Hume Plantation – Slave Street Project – Cat Island, SC 2017
Selections from my trip to the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center
Wednesday, May 31st, 2017
We woke up very early this morning at the Baymont Inn. I’d had a panic attack last night so I was very tired since I couldn’t fall asleep. Sherry and I took advantage of the hotel’s free breakfast and discussed our impressions and expectations of the new people we were about to meet and the new journey we were to embark upon.
Paula, one of our fieldmates, joined us at our table. She was/is very outgoing. Then, a little later than scheduled, we met Dr. Moses. Paula had driven from Arizona with her. Dr. Moses did not look anything as how I imagined her when I read her emails.
Our first stop was to pick up the other three girls from Myrtle Beach, SC. Megan is from California. Kaitlyn and Yvonne are two Navajo sisters from Arizona. They all go to NAU.
From picking them up, we went straight to Hobcaw Barony. We learned about rice plantations and the local wildlife. We toured the standing slave cabins and talked about the history. I would have enjoyed the trip more if I hadn’t been devoured by mosquitoes and horseflies. It made me miserable, but I learned a lot about how to tell approximate time periods of slave cabins by how they were built and the functionality of certain features.
As a souvenir, I bought a $10 pair of alligator earrings and a $1 bird call. The money gets donated to Hobcaw Barony’s conservation efforts so it was definitely worth it.
Then, we went back to the waterfront district of Georgetown for a leisurely lunch at Harborside Seafood & Italian. I had salad with Italian dressing and penne with red sauce. My entree was AMAZING – stuffed flounder with crab, fresh and cooked perfectly. I give the place a 4/5 because of staff goofs, though. The view was also beautiful.
After lunch, we made our way to the Rice Museum. Which was dedicated to – you guessed it! – rice. We saw real artifacts from the old rice plantations, learned about the culture and economics of Georgetown’s rice boom and decline and got to see a boat found in the lake from the 1700s.
When that was over, we head to the floating hydraulic bridge and crossed to Cat Island. Then, we had to wait for Dr. Moses to return from dropping off the rental van. We sprayed bug spray to lessen our toil and found refuge inside the wildlife office. After almost an hour, we finally made our bumpy way to the dig house.
The dig house has a living area, 4 bedrooms, a washer/dryer and 2 bathrooms. We went over the rules, picked our rooms and explored a bit. There was such a beautiful breeze coming off the marsh, swaying the Spanish moss and the hair in my face.
After Sherry and I cooked keilbasa, mac and cheese and green beans for dinner, we all – except for Paula and Dr. Moses – sat out on the porch, enjoying the breeze and getting to know each other. I crocheted and listened mostly. We played Farkle, talked some more, and that concluded our first day at historical archaeology field school.
So far, it obviously isn’t going to be as transformative for me as California. However, I do believe I will learn so much about the Civil War era, South Carolina, plantation history and dynamics, as well as myself as an archaeologist. And as a horsefly and palmetto bug despiser!
Thursday, June 1, 2017
That did NOT conclude our first day at field school! At least not for me. At night, there were so many ballsy palmetto bugs and a huge spider in my room. I had a hard time falling asleep and, once I did, something would wake me up. I kept feeling sensations like bugs crawling on me and it jolted me from sleep. After that, I kept myself up by reading, crying, listening to music and playing mahjong and solitaire on my phone. Finally, I got up at 6 a.m. and was ready by 8 for our first field day.
Something is always wrong. First, we get to the site and the forest management people hadn’t done their job to rid the area of the brush. Instead of being rational and calling them right away to fix it and going back to the house, we traipsed through thick brush with the risk of snakes, gators, mosquitoes, chiggers, horseflies and poison ivy. Of course, because the state of the land was what it was, it was futile. We could see nothing and were chewed to pieces. Eventually, we called the forest people and they sprayed for bugs and bulldozed the area.
While they worked on that, we all went back to the house. Dr. Moses told us about different types of pottery in the area and how to catalogue our finds.
OOPS – I FORGOT –> Before we went back to the house for lunch, we grabbed the metal detector and took turns using it in a field where the main house was thought to have been. We found some interesting things. At one point, I stood between two live oaks and looked down to the slave street. I felt eerie, as though I had been transported back in time. Suddenly, I could imagine the view down to the linens that may have been worn.
(I should mention here that the Tom Yawkey Wildlife area is completely undeveloped. So, in theory, I was standing in the exact scene as those before me stood.)
Anyway, after lunch, we went back to the spot that was originally overgrown. We searched the area for brick that would indicate where the slave cabins were. I found some brick, along with some of the others. I paired up with Megan, Sherry and Paula were another group and Kait and Von were the other pair. I was put on the hearth section of the cabin. The sisters were in what may have been a backyard area. Sherry and Paula were given what may have been the front door. We learned how to grid a unit. Once we set up 3 separate units, we returned to the house for the day, leaving the alligator that was swimming behind us to its solitude.
Once back, Sherry had to meet her husband to go to her son’s wedding. The keys “somehow” got locked in the van, so after a bunch of crap, Sherry finally got to where she was going. Some of us talked some more that night and played Scrabble.
Overall, it wasn’t a great day. It’s felt pretty rough. I guess I’ll have the room to myself for a couple of days, but I like having someone around who knows me and supports me and who appreciates my support as well.
I didn’t end up coming back to this after my nap. Basically, dinner was a stir fry. The sisters and I played Scrabble together. We talk a lot, and I think we will be friends. 🙂 Also, I played some Oblivion and wrote a chapter outline for a book I want to write. I gathered my movies together and let everyone know the movie options while we are here. I talked to my dad for a little while until I went to my room to watch The Hobbit and go to sleep. I’ve remedied my buggy sleep situation by keeping the light on when I sleep. I don’t know if I will be able to continue this when Sherry returns.