History

Historic Stagville preserves a small fraction of the plantation holdings of the Bennehan-Cameron families. Friom 1771 to 1865, the Bennehan and Cameron families profited from the forced labor of enslaved Africans and African Americans on this land. By the 1860s, the Bennehan-Cameron family controlled over 30,000 acres of land and enslaved approximately 900 people. The Stagville farm and quarters was one of the oldest sections of this enormous plantation complex. Today Stagville is a historic site dedicated to interpreting the lives, culture, and labors of enslaved people on the Bennehan-Cameron plantations. 

The site has been preserved as a state historic site since 1978, including a Bennehan family plantation house (c. 1787-1799), four slave dwellings at Horton Grove (c. 1851), and a massive timber-framed barn (c. 1860). Most of the historic landscape features are gone, but the site include the foundation of an enslaved family's house, a historic road bed, a Bennehan family cemetery, and the foundation of a plantation kitchen

Historic Stagville State Historic Site continues to research and teach about the lives of enslaved and freed people. The site's history draws on architecture, archaeology, oral history, and written records kept by the Bennehans, Camerons, enslaved people, and overseers. Our staff can consult with descendants, researchers, and community members seeking to learn more about Stagville's history. 

Additional Resources

Want to learn more about Stagville's history? These books are available online, at our site, or at your local library.

Anderson, Jean Bradley. Piedmont Plantation. A detailed history of the Bennehan-Cameron families, including a chapter focused on enslaved African Americans mentioned in their family letters and business records. [Out of print.]

Gutman, Herbert G. The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom. This book features family history and transcripts of enslaved people's names from the records of the Bennehan-Cameron plantations.

Nathans, Sydney. To Free a Family: The Journey of Mary Walker. A moving biography of Mary Walker, an enslaved woman who was owned by the Cameron family, escaped from slavery, and fought for her family's freedom.

Nathans, Sydney. A Mind to Stay: White Plantation, Black Homeland. A profile of an enslaved family forced to move to Cameron land in Alabama, and the community they built on that land in freedom after 1865. 

McDaniel, George. Kin and Community. Oral history, family trees, and photographs of African American families who lived and worked at Stagville after the Civil War. [Out of print.]