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In Her Father's Footsteps: Daughter Accompanies Dad on Slave Cabin Preservation Mission

Jocelyn and Joseph McGill, Middleton Place Plantation

It was not your typical father-daughter outing - there was no dance, no barbeque, no scavenger hunt.

Instead, 14 year old Jocelyn McGill joined her father in an overnight stay at Middleton Place Plantation, to experience first-hand her father's efforts to preserve historic slave cabins.

Joseph McGill, Program Officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, sleeps in historic slave cabins to raise awareness of the need to preserve these sites of memory for African American history. On his most recent overnight stay, he was joined by his 14 year old daughter Jocelyn.

Here, they share their reflections on their stay at Middleton Place.

Joseph Says:

While I am anxious to tell the world all about what happened with the Slave Dwelling Project since my last overnight stay at Brattonsville Plantation on Saturday, November 6, 2010, I must respectfully restrain myself.

My most recent stay was Saturday, March 12, 2011 at Middleton Place in Charleston, SC. I was thrilled to be accompanied by my 14 year old daughter Jocelyn on that night.

The next three paragraphs will be her account of that experience. Unfortunately, her desire to stay far exceeded her desire to write about the experience so here goes.

Jocelyn Says:

When I got there I looked around the cabin we were going to sleep in. The cabin that we stayed in was one of the first buildings I saw when I walked in. I thought it was going to be very small and dirty, but it was actually spacious and clean.

While I was there I walked around to look at the animals. They had sheep that had some lambs, goats, Ginny hens, a mule, peacocks, chickens, ducks, a horse, water buffalos, and cows.

Jocelyn McGill at Middleton Place Plantation

A reporter came and asked us some questions, and after he left, we started a fire and made some s’mores. A photographer came and took some pictures, and when he left we put the fire out and went to sleep.

 

When I woke up I went outside and sat in front of the cabin. The reporter came back, and asked more questions. We walked around and looked at the animals, and I got to pet the horse and the mule. They said there were bob cats, but I didn’t see any.

Joseph Says:

Jocelyn still has the desire to stay at other sites in the future but I do not know if an opportunity like Middleton Place will present itself in the future. I am just thrilled that we could spend that quality time together and hope that her participation will inspire a younger audience to be interested in the Slave Dwelling Project.

In this second year of the project, it will expand to the states of Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Maryland and North Carolina.

The overnight stays are now interspersed with lectures and public interaction when feasible. At least two additional outlets will publish the blogs of each stay. Francis Marion University in Florence, SC has provided funding for a research assistant. The South Carolina National Heritage Corridor is assisting with researching extant slave dwellings within the corridor.

The Magnolia Plantation and Garden’s foundation has provided some funding for the project. A documentary about the Morris Street Slave Dwellings in Anderson, SC has been produced. A local artist is painting a picture that will interpret and benefit the project.

I am consulting with property owners on what should be done with slave dwellings that they possess. Several well capable property owners have offered to relocate dilapidated slave dwellings to their properties for restoration. The future for the Slave Dwelling Project looks bright.

Learn More About Joseph McGill and the Slave Cabin Project

Joseph McGill, a program officer with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and a Civil War re-enactor, began the Slave Cabin Project to raise awareness of the need to preserve endangered slave cabins. Last year, McGill spent the night in eight cabins in South Carolina and two in Alabama.

This year, the project will expand, with overnight stays in Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina and Texas.

Listen:

From NPR's All Things Considered: Honoring Slaves by Sleeping in Their Cabins

View:

A One-Man Campaign to Save Slaves' Homes

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