Just outside Memphis I went to visit the Davie House Plantation. What a great museum with the most knowledgeable curator Kat. I arrived to find a sign on the door saying walk-in tours Friday to Sunday, Tuesday to Thursday by appointment please call, with a number. I was so disappointed as I had checked that they were open. So, I called the number to see if I might be able to book a tour for later. Well Kat answered the phone and said give me 1 min to open the door I’m just in the back, and then proceeded to give me a 2-hour private tour. It was fascinating she knew so much and I asked a hundred questions.
The first thing she explained was that the big plantations we see in movies like Django and Gone with the Wind only comprised about 10% of the plantations at that time and belong to the wealthy upper-class. Then there were about 60% of the plantations that were like the Davies House plantation and considered middle class. They did grow cotton and the people owned slave, about 15 to 22 at one time, whereas the large plantations would have up to 100 or hundreds.
It was so interesting to learn how the house built in 1807 is still standing due to the way it was built and the materials used. It stated as a 1 room cabin built by the family and grew into the house there is today. I find it fascinating to see how people lived in the past, and am also super grateful that I live now and not back in those times. For example, when women prepared to give birth they prepared for death as well, because of the high rate of deaths in childbirth.
One of the many interesting stories Kat told me was that Ellen Davies wrote a lot of books and in one explained how her sharecropper Moses, who she often used as a Butler, was an amicable trustworthy man that she was fond of. However, from interviews with Moses daughter you hear the other side of the story about hose Moses was terrified of Ellen Davies. He did everything in his power to please her to keep on her good side and keep his family employed as share croppers on the property. Basically, sharecropping is like indentured work, so legal slavery without the cruelty. As it was explained to me.
The property itself is stunning and I got pretty close to some deer.