Lost Plantations of the South
Marc R. Matrana
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The great majority of the South's plantation homes have been destroyed over time, and many have long been forgotten. In Lost Plantations of the South, Marc R. Matrana weaves together photographs, diaries and letters, architectural renderings, and other rare documents to tell the story of sixty of these vanquished estates and the people who once called them home.
From plantations that were destroyed by natural disaster such as Alabama’s Forks of Cypress, to those that were intentionally demolished such as Seven Oaks in Louisiana and Mount Brilliant in Kentucky, Matrana resurrects these lost mansions. Including plantations throughout the South as well as border states, Matrana carefully tracks the histories of each from the earliest days of construction to the often contentious struggles to preserve these irreplaceable historic treasures. Lost Plantations of the South explores the root causes of demise and provides understanding and insight on how lessons learned in these sad losses can help prevent future preservation crises. Capturing the voices of masters and mistresses alongside those of slaves, and featuring more than one hundred elegant archival illustrations, this book explores the powerful and complex histories of these cardinal homes across the South.
fam’lys upon one Divided wch [sic] contains 21,966 acres, which I will either sell them in fee at 17 [pounds] sterling for every hundred acres, or else lease it to them for three lives paying 20 shillings p. annum for every hundred acres . . .”21 Fitzhugh leased large portions of the property to, among others, French Huguenots, who had fled Europe to avoid religious persecution. These settlers, however, found the Ravensworth tracts to be primitive and difficult. Their only shelters were scanty
the middle of a very large yard punctuated with numerous and massive oaks. A tranquil pond rested to one side of the mansion. Beyond, fields blanketed the horizon that was dotted with slave cabins, barns, and production buildings. Finding success with an estate of his own, Thomas Porcher married Catherine Gaillard, the daughter of Captain Peter Gaillard of The Rocks, another lost plantation once located near Eutawville. Their daughter, Elizabeth, married Dr. Charles Lucas, who expanded White
agricultural work of his plan- tation. Aided in great part by James Pemberton, Davis oversaw the clearing of land, the planting of fields, and the construction of plantation buildings. Amid the demands of his plantation estate, Davis’s existence was enlivened with his marriage to Varina Howell, the nineteen-year-old daughter of William B. Howell and Margaret Kempe, on February 26, 1845. Varina reminisced about her days at Brierfield as a newlywed: “We passed many happy days there, enlivened by
a letter: So we entered and there in the parlor of the house was quite a party, singing and laughing and having a fine time generally. Among them were three Confederates dressed in their gray uniforms. I walked in and went up to the one that seemed to be in command, touched him on the shoulder and inquired, “Are you a Confederate officer?” He promptly replied, “Yes, I am.” At this the singing stopped, and the ladies present came around and insisted that we Yankees were not gentlemen and that we