NPS Hampton NHS
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  • Stop 4: Slave Quarters

    From the colonial period through 1864, the Ridgelys enslaved over 500 African American men, women and children. Enslaved persons, from young children to the elderly, labored in a wide variety of capacities at Hampton and Northampton: as ironworkers, founders, limestone and marbel quarriers, millers, blacksmiths, gardeners, dairymaids, jockeys, cobblers, seamstresses, woodcutters, field hands, carriage drivers, cooks, childcare providers, cleaners and builders.


    These cabins behind the Overseer's House were built about 1854, made of stone cut from the Ridgely quarry. These stone structures are sturdier and larger than quarters on most other plantations of the time. They were built as duplex units with a central interior wall, so it is likely that a family lived in the two rooms on each side.


    Family life for many of the enslaved centered around the Slave Quarters. It was here that families ate meals of salted pork, beef, corn meal and fish. These meals may have been supplemented by fresh vegetables grown in small gardens behind the quarters. Stories, told by the fireside, might recall ancient African traditions. In these buildings, enslaved families could enjoy a limited amount of privacy and could speak freely, away from the watchful eyes of the overseer or the Ridgely family.


    Go to the Tenant Farmer's Quarters, in the second of the Stone Slave Cabins, to learn about the farm after Emancipation.