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SANKOFA'S SLAVERY DATA COLLECTION

Stagville Plantation

Location: Durham Co., NC
Constructed: ----

History: The North Carolina plantation holdings of the Bennehan-Cameron family were among the largest of the pre-Civil War South. Approximately 900 slaves worked that land, which totalled almost 30,000 acres by 1860. Stagville, a plantation of several thousand acres, lay at the center of this enormous estate. For thousands of years, Native Americans lived here until, in the 1750s, major European settlement began in the area. By the end of the eighteenth century the plantation form of agriculture had taken root. Richard Bennehan, a Virginian merchant, established Stagville plantation. On land he from Judith Stagg he and his wife, Mary Amis, controlled their estate from the vernacular Georgian-style house (Bennehan House, 1787) still standing at Stagville. Their unmarried son Thomas also lived there until his death in 1847.

The land holdings of the Bennehans, together with those of the Camerons, continued to grow during the early decades of the nineteenth century, and an impressive array of plantation buildings was erected. The slave community grew in size as well. On each of the Bennehan-Cameron-owned plantations stood a row of slave houses. The Horton Grove slave quarters housed perhaps eighty men, women, and children in its two-story, four-room houses. More commonly, one- and two-room cabins sheltered slaves at adjoining Bennehan-Cameron plantations. There slaves named Esther, Phoebe, Dandridge, and Solomon returned after hard days of fieldwork or of repairing plantation buildings and fences. The massive mule stable at Stagville provides the most monumental evidence of the slave presence. Erected in 1860, when Paul Cameron owned Stagville, it demonstrates both the agricultural prosperity of the 1850s and the capabilities of plantation craftsmen.

Associated Surnames: Bennehan, Cameron, Stagg

Associated Plantations: Fairntosh (Durham Co., NC)


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