The main house at Faunsdale Plantation in 2008
|Location||near Faunsdale, Alabama|
|Area||13 acres (5.3 ha)|
|Architectural style||Greek Revival, Carpenter Gothic|
|MPS||Plantation Houses of the Alabama Canebrake and Their Associated Outbuildings MPS|
|NRHP reference #||93000602|
|Added to NRHP||13 July 1993|
Faunsdale Plantation is a historic plantation near Faunsdale, Alabama, United States. The slave quarters on the property are among the most significant examples of slave housing in Marengo County and are among the last remaining examples in the state of Alabama. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places on 13 July 1993 as a part of the Plantation Houses of the Alabama Canebrake and Their Associated Outbuildings Multiple Property Submission.
The plantation was established in the 1830s by Messrs. Pearson and H Tayloe. Tayloe, who later built St. Andrew's Episcopal Church (Prairieville, Alabama) and served as Secretary of the Alabama Diocesan Episcopal Convention, was the local land agent for his brothers: Benjamin Ogle Tayloe of Washington DC and owner of Windsor, Sidson and Meadow Hill, Canebrake (father to Pvt Edward T Tayloe, later of Windsor Plantation, Canebrake); William Henry Tayloe of Mount Airy, co-owner of Oakland (or "Woodville"), Adventure, later part of Cuba Plantation, and Larkin Plantations in the Canebrake; Edward Thornton Tayloe of Powhatan Plantation, co-owner of Oak Grove in the Canebrake; and George Plater Tayloe of Buena Vista Plantation (father of Maj. John William Tayloe, architect of nearby Hawthorne and buried Oak Hill Cemetery (Birmingham, Alabama) and Col. George E Tayloe-both of the Canebrake), owner of Elmwood in Arcola and co-owner Walnut Grove on the Demopolis Uniontown Road. These five brothers were sons of Col John Tayloe III of the Octagon House in Washington DC and grandsons of Col John Tayloe II who built the grand colonial estate Mount Airy in Richmond Co, Virginia. These brothers are "considered the most important pioneer cotton planters of the Canebrake, as to the extent of their enterprise there."
Nine Hundred and Sixty acres were then purchased by Dr. Thomas Alexander Harrison from Charles City County, Virginia in 1843. "Dr. Harrison was one of the notable acquisitions to the Canebrake and to the citizenship of Alabama. He was a gentleman of most polished manners, handsome person and rare intelligence. He was six feet high, weight of 200 pounds but active, a fine dancer and an expert horseman. He never resumed practice of his profession in the Canebrake, giving his attention to the plantation, which he cultivated in the highest customary skill. Every morning, as he rode among the negroes in their hoes, plows, etc., every individual man and woman, young or old, saluted the master: "Good morning," the males with lifted hat and the females with pronounced courtesie. The custom was peculiar to the Faunsdale plantation. There was a touch of superstition in Dr. Harrison's prejudices, it seems. The negroes had increased in natural way several years, outgrowing the original plenty of cultivable acres on the plantation. The master had desired a tract of 340 acres adjoining, owned by Mr. Robert Armstead but it was not to be sold. Dr. Harrison dreamed he had met Mr. Armstead mounted on the line and had purchased the tract. After breakfast still impressed with his dream a few hours earlier, he rode to the point the dream indicated. Mr. Armstead presently appeared, mounted, and remarking that he expected to remove to Montgomery to live, as United States Marshal of the District Court, the Pierce administration; he had sold his plantation nearby to a gentleman, Mr. Walker, from Georgia, and now Dr. Harrison was at liberty to buy the detached 240 acres. The negroes continued to increase in natural way. About 1855 Dr. Harrison bought land in Louisiana near the Mississippi river, wild land. He sent a strong force of negroes there."
"Mrs. Harrison was notable woman. She had been educated in every advantage this country offered to her generation. She was taught by governess and tutor at home, Edenton, and seven years was a pupil at a famous school for girls in New York. Her mind was brilliant, her temper was amiable, her manners distinguished. Several years in widowhood, she married Rev. William A. Stickney of the Protestant Episcopal Church. He took his residence in the Faunsdale plantation. He was a remarkable man, intelligent, resourceful, hospitable, a minister of note in his church.
Mrs. Harrison, before her second marriage, built a handsome chapel on her plantation for the use of her negroes. Mrs. McRae of the Athol plantation, widow, also built a chapel for her negroes. Msr. Bocock of the Waldwic plantation built one, Mr. Terrell, owner of the Brame plantation, built one. Dr. and Mrs. Harrison were parents of one child only, Louise, who married her cousin, William B. Shepard of Edenton."
Named after Faunus, the ancient Roman deity of the forest, plains, and fields. Harrison is known to have brought a large number of slaves with him from Virginia, he is listed in the 1850 Federal Census of Marengo County as having $18,300 in property. Dr. Harrison was killed in a buggy accident on 5 Sept 1858 and the nearby town of Faunsdale was named after his plantation in his honor. "Mrs. Harrison converted the "M" to U in the ortography. It was on the Uniontown and Dayton road, five miles east of the first named place, and Dayton was seven southwest."
Faunsdale Plantation is one of the few large plantations in Alabama where detailed slave records were kept and managed to survive as part of the historical record. These records indicate that the Harrison family held roughly 99 slaves in 1846. This number had increased to 161 by 1857. A list from 1 January 1864 also indicates that Harrison's widow, Louisa, owned 186 slaves, at least 35 families. Some of the slave surnames noted at that time were Barron, Brown, Francis, Harison, Iredell, Mutton, Nathan, Newbern, Paine, Parsons, Richmond, Washington, and Wills. Fourteen of these enslaved people had died by the end of 1864 from causes ranging from typhoid fever to measles.
St. Michael’s Church
In 1844 Harrison and his wife, Louisa, gave 1-acre (4,000 m2) of their plantation for the building of a log church across from their plantation house. In 1846, Alabama's first Episcopal bishop, Nicholas Hamner Cobbs, visited Faunsdale Plantation and noted that Louisa Harrison gave regular instruction to her slaves by reading the services of the church and teaching the catechism to their children. In 1852 the church was renamed St. Michael’s Episcopal Church and by 1855 a Gothic Revival style church building had been constructed.
A churchyard for burials was established in 1858 with Dr. Harrison being the first interment. Slaves, and later freedmen, from the plantation began to be buried there in 1860. The church building was moved to the town of Faunsdale in 1888 and was later destroyed by a tornado in 1932, though the churchyard remained an active burial ground.
Several years after the death of Thomas Harrison, Louisa remarried to Rev. William A. Stickney, the Episcopal minister for St. Michael's, in 1864. Stickney had been one of the first ministers ordained by Bishop Cobbs and was appointed by Bishop Richard Wilmer as a "Missionary to the Negroes" in 1863. Louisa joined him as an unofficial fellow minister among the African Americans of the Black Belt.
The plantation house at Faunsdale Plantation is a simple Greek Revival style two-story wood frame structure with a gabled roof, flanked on each side with one-story gabled wings. The nearby slave cabins date from 1860 and are also wood frame structures with high-pitched gables and scalloped barge boards that show a Carpenter Gothic influence.
A portion of the front elevation of the Greek Revival main house in 2008
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
- Marengo County Heritage Book Committee: The heritage of Marengo County, Alabama, pages 17-18. Clanton, Alabama: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2000. ISBN 1-891647-58-X
- Cooper, Chip, Harry J. Knopke, and Robert S. Gamble. Silent in the Land, page 112. Tuscaloosa, Alabama: CKM Press, 1993. ISBN 0-9636713-0-8.
- "Chronicles of the Canebrake", by John Witherspoon Dubose, Alabama Quarterly, Winter 1947
- JW Dubose, "Chronicles of the Canebrake," Alabama Quarterly, Winter 1947 p.492
- "ADAH: Marengo Historical Markers". "Alabama Department of Archives and History". Archived from the original on 2007-08-21. Retrieved 2008-01-24.
- JW Dubose, "Chronicles of the Canebrake," Alabama Quarterly, Winter 1947 p598-599
- "Faunsdale Plantation". "Sankofa's Slavery Data Collection". Retrieved 2008-02-14.
- "An excerpt from Bishops, Bourbons, and Big Mules". "J. Barry Vaughn". Archived from the original on 2008-05-15. Retrieved 2008-01-26.