Before U.S. Highway 68 was widened, archaeologists from AMEC Earth and Environmental investigated the remains of an early nineteenth-century plantation owned by Mason Barkley. Both architectural and archaeological remains provided a glimpse into the lives of the people who once lived at and worked on this plantation.
The intact foundations of the main house, detached kitchen, slave house, and smoke/meat house revealed that the plantation’s buildings and layout changed over time. The main house was a four-room wooden structure built shortly after Barkley inherited the land from his father. As the size of Barkley’s plantation grew and he enslaved more blacks, he became a wealthy planter. He added on to his house, converting the kitchen into a slave house, and building a smoke house. Barkley eventually became so wealthy, he could afford to build a new house and outbuildings on another part of his plantation. He converted his old house into quarters for his growing enslaved population. His primary cash crop, hemp, was used to make twine and bags for baling cotton in the Deep South.