The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 76, July 1972 - April, 1973 Page: 362
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
hill, with a spring or stream nearby. They needed both the wood and
the water to make life bearable for themselves and their servants. Shel-
ter from the weather was the next imperative. Normally the settlers
used the materials at hand; and, although there were exceptions, the
slaves were housed in much the same manner as their masters. The early
houses of both were of logs, those of the masters being more commodi-
ous than those for the slaves. Usually the cabin for a slave family was a
one-room building, about 20' x 20', with a fireplace for cooking and
heating. A loft, reached by a ladder built against a wall, was the sleep-
ing room for the boys if the family was a large one.
As the planter prospered his own log house was expanded either with
additional rooms or wings constructed of logs or with a frame addition.
Other planters replaced the log house with a new frame or brick build-
ing. With the growing sophistication of the establishment, servants
might be moved in to occupy a wing of the "big house" or might have
cabins in the yard. But field hands usually remained in cabins at least
a quarter of a mile from the main house. On large plantations the hands
might be divided into two or more groups and the houses for different
families be located near the lands which they cultivated.2
The evolution of the slave quarters often followed the same course of
development as the big house, with log structures being replaced by
frame or even brick buildings. Log buildings were difficult to maintain,
for they dried out and had to be rechinked and pointed up frequently,
diverting many man hours of labor from more profitable duties. Also,
views. Although most of these interviews were conducted before the author's marriage, for
convenience the citations will be made to her married name or initials.
The generalized descriptions of plantation life appearing in this article are drawn from
interviews or conversations with the following people. Former slaves or descendants of
slaves: Mrs. Sarah King, 1922-1926; Mrs. Alice Davis, 1927, 1931, 1933; Laura Stewart, 1934-
1942; ahd Mr. and Mrs. Wharton Collins (Frances Spriggs Collins), September 23, 1935.
Plantation owners or descendants of plantation owners: Mrs. Hally Bryan Perry, 1922-1952;
Mr. and Mrs. George Munson, September, 1927; Mrs. W. B. Hanson, September, 1927, July,
1931; Henry Austin Perry, September, 1927, July, 1931, September, 1935; Mrs. George Pierce
Garrison, 1928-1932; Mrs. William P. Devereux, 1928-1932; Thomas W. Blount, Septem-
ber, 1928; Mrs. Bettie Youree, September, 1928; Mrs. Susie Kretz, September, 1928; Mrs.
DeWitt Smith, September, 1928; Louis J. Wilson, July, 1931, September, 1935; Wharton
Terry, summer, 1935; Mr. and Mrs. Ballinger Mills, summer, 1935; and Rees Sweeny, Sep-
tember 22, 1935.
2 The division of labor at Waldeck provides a good example of the separation of slaves
into groups to live and work in different places. A Mr. Knowles had charge of an operation
which was not headquartered at the main plantation, and this second operation usually
appears in the Waldeck letters under his name. Hamblin Bass to Mrs. Rebecca Adams,
June 15, 1862, March 2, 1863; Bass to Dr. Robert Adams, June 22, September 21, 1862, in
Gary Doyle Woods (comp.), [Waldeck Letters:] The Hicks-Adams-Bass-Floyd-Pattillo and
Collateral Lines, Together with Family Letters (Salado, Texas, 1963), 296, 298, 304, 320.
This collection will hereafter be cited as Woods (comp.), Waldeck Letters.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 76, July 1972 - April, 1973, periodical, 1973; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101202/m1/418/: accessed October 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.