Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mendenhall Plantation

~ Not the usual plantation

I recently visited a local historical site. It’s one of those places you always intend to go to, but never seem to get the opportunity to stop. But I made time. Mendenhall Plantation isn’t a plantation in the traditional sense of the word. It’s the home of a Quaker family, and Quakers didn’t own slaves. This is no Tara, this is quite the opposite. It’s a view of pre-Civil War Southerners who didn’t own slaves. The Mendenhalls were from Pennsylvania and came to North Carolina prior to the Revolutionary war.
There were several amazing features of the house—

  • The house itself is a two-story structure build on a dugout basement. Interestingly enough there is a trap door from the first floor to the basement.
  • There were no elaborate decorations no grand curved stairways. These stairways were steep and utilitarian, taking up the smallest footprint possible.
  • A quilt rack was suspended from hooks on the first floor ceiling and could be raised for storage and lowered for use.
  • The barn was a bank barn, two stories yet built on a hill so no stairs were needed. Again there were trap doors here as well to move the hay from the loft on the second floor to the animals on the first.
  • A wagon was one of the most amazing items. It had a false bottom for hiding slaves. Two boys would ride through town with a seeming load of hay but in a hidden compartment were men and women. Giving aid to runaway slaves was a criminal offence, yet these peace-loving, principled people risked their lives and to help others.
  • The trap door on the first floor leads to the basement and not just a hole in the ground an area where people could hide, it was a little apartment where people could reside. Most likely the first occupant had lived in the basement while he built his home and later served a other purpose—a place for slaves to reside until they could find passage to a safer area.

I really gained a greater appreciation for The Society of Friends and their contributions to America’s founding and history.
Here is a link to the website:


Tanya Hanson said...

Hi Mallary, what a terrific post. I knew the Quakers were amazing Abolitionists, and I totally love all these details. One of my favorite movies and books is Friendly Persuasion.


Paty Jager said...

Interesting information and I can see a book coming from this. ;)

Celia Yeary said...

Wonderful information about the house--I love old houses. They always seem to have a personality. Your article reminded me of the 1956 movie "Friendly Persuasion," with Gary Cooper and Dorothy McQuire (who resembled Grace Kelly)--The man and his boys did some of the things you speak of. Celia

Lauri said...

Great post. I love visiting sites like this.