Thursday, July 11, 2013

New Details About The Wakefield

A couple of weeks after I returned from Audubon Pilgrimage Tour in St. Francisville, Louisiana, I sent Jolie Berry, the new owner of the Wakefield Plantation, an article about my Morgan and Weather families who were slaves on the Wakefield. All of the information that I related is on my blog and I will not rehash that information here.

I also included one question that the tour guides could not answer: "Is there a slave burial site on the Wakefield property?"  Jolie's response to that question gave me a lot of new information about the plantation. This is what I learned from her email:
  • She and her husband, Dr. Eugene Berry, acquired the Wakefield Antebellum Home in 1988 and are the first owners who are not Stirling family descendants.
  • They acquired 50 acres, the remainder of the original 63,000 acres after many divisions and losses through the years!
  • No slave quarters or production buildings (as sugar mill, cotton gin, grist mill, granary) exists.
  • At the peak of Lewis and Sarah Stirling's acquisition of land, the Wakefield Plantation comprised 62,000 acres!
  • Jolie did not know of a slave burial grounds on the Wakefield. Because of the vast acreage, slaves could be buried anywhere.
  • Jolie said that the land for St. Mary's Church and Burial Ground was a gift of a Stirling family descendant in 1880. (author's note: A plaque on the church indicates that the church was established in 1880.)
  • More land was given by another family descendant in 1990 with a request that a fence be constructed to encompass, protect and delineate the church burial ground - the areas of the graves having exceeded the boundaries of the original gift of land.
  • There are at least two Union soldiers who were buried in unmarked graves according to family speculation.
  • Lilie Stirling Sinclair placed the family documents in the LSU Library in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
  • Jolie asked if I and others would keep them informed about the history of the Wakefield and those whose lives were an integral part of the history of the Wakefield and the Felicianas.

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