Yesterday afternoon, I had the honor of visiting Brackett’s Farm – a beautiful old plantation, where they are hoping to find researchers who will help them tell the stories of the people enslaved there. They invited my friend Lynn Rainville to visit, particularly so that Lynn could talk with them about the possible locations of the slave cemetery/ies there.*
To say the visit was a gift would be an understatement.
The opportunity to visit a historic place – a place where people have written their stories long and wide in the landscape – is not one I pass up often. But to go to one of these places with the intention of looking for the stories often erased, ignored, or overwritten – that is joy itself for me.
We took a tour of the downstairs of the big house – a beautiful building with arches doorways and wide, pine floors, and I stared with reverence at the two standing slave cabins there – brick structures that could breath tales of hardship and beauty I cannot even begin to imagine.
We walked to the family cemetery and stood amongst those stones, gazing back toward the house with the hope that perhaps we could see where the enslaved community was buried. We did not find that place . . . yet.
I looked out across the fields there – cattle moving along the pasture as they have for more than 200 years – and I took the first deep breath I have in what feels like days.
This, this work – I thought – this is why I am here. . . to find these stories, to know these people, to stand in quiet places and listen as hard and still as I can.
Brackett’s Farm is seeking to restore many of the historic buildings on the property, including the two standing slave quarters. If you would like to make a donation, please visit this link for more information.
*If your ancestors were once enslaved in Louisa County, Virginia, perhaps they were at Brackett’s Farm? Please comment below if you’d like, and I’ll connect you with Louisa researchers who might be able to help you find out more about your family.