rom May 25 to June 26, 1999, the National Park Service's Southeast Archeological Center (SEAC) conducted archeological testing at the sites of the Stafford and Rayfield Plantations slave cabin ruins located on Cumberland Island, Georgia. This project was undertaken to comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act prior to the stabilization of the eleven standing chimneys at Stafford Plantation and the one remaining chimney at Rayfield Plantation.
The slave cabins were occupied between the mid-1820s and 1865. Their occupants were the labor force that produced the famous "sea island cotton," renowned worldwide for its quality. Following the destructive Civil War, all that remains of Robert Stafford's plantation are a few standing cabins, the memories, and the archeological remains. The setting and historic accounts of Cumberland Island have been adapted and dramatized for a recently produced opera entitled "Zabette."
The field work was supervised by John Cornelison and David Brewer of SEAC. Work included remote-sensing, incuding electro-conductivity, magnetometry, and metal detecting, which was followed by survey and testing. Individual home sites were excavated to determine relationships and lifestyles, including subsistence, status differentiation, refuse patterns, and general quality of life strategies. Previous archeological investigations in 1979 indicated that a rich and complex archeological assemplage would be found at the slave cabins. For further information on the 1979 work, phone (850-580-3011 x123) or e-mail John Ehrenhard of SEAC.
A comparative analysis is being conducted of materials found at the Rayfield and Stafford sites as well as other slave ruin sites within the southeastern United States. A report of findings is being prepared. For further information, call (850-580-3011 x127) or e-mail John Cornelison of SEAC.
While the National Park Service researchers were in the field, a daily
progress report with pictures and text was placed on-line.
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