Joseph McGill, Founder of The Slave Dwelling Project, Visits Hobcaw Barony

Last month, the Between the Waters team was joined by Joseph McGill, founding director of The Slave Dwelling Project, for a week-long series of events at Hobcaw Barony.  Following our “Voices of the Village” panel discussion, Patrick Hayes joined McGill (and Hobcaw volunteer Alec Tuten) during his overnight stay in the former home of Laura Carr, a formerly enslaved woman who worked as a  field hand and midwife.  

 Joseph McGill relaxes in front of the hearth in Laura Carr's home before participating in an interview for our forthcoming Between the Waters virtual tour.

Joseph McGill relaxes in front of the hearth in Laura Carr’s home before participating in an interview for our forthcoming Between the Waters virtual tour.

Brief but inspiring, our overnight stay in the dwelling sometimes called the “Carr Cabin” or “Laura’s House” began somewhat late in the evening with arrival and setup for a videotaped interview. The plan for our interview set with Mr. McGill was to keep shadows and dark corners of the interior intact to approximate the light, most likely that of a candle or hearth, that Ms. Carr and others who lived there might have experienced. The irony of how easily this dwelling could be lit, if not overly lit, by a battery powered LED light kit purchased on the internet was not lost on us.

Our extended interview with Joseph McGill covered a range of topics, some familiar to those who have spent time with Mr. McGill, others unique to our visit and this particular dwelling. We discussed Ms. Laura Carr’s role as Friendfield’s root doctor and midwife and how that layer added to his experience and interpretation of the space. We also discussed Robert McClary, a former resident of Friendfield Village, and how his ongoing visit provided a rare opportunity for Mr. McGill and the public to interact with someone who had lived in a dwelling relatively unchanged since the antebellum era. This videotaped discussion with Mr. McGill will be part of the Between the Waters web documentary and virtual tour in 2016.

The Between the Waters team shared this tiny room in Laura Carr's dwelling. The "living room" was not much larger than this space.

The Between the Waters team shared this tiny room in Laura Carr’s dwelling. The “living room” is not much larger than this space.

We took to our bedrolls almost immediately after the interview. Though the spring weather was particularly kind that night, I imagined how extremes easily changed the situation during Ms. Carr’s time. Rest, while not fitful, was full of strange, vivid dreams certainly influenced or suggested by the history of the space. One dream in particular, that of a hand placing a smooth river stone on my head as I slept, continues to be a topic of discussion between me and my colleagues.

I awoke to my colleague sitting on his bedroll using his phone to take a photo of a shuttered, barndoor-style window through which a thin square seam of sunlight leaked into the room. Perhaps it was this same seam of light that Ms. Carr, or those who lived here before her, woke to every morning as well. Clearly, as I later learned, her day would have already begun.

 

To learn more about The Slave Dwelling Project, visit their website: http://www.slavedwellingproject.org

Episode 3, pt. 2: A Visit to Hampton Plantation with Vennie Deas Moore, Independent Cultural Historian

 

Born and raised in the South Carolina Lowcountry, Vennie Deas Moore has been a witness to its ever-changing community. Through her writings, research, and especially her documentary photography, where she follows in the traditions of Zora Neale Hurston and Dorothea Lange among others, Vennie Deas Moore captures powerful stories through her words and images.

Born and raised in the South Carolina Lowcountry, Vennie Deas Moore has been a witness to its ever-changing community. Through her writings, research, and especially her documentary photography, where she follows in the traditions of Zora Neale Hurston and Dorothea Lange among others, Vennie Deas Moore captures powerful stories through her words and images.

Please click the “play” button above.

In the final installment of this two part episode, we continue our visit with Vennie Deas Moore at Hampton Plantation, a former rice plantation turned state park located along the South Santee River.  After leaving the African American cemetery located on the property, Ms. Moore shared her interpretive work in the Colonial-era plantation house and the surrounding rice fields.  Afterwards, we journeyed to nearby Germantown, where freedmen and their descendants have lived for generations. To learn more about Vennie Deas Moore’s career and upcoming projects see: http://deasmoo.wix.com/southern-writer

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