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Contributions of Enslaved Workers


The majority of skilled laborers who built Gaineswood were enslaved. Many of these names are lost to history but we do know that a man named Dick was a mason and master builder. Another man, Sandy was also a mason. And James, in 1854, was a 24 year old carpenter.

We know of a very special man named Issac. N. B. Whitfield travelled extensively and Issac apparently traveled with him. They were exposed to many dangers and illnesses, so in 1825 he and Issac were vaccinated for smallpox. A letter dated 1847 possibly the same Issac working on the columns for the house.

Other enslaved persons became domestic servants and were tasked with household chores. A few of these jobs included cooks, butlers, carriage drivers, gardeners, maids, nurse maids, laundresses, seamstresses, and valets. From documentation we know some of their names: Phoebe, a weaver in 1835, and Hannah and Bethemin who were cooks.

By 1861, Gaineswood was the center of a large plantation where cotton was the major crop, which was harvested and tended by many enslaved field hands.

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