Booker T. Washington National Monument
The Civil War interrupted the routine on the Burroughs farm, when all of the sons left to fight for the Confederacy. James Burroughs, the father and master of the farm died in 1861, leaving the supervision of daily farm activities to the Burroughs women. Shortages of luxury goods and certain food items were common during the war years. Washington recalled that the white people suffered from the lack of products they were accustomed to. However, the war did more than create shortages and hard economic times. Only two of the Burroughs sons survived the war physically unscathed.
With the southern defeat in 1865, the Emancipation Proclamation issued in 1863 was enforced to free southern slaves. Washington remembered listening to a Union soldier read the document on the porch of the Burroughs house. After receiving the joyous news, his mother Jane took her three children to West Virginia to be reunited with her husband who worked there in the salt mines.
The southern economy suffered tremendously after the war and the Burroughs were not spared from economic and social turmoil. The emancipation of the slaves reduced the Burroughs family's net worth by one half. Post-war land values also plummeted. Since none of the children desired to farm the Franklin County property, Elizabeth Burroughs, James' widow, unsuccessfully attempted to rent or sell it for several years. In 1893, the family sold the property to John Robertson and his family.
After recently reading "Up From Slavery", I was excited to learn of this monument and made time to visit it. I found the experience of walking around the plantation to be contemplative and relaxing, though stimulating at the same time. At the Visitor Center, the ranger gave a good historical overview of the plantation, but we also had a great conversation about the legacy of the oft-misunderstood Booker T. Washington. I wish I had more time there to sit on a bench and ruminate about the peacefulness of the environment, its disturbing past, and the impact on young Booker. Several structures remain on the plantation, although the slave quarters and main house are gone. It's a pleasant and easy walk around the grounds, focused on the experience rather than the details. Sites are labeled, but there is not a lot of text to read (though there is plenty of information at the Visitor Center). You will see pigs in the pig pen, ducks in the duck lot, a horse by the horse barn, etc. The Visitor Center and rangers helped to provide the context and answered questions. As a bonus, the gift shop had a nice selection of commemorative items. Overall, it was a great experience that enriched the intellectual understanding I had gained from books.
This wonderful national monument has beautiful grounds, and is so educational. Here you can travel back in time, and learn about how an amazing man overcame incredible obstacles, followed his dream, and gave others the same chance he did. Walk through the amazing Forrest trail, and walk through the fields, to get a gylmse into what life was like 150 years ago. Don't forget to view the museum, and watch the movie to learn about Booker T. Washington's amazing life. And, of course, view all of the animals that they keep, no petting allowed though.
Went when i was in elementary school and absolutely loved it!!! Want to go back again
Great historical replication. Beautiful views and great quick hike with the family. Staff are helpful and courteous.
Very informative for all ages. Visitors' Center shows movie and has an educational exhibit. Path to outdoor plantation buildings is not a long walk but slopes/hills might be a challenge for some.