The book isn’t quite out yet, but I’m excited to see people already have questions about the people and the place from its pages. I cannot tell you how excited these questions make me as I finish up the final stages of going to press.
Here are the most frequently asked questions about the book:
1. What made you interested in writing about the slaves from this plantation?
At some point in college, I realized that the people I had gone to high school with may have been descended from the people who were enslaved at the plantation. I was surprised and ashamed that I had never thought of this possibility before, and so I began to do research on these people. I wanted to know about the more than 100 people buried in a slave cemetery up the road from my house. And I wanted to understand their experience as slaves.
2. How did you come to live on a former slave plantation?
When I was 14, my dad took a position as the manager of this plantation. His job was to oversee the grounds and house and to start a wholesale tree nursery. My family moved into a small house on the farm, as it is now called, and my dad still lives there to this day over 20 years later.
3. How many people were enslaved on the plantation?
On the three plantations owned by the original “master,” including the one I grew up on, there were at least 246 enslaved people in the 75 or so years that slaves lived and worked there.
4. Is it possible for us to come and see the plantation?
It is not. These farms are privately owned and are not open for tours. However, if your family might have been a part of the enslaved community, I would love to hear from you and see if we can’t connect your family to my research.
Additionally, the properties themselves are not the focus of my book – the people are. So many times, we visit historical buildings – particularly Southern plantation homes – and we talk about the land and the owners. Enslaved people are almost universally overlooked in these places. My hope is that this book will help us all remember that it was slaves that built these places and, moreover, it was on the backs of slaves that we built the very economy of the United States.
5. What was it like to grow up on a slave plantation?
I honestly didn’t really think of it as a plantation at all when I was a teenager. It was just my home, a home I didn’t really like because it was very far from anything “fun” to do. But now, now I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to grow up there. I’m so grateful to the current owners AND to the enslaved people who quite literally built this place.
6. Where was this community of enslaved people located?
This community was in Central Virginia, Fluvanna County specifically. Before coming to Fluvanna, many of these people lived in Surry County, Virginia. Many of the slave families stayed here in Fluvanna, but many also moved to Hale County, Alabama, where they were enslaved on another of their owner’s plantations.
I hope these answers give you just a little more background for the book. I can’t wait to put this book in your hands so that you can marvel at the remarkable strength, beauty, and determination of these people. I can’t wait for you to meet them.
What other questions do you have about the book? I can’t promise to answer them all – after all, we have to leave something for the book itself – but I will do my best to answer what I can.
Don’t forget to sign up for your FREE pdf copy of The Slaves Have Names at the top of this page. I’ll be sending out copies very soon. ‘