Preservation Magazine, Spring 2016

News Brief: Slavery's Traces in Stafford County, Virginia

In the decades leading up to the Civil War, the enslaved population in Stafford County, Virginia, comprised about 39 percent of its citizens. But of the many thousands of slavery-related sites that once existed there, very few remain. In an effort to identify and potentially save some of them, Stafford County commissioned Dovetail Cultural Resources Group with Dennis Pogue, LLC, to conduct a study to record and map these resources.

“Stafford County is very proactive in planning; they had laid out a very strategic plan for the county development, and one of the things they wanted to know was what their historic resources were,” says Dovetail Director of Operations and Marketing Sara Poore.

Exterior shot of the Sanford Burgess Cabin

photo by: Dovetail Cultural Resources Group

Following a yearlong research and archiving process, the team presented a 264-page document identifying 30 key slavery-related sites to the Stafford County Board of Supervisors in October 2015. Dating from as early as 1750 to around 1860, some of these places, which include freestanding kitchens, cemeteries, slave quarters, and mills, are in imminent danger of disappearing. With the help of student volunteers from the University of Mary Washington’s Center for Historic Preservation, researchers made recommendations to the county for further studies and documentation in the hopes of preserving as many of the sites as possible.

Katharine Keane is a former editorial assistant at Preservation Magazine. She enjoys getting lost in new cities, reading the plaques at museums, and discovering the next great restaurant.

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