arkansas Delta. A-State’s Heritage Sites include the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center, Southern Tenant Farmers Museum, Lakeport Plantation, the Historic Dyess Colony: Boyhood Home of Johnny Cash, and the Arkansas State University Museum.

George W. Polk, a Chicot County planter, completed his home, “Rattle and Snap,” near Columbia, Maury County, Tenn. in 1845.


'The Ancestral Roots of Parchman Farm'

Parchman’s history is rooted in Black suffering.

After the Civil War , the South’s economy, government, and infrastructure were left in compete shambles. Desperate to restore the previous economic and social order and to control the freedom of newly emancipated African Americans, Southern states adopted criminal statutes, collectively known as “Black Codes,” that sought to reproduce the conditions of slavery. These laws are also commonly known as Jim Crow laws.

“The plantation owners, as best they could, wanted Blacks to return to the same place as they had been as slaves,” according to historian David Oshinsky, author of Worse Than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice .

In addition to denying Black people the right to vote, serve on juries, and testify against white people, African Americans could be arrested en masse for minor “offenses” such as vagrancy, mischief, loitering, breaking curfew , insulting gestures, cruel treatment to animals , keeping firearms, cohabiting with white people, and not carrying proof of employment — actions which were not considered criminal when done by white people.

In Mississippi, Texas, and other states, legislatures passed “Pig Laws,” which labeled the stealing of a farm animal — or any property valued at more than $10 — “grand larceny,” punishable by five years in prison. Such laws were enforced almost exclusively against Black people, reinforcing the man-made association between Blackness and criminality. “A single instance of punishment of whites under these acts has never occurred,” declared a Tennessee Black convention, “and is not expected.”

While the 13th Amendment abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, it carved out a loophole that allowed for the exploitation of incarcerated people, who were then and now, disproportionately Black.

The amendment abolished slavery and involuntary, “ except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. ” Prisoners — men, women, and hundreds of children as young as 6 or 7 — were then leased to private farmers and business owners who’d previously depended on cheap labor supplied by slaves. By 1880 “at least 1 convict in 4 was an adolescent or a child — a percentage that did not diminish over time,” according to Oshinsky.

For nearly a century, Black children could be bought to serve as laborers for white plantation owners throughout the South. (Image: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection, LC-D428-850)

States profited substantially from the Black Codes and prisoner leasing system. The number of state prisoners in Mississippi rose from 272 in 1874, the year the “Pig Law” was passed, to 1,072 by 1877.

“They needed a workforce,” Oshinsky wrote in Worse Than Slavery. “The best workforce and the cheapest workforce they could get were convicts who were being arrested for largely minor offenses and then leased out for $9 a month.”

The system was synonymous with violence and brutality, a murderous industry considered “slavery by another name.” In 1882, for instance, nearly 1 in 6 Black prisoners died because, unlike under chattel slavery, lessees had little incentive to safeguard the lives of prisoners. “Different from chattel slavery, ‘It is to be supposed that sub-lessees [take] convicts for the purpose of making money out of them,’ wrote a prison doctor, ‘so naturally, the less food and clothing used and the more labor derived from their bodies, the more money in the pockets of the sub-lessee’,” Oshinsky wrote.

Working prisoners to literal death was so commonplace that “not a single leased convict ever lived long enough to serve a sentence of ten years or more,” he wrote.

Due to shifts in the political and economic landscapes , prisoner leasing faded in the early 20 th century, but in its place rose Parchman Farm in Mississippi, Angola prison in Louisiana, and hundreds of other county camps — prisons that used racial oppression to create a supply of forced labor.

Darrill Henry Walks out of Angola Prison After More Than 15 Years of Wrongful Imprisonment


Lakeport Plantation - History

The Arkansas State University Heritage Sites Office develops and operates historic properties of regional and national significance in the Arkansas Delta. These sites provide educational resources for formal and informal learning, including serving as living laboratories for students in the university’s Heritage Studies Ph.D. program. In addition, they serve as economic catalysts in communities where they are located by attracting heritage tourists from around the country.

A-State Heritage Sites also serves as an administrative agent for Arkansas Delta Byways, the official non-profit regional tourism promotion association serving fifteen counties in the Arkansas Delta. These include Arkansas, Chicot, Clay, Craighead, Crittenden, Cross, Desha, Drew, Greene, Lee, Mississippi, Monroe, Phillips, Poinsett and St. Francis counties. A-State Heritage Sites has been instrumental in developing and promoting two National Scenic Byways that traverse this region: the Crowley’s Ridge Parkway and the Arkansas segment of the 10-state Great River Road, which runs along both sides of the Mississippi River, from its headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.

Historic Dyess Colony: Johnny Cash Boyhood Home

Administration Building exhibits tell the story of this New Deal agricultural resettlement colony, while the Cash Home is furnished as it appeared when the Cash family lived there.

Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center

This Piggott site includes the restored barn studio where Ernest Hemingway wrote portions of A Farewell to Arms, as well as the family home of his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer.

Lakeport Plantation

This structure near Lake Village is Arkansas's only remaining antebellum plantation home on the Mississippi River and retains many of its original decorative finishes. Exhibits tell stories of those who lived and worked there.

Southern Tenant Farmers Museum

This museum is located in the historic Mitchell-East Building in Tyronza, which housed the businesses of two of the organizers of the nation's first integrated agricultural union, established in 1934.

Rohwer Japanese American Relocation Center

Some 8,000 Japanese Americans were interned at Rohwer during World War II. Audio exhibits on site and a museum at McGehee preserve their memories.

Historic V.C. Kays House

The home of A-State's first president is being restored to include a replica of the office of former Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe, as well as exhibits related to President Kays and Senator Hattie Caraway.

Arkansas Delta Byways

Arkansas Delta Byways, the 15-county regional tourism promotion association for Eastern Arkansas, is crisscrossed by two National Scenic Byways: the Crowley's Ridge Parkway and the Great River Road.

Heritage Studies Ph.D. Program

Arkansas State University Heritage Sites provide opportunities for research, independent study, practicums, field work, and hands-on experience for students in A-State's Heritage Studies degree program.


Watch the video: Uncovering the History of Slavery at the Lakeport Plantation (December 2021).