Archive for September 18th, 2019

A Bit of Time to Think

September 18, 2019

Sometimes, I need time to think.

Sometimes my thinking time is in the car driving to and fro. I’m in the car a lot. One day at work I had announced that I practically lived in the car, and a new person was horrified. “You live in your car?!”  No, I don’t live in my car. Pay attention, new people. I have what I need in my car, and possibly I also have what you need. Once my daughter needed to stop at the store for dog food on the way home after she received her doctorate. I told her that I had dog food in the trunk, and that was a puzzle because I didn’t have a dog. There’s an explanation for that, but not a very interesting one, and it saved us a trip to the store. There’s cat food, and dish detergent, and sewing needles, and crackers.

My brain is a bit like my car. There’s important stuff in there, but you might not be able to tell it. Sometimes a thought congeals like a small dish of Jello. Where once you had an amorphous mix of ingredients, it slowly became a fully-formed thing, although it might wiggle around a bit.

This particular thought process has a definite beginning, middle, and end. The beginning was when I started viewing the Lawton collection at the South Caroliniana Library and found all those good plats and documents. The middle came when I was sorting through the images and researching the old names. The end was a crystal clear realization that things weren’t what I thought they were.

When we talk about the old days, the slavery times before Freedom, a lot of people talk about how their families were linked to the slave families. It’s hard to find records prior to the 1870 census that mentions the slave people by name. The American Loyalists had slaves, and the old documents named them. When I looked at Zephaniah Kingsley’s documentation of his losses, he mentions an area called Black Swamp that is near present-day Robertville, a plantation that had enough housing for 150 Negroes, but he only mentions a handful of slaves by name who appeared to be his property for his personal use, not farm labor. He had property in several towns up and down the coast of South Carolina. I would suspect that he didn’t live on the Black Swamp plantation in St. Peter’s Parish. When the thought clicked in my brain that the property at Black Swamp was a work camp, I got a different picture than the Gone With The Wind mentality. One hundred and fifty people lived and possibly died in a remote location. No niceties. No family atmosphere. No freedom. No one to mark their passing. This was a full 100 years before Freedom came.

A whole century that I can’t wrap my mind around.