Redcliffe Plantation shares stories about local slaves

AIKEN -- Redcliffe Plantation is expanding its educational offerings on the lives of slaves who lived and worked on Aiken County's plantations, starting with their efforts to escape.


The African American Experience series will focus on slave resistance during its February program, starting at 10 this morning.

This year, for the first time since the Beech Island plantation opened to the public, the African-American Experience program will be offered three times.

The program was previously offered only in February, said Park Ranger Joy Raintree.

"Our staff has doubled, and our park interpreter has done some great research," Raintree said. "This will allow us to do a lot more. There a lot of stories that have been unknown and untold."

Park Interpreter Elizabeth Laney invested months of research into today's program, including reading through letters written by James Henry Hammond, the owner of the Hammond Plantation.

Hammond was one of the area's five plantations. The others were Cowden, Cathwood, Redcliffe and Silver Bluff. According to Hammond's letters, 53 slaves attempted to escape the plantations.

"There's no evidence that any of them were successful," Laney said. "We want to celebrate, and talk about the courage of those individuals who made those attempts."

Today Laney will allow visitors to view the letters written by Hammond and tour the Redcliffe mansion and slave quarters.

A program on slave nutrition will be offered in June, and a program on African origin will be offered in November, Raintree said.

"I hope we're able to see repeat visitors that come back year after year now," Raintree said. "We will have different stories to be told as our learning institution grows."

If you go

WHAT: African American Experience: Slave Resistance program

WHERE: Redcliffe Plantation, 181 Redcliffe Road, Beech Island

WHEN: 10 a.m. to noon

COST: $6 for adults, $5.25 for seniors, $4 for children ages 6 to 16