Exploring Historic Kingsley Plantation
Maintained by the National Park Service, Kingsley Plantation is the home of Florida's oldest surviving plantation house and related to one of the Antebellum South's most surprising historical civil rights cases.
A Photo Tour of Kingsley Plantation
*Many slaves worked in the fields, which were located along the dirt road leading into the slave quarters. The main cash crop here was Sea Island cotton. Other crops included sugar cane, corn, beans, and potatoes. On this Sea Island plantation, slaves were assigned according to the task system. A task was a specific amount of work required for each slave to finish daily. While many slaves worked in the fields, other daily tasks included house work or skilled tasks such as carpentry or blacksmithing. When the task was finished, slaves used whatever remained of the day to hunt, fish, garden, or tend to other personal needs. *
**Restored Cabin **
These structures were built with a material called tabby. Oyster shells, one of the main ingredients, were piled into middens by the Timucua and their ancestors. When planters and slaves first arrived, these shell middens provided abundant building material. Skilled slaves burned the shells to make lime, which was mixed with sand and water. This “concrete” was poured into forms, layer by layer, to make the walls.
The slave quarters were the homes for 60 to 80 enslaved families. Each home had a fireplace and “kitchen,” where slaves prepared their nightly meals, as well as a room for sleeping.
Slaves might have received cornmeal, molasses, salt and other basic provisions from the plantation owner, but had to grow or gather the rest of their food and supplies on a plot of land provided to them. Enslaved families often chose to grow the food of their African cultures. Yams, okra, blackeyed peas, eggplant, and sesame are a few examples.
East End of Slave Quarters
The slave quarters at Kingsley Plantation are laid out in a unique way. Instead of a straight line, the houses form a semi-circle. This pattern is similar to village design in some areas of West Africa.
Notice that the buildings are not all the same size. The larger ones, at the ends of each row, were given to the Driver and his family for the extra responsibility of managing the daily work assignments and reporting to the owner. The larger cabins were also shared for community activities such as cooking, or were given to slave craftsmen as a show of status.
*Like the slave quarters, the walls of the barn are made of tabby. This barn had multiple uses such as storage, housing for animals, a work place for slaves, or even living quarters. The oldest part of the barn is the north end, which is made out of tabby brick.Horses, mules, and oxen pulled plows and wagons, and provided power to operate mills. Cows, pigs and chickens were raised for food. Buildings that are no longer here included workshops for blacksmiths, carpenters, and other skilled craftsmen. There were also saw and sugar mills.