Belle Grove to commemorate its African American history with demonstrations, interpretive programs, and talks

Posted November 01, 2018
Inalienable Rights Free and Enslaved Black Crafting a Life in the Shenandoah Valley

Belle Grove Plantation to Host
Inalienable Rights Free and Enslaved Black Crafting a Life in the Shenandoah Valley
Saturday, November 10, 2018, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Belle Grove will commemorate its African American history with demonstrations, interpretive programs, and talks on Saturday, November 10 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Admission is free of charge.

The Hite family at Belle Grove owned and enslaved 276 men, women, and children from 1783 to 1851. Research is underway to learn more about these individuals and their contributions to the success of the plantation. This event will share this ongoing process of discovery. “The lives and legacy of the enslaved and free blacks who lived in the Shenandoah Valley in the 18th and 19th centuries must not be forgotten,”  said Kristen Laise, Executive Director of Belle Grove. “We look forward to this event as one way to honor their history.”

Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park, the Slave Dwelling Project, Shenandoah Valley Black Heritage Project, Not Your Momma’s History, and others will participate in the event. The Slave Dwelling Project  (www.slavedwellingproject.org) is based in Charleston, South Carolina and has a mission to identify, document, and preserve extant slave dwellings. They bring people together for overnight experiences to discuss the history of slavery and its ramifications. While Belle Grove’s slave quarters have long ago been removed, the lower level of the Manor House, is one place where the enslaved worked and may have slept.

A full schedule of the event is listed below. Visitors are welcome to come by throughout the day to tour the Manor House, see the demonstrations, and participate in the presentations and programs. Founder of the Slave Dwelling Project, Joseph McGill will be a featured speaker. To date, Mr. McGill and his team have spent the night in dwellings in 22 states and Washington, D.C.  This is the Project’s second visit to Belle Grove Plantation. The Slave Dwelling Project will spend Saturday night at Belle Grove with a group of students and staff from Lord Fairfax Community College and Shenandoah University.

Living historians who work with the Slave Dwelling Project will conduct demonstrations throughout the day. Jerome Bias and Cheyney McKnight will conduct hearth cooking demonstrations in Belle Grove’s historic kitchen (as seen in image above) and Gilbert Walker will conduct blacksmithing demonstrations in the authentic forge. The Slave Dwelling Project’s participation in this event is made possible through the sponsorship of Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park.

Other talks include “Not Everyone Was Enslaved: The Freeborn of the Shenandoah Valley,” by Robin Lyttle of the Shenandoah Valley Black Heritage Project an African-American history and genealogy group based in Harrisonburg. Ms. Lyttle will be at Belle Grove all day to meet with guests individually. There will also be a talk by Archaeologist Matthew Greer on the archaeological investigation that is taking place where Belle Grove’s slave quarters once stood.

The 5 p.m. History at Sunset program by Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park Ranger Shannon Moeck will end the day and present the latest research findings about the Jackson family who were enslaved at Belle Grove and who purchased their freedom.

 

SCHEDULE

10:00 am                 Belle Grove opens

10:30 – 11:00        Presentation: Not Everyone Was Enslaved: The Freeborn of the Shenandoah Valley
Robin Lyttle, Shenandoah Valley Black Heritage Project

11:15 – 11:45         Hearth Cooking Demonstration
Jerome Bias of The Slave Dwelling Project & Cheyney McKnight of Not Your Momma’s History

12:00 – 12:30         Program: Kneading in Silence: A Glimpse into the Life of the Enslaved Cook Judah
Shannon Moeck, Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park

1:00 – 2:00              Presentation: The Slave Dwelling Project
Joe McGill, Founder of The Slave Dwelling Project

2:30 – 3:00              Presentation: Archaeological Investigation of the Slave Quarter Site at Belle Grove
Matthew Greer, Archaeologist, Syracuse University

3:15 – 3:45              Hearth Cooking Demonstration
Jerome Bias of The Slave Dwelling Project & Cheyney McKnight of Not Your Momma’s History

4:00 – 4:30              Program: Kneading in Silence: A Glimpse into the Life of the Enslaved Cook Judah
Shannon Moeck, Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park

5:00                           Upper Level of Belle Grove Manor House Closes

5:00 – 6:00              Program: Free at Last: The Complicated Road to Freedom for Emmanuel Jackson
Shannon Moeck, Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park

6:00 pm                    Belle Grove closes