SANKOFA'S SLAVERY DATA COLLECTION

Gee's Bend Plantation

Location: 7 miles from Camden; Wilcox Co., Alabama
Constructed: 1816

History: Long before Gee's Bend was ever known, it was "Indian" land. It is thought that, in the sixteenth century, Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto visted an Indian village on a creek in this area before he pushed on toward his death in Mississippi. The Black natives of this land claim Indian blood, having Native American surnames and physical characteristics.

The first recorded white resident to live in the area was Joseph Gee, a planter from Halifax, North Carolina, who came in 1816, established a plantation, and named the place for himself. Upon his death in 1824, he left 47 black slaves. Two of his North Carolina nephews, Sterling and Charles Gee, came to Alabama in the hopes of inheriting his estate. During the legal maneuverings, Sterling inherited a family estate back home and returned to live there. Charles became manager of the Gee's Bend plantation. Some people say the Bend accomodated a slave trading operation for the Gees between Alabama and North Carolina.

In 1845 the two Gee brothers owed $29,000 to their relative Mark H. Pettway. As settlement, they have him Gee's Bend. A year later, Pettway and his family moved there in a caravan with a hundred or more slaves. Except for one cook, the slaves literally walked from North Carolina toGee's Bend. The 10,000 acre plantation retained "Gee" for its name but the name of each of the slaves became "Pettway", a name that has prevailed in Wilcox County until the present day. Today, if someone from Gee's Bend is named Pettway, he or she is a descendant or married to a descendant of those Mark Pettway wagon-train slaves who walked from North Carolina. After emancipation the black Pettways remained on the land as tenants or sharecroppers.

Associated Surnames: Gee, Pettway


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Associated Black Slave Names

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