Visitors to Francis Marion University in Florence can get a look inside history at two hewn-timber cabins built by slaves for sleeping quarters on a cotton plantation.
The cabins, open on the second Tuesday of each month, were part of a plantation owned by J. Eli Gregg. The slaves lived there from the 1830s through the Civil War. After emancipation, the cabins were moved to locations around the farm, some were added to and people lived in them until the early 1950s.
“Hand-hewn” means the trees were felled and the builders stripped off the bark and squared up the logs while they were building. It took a great deal of strength and skill to build these cabins, especially in the early 19th century when “power tools” were people-powered. The dovetail corners are a testament to the craftsmen’s skills.
Originally about eight cabins were built. The two surviving ones are on the National Register of Historic Places.
The cabins are open 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month from March through November. Visitors also can stop by the cabins anytime and read about the builders and the residents on signs outside the cabins.
The signs tell the story of Ms. Catherine, who made lye soap outside her cabin, and about where the first residents would have come from in Africa.
The cabins are located on Wallace Woods Road on the campus of Francis Marion about 200 yards from U.S. 301.
If you can’t get there in person, you can take an online tour to learn more about the people who lived in the cabins. The website includes recordings of people who lived there well into the 20th century, including Catherine Waiters who was one of the last people to live in one of the cabins.
For more information, contact the college at (843) 661-1311.