Monday, July 8, 2013
GUIDES AT THE WAKEFIELD
On March 15, 2013, I toured the Wakefield Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana. No photographing was allowed inside of the plantation but we were able to photograph the exterior and the grounds. That's me on right in the green blouse.
Nell "Nini" Figge was the guide on the verandah. She talked about the history of the plantation and said that her great grandmother, Mary Rucker Stirling was born in 1869 at the Wakefield. I almost stated that my great grandparents were born here, too. I made a mental note to talk to her after touring the plantation.
When I entered the parlor on the right, I saw a picture of Lewis Stirling on the wall. I asked the guide if it was a picture of Stirling, Senior or Junior. She checked and indicated that it was Stirling, Sr. Since I was not hearing anything about the slaves on the Wakefield, I decided to tell the guide that my ancestors were slaves on that plantation. She was very interested because it was a history that they knew nothing about. We talked long after the tour group moved on and she told me to tell that man, her husband, who was in the dining room, what I had just told her. He, too, was very interested. They gave me their cell phone numbers and invited me to stay with them the next time I was in Louisiana to do research.
Lewis Stirling's bedroom was next on the tour. After listening to the guide, I was on a roll; I told her that my ancestors were slaves on the Wakefield. She said the owners of the Wakefield would want to talk to me, so we left the bedroom and went looking for the owners. Dr. Eugene Berry was not on the property but we found Mrs. Joli Berry in a cottage getting ready to change into her period costume. She expressed interest in my story and asked me to send her the details via email.
My tour of the plantation was over. I sought Nell, the guide on the verandah, and waited until she completed talk. We talked and exchanged email addresses. She also wanted details of my family on the Wakefield.
The guides and the owner seemed genuinely interested in the slaves who resided at the Wakefield Plantation. I was received warmly and the guides were gracious. They knew nothing of that history, just the story of the Stirling family. My cousin Kirk had the same experience at the Beechwood, home of Alexander Stirling, father of Lewis Stirling.