A Walk Through History

Veronika Payne Oct. 31, 2017

On October 30th I took a trip to Historic Stagville. Stagville Plantation was the place of residence to as many as nine hundred enslaved African-Americans in 1860. Owned by Richard Bennehan and Duncan Cameron, you may have heard of some of the enslaved families that resided in these homes. Family names such as the Cameron, Edwards, Harris, Hart, Haskins, Holman, Jones, Justice, Moore, Peaks, Sowell, Suitt, Umstead, Veasey and Whitted are just some of those who were enslaved at Stagville during the 18th century. Many of these family names may ring a bell because there are streets, hotels, parks and much more named for them in Durham.

There are living descendants of these families still residing in Durham today.

While on our trip we also took a walk through Triangle Land Conservancy’s nature preserve at Horton Grove. Horton Grove Nature Preserve is TLC’s largest public preserve with eight miles of trails. During our visit to Horton Grove, we got to explore its stream. We learned about the necessity and importance of a clean body of water from TLC’s resident AmeriCorps member Molly Richard.

We were given a task to find and identify amphibians in groups of two. We got to see a crawfish as well as a salamander. Salamanders inhabiting the stream are a good thing because they are indicators of clean stream water.

We also learned from TLC’s Associate Manager of Stewardship, Matt Rutledge, about the types of trees at Horton Grove. One specific species of tree that lives at Horton Grove is beech trees. Beech trees have a thin bark that is not easily flammable. At a place like Horton Grove, control fires are necessary to keep the land from being covered in complete forest. Horton Grove gives us not only insight into history but a place of rich agricultural and environmental resources.

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