St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Monday, February 28, 2011

Remembering Black History: Whispers in the Savannah Barracoons

Recently, I gathered my children and headed on a road trip to Savannah.  After all, the weather was delightful and I was ready to escape all the dreariness of winter and cabin fever.

I wanted to be sure to talk history and show some historic places to the kids.  While I didn't have the time on this trip to visit the final resting spot of my 2g-grandpa at Laurel Grove Cemetery in Savannah, I did make the time to wander River Street, and of course, the Pirate House.

I find the history of River Street and the surrounding area fascinating even if my family had no ties to Savannah.  My 2g-grandpa is only laid to rest there as he was traveling home to South Carolina after having been wounded in the Civil War when he died.

River Street dates back in time to early Savannah.  I can just imagine the ships arriving with new supplies, visitors and cotton being taken to market. I remember going to Savannah often as a child and my Yank dad pointing the Slave Barracoons that are right at River Street.

Looking at the barracoons, you can see the small windows each one had to allow air in and out.  The doors are long gone, but evidence of them being there at one time are still visible.  The barracoons were and are rather dark and dismal.  It's just hard to believe that people were kept there as they were most likely jammed in tight.  Up above one opening on the day we were there was a gorgeous tree who had just sported its new spring coat.  What a contrast of color and hope that tree presents next to the barracoon.

Today, these temporary holding places for slaves are used as parking spots. There are no signs or plaques to indicate what these holding places were used for.  I find that sad.

I struck up a conversation while I was there with two local gents who thanked me for taking the time to look at the barracoons and tell my children about them.  The gents also were happy to tell me that spirits of the past can easily be felt in the lower levels of the some of the antique shops which are down on or right above River Street.  I imagine the fear those poor souls felt would be something that could linger in the air.

The gents also said slaves who had been transported to Savannah from other places would be kept on Hutchinson Island until they were brought over to the Savannah port to market. Included in the lore from the gents was that slaves, their ancestors, would gather the unwanted fish thrown to the island by the fishermen boats at night.  They said lobster and shrimp would have been on the menu as those sought after treats of today were not so popular with the Savannah folk back then.

The gents also regaled me with other stories about when George Washington was in Savannah, but to date,  I have found no supporting documentation for their statements on slavery rules in Savannah.

Ahh, genealogy.  Learning about others' roots in early America can make you sit still and listen for  whispers in the wind.

1 comment:

TCasteel said...

A Very interesting post. Thank you,
Theresa (Tangled Trees)