Love Letters to Writers book cover


When my family moved to these Central Virginia plantations when I was 14, I had no sense of the history of slavery that was at the heart in this place. No one really discussed the enslaved people who had built these beautiful buildings beyond mention of the fact that there was a slave graveyard.

So when – in college – I realized the silence around these individuals, I began to be interested . . . and a bit ashamed because, well, I was part of the silence, too. This book is my attempt to speak their stories aloud so that others will know these people. Their stories are not mine, but they have shaped who I am and the work I do now as a writer, genealogist, and historian. Thank you for wanting to know these people.


Pick up a copy from your favorite retailer, or order your paperback copy with the button below to get an signed edition, and be sure to let me know if you’d like a particular inscription.


Information for Descendants

If you believe you are descended from any of the individuals discussed in The Slaves Have Names, please let me know. I’d love to help you trace your connections and provide you with copies of the documents I have that might be relevant to your ancestry. Also, if you need help with research about your genealogy in Central Virginia, please contact research Kristin Hicks at Hicks Research Services and Historical Consulting.


Many, many people have asked for photographs of these people and these places. The Library of Congress does have a collection of historic photos of the Bremo plantations.

(All images are copyrighted by the Library of Congress and the Cocke family. Used with permission. All rights reserved.)

The barn at Upper Bremo, built by enslaved masons learning the craft in order to build the big house.

The residence that I believe was the “hotel,” where the single men and four families lived.

The stables where Jesse Nicholas Skipwith tended the horses.

Resources about the Enslaved Communities at the Bremo Plantations and in Virginia

I am deeply indebted to two writers who explored life on the Bremo plantations before me.

  1. Boyd Coyner’s dissertation John Hartwell Cocke: A Southern Original gave me a great deal of information about the master at these plantations, particularly his agricultural practices and work with hiring overseers. Unfortunately, this text is not in print, but it is available through the University of Virginia library system.
  2. Randall Miller’s amazing work “Dear Master”: Letters of a Slave Family helped me find surnames for many of these individuals, but it also gave me a way, early on, to hear these people speak. It’s a wonderful collection of letters written by the Skipwith family to their master.
  3. Alan Taylor’s The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 is the source for the story of slave escapes via canoe in the Tidewater of Virginia. Taylor was nominated for this year’s National Book Award, and so very rightly so.

Andi Cumbo-Floyd

About the Author

Andi Cumbo-Floyd grew up on Lower Bremo Plantation and attended Fluvanna County High School with some of the descendants of the people she profiles in this book. She is also the author of God’s Whisper Manifesto.


The Slaves Have Names content in any physical or digital format, including books, audio, and video programs may not be reproduced, in part or in whole, in any media format, without express written permission from Andi Cumbo-Floyd.

This includes, but is not limited to, the use of any text (regardless of length of excerpt), chart, figure, table, image, or audio or video recording.

Permission must be obtained even in cases where there is no intention to charge for the work in which the copyrighted material would be contained.

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