Godiah Spray Tobacco Plantation

Posted by on Jul 25, 2012 in Blog | 4 comments

Godiah Spray Tobacco Plantation Reconstruction, St Mary's City, Maryland

Godiah Spray Tobacco Plantation, St Mary’s City, Maryland

–  Click on the image to enlarge or purchase  –

Historic St. Mary’s City  has recreated a tobacco plantation on land once owned by Daniel Clocker.  Clocker was a carpenter and indentured servant to Thomas Cornwallis, who arrived in Maryland in 1636.  Though poor and illiterate, Clocker by 1660 had acquired 200 acres of land, and at his death in 1675, sat on the Common Council of St. Mary’s City.  He survived “the seasoning” – an immigrant’s first year in the New World when all sickened and many died – and built a small estate in the expanding tobacco economy.  Towards the end of the century, opportunities for such poor men declined and virtually disappeared as larger plantations supported by slave labor began to dominate.

This reconstructed tobacco plantation is a living history exhibit based on the detailed 10-year account kept for the orphans of Robert Cole, a Roman Catholic from Heston, near London who brought his family to St. Clement’s Manor in 1652.  He and his wife died in 1662; the children and servants, overseen by a guardian, lived on the plantation until the oldest reached 21 in 1673.  The guardian’s account of this period, with its detailed account of daily life, may be unique for the 17th century British colonies.  The plantation, its structures, fields, livestock, and inhabitants represent life in the year 1661, and is called the Godiah Spray Tobacco Plantation. Although the Spray family is fictitious, the name came from old court records.

Godiah Spray Tobacco Plantation Reconstruction, St Mary's City, Maryland

Godiah Spray Tobacco Plantation, St Mary’s City, Maryland

–  Click on the image to enlarge or purchase  –

Seventeenth-century plantation houses in the Chesapeake area were small, post-in-the-ground wooden structures of one or two rooms, usually with lofts above. They were covered with clapboard on the walls and roofs and their chief advantage was that they could be built cheaply and quickly. Even well-to-do people lived in such houses, although they might have windows with glass instead of wooden shutters, brick chimneys instead of chimneys made of wattle and daub (mud and sticks), and wooden floors instead of well-packed dirt.  Seventeenth-century planters did not usually have outbuildings for cooking, dairying, smoking meat, or for privies, such as began to appear later.

Godiah Spray Tobacco Plantation Reconstruction, St Mary's City, Maryland

Godiah Spray Tobacco Plantation, St Mary’s City, Maryland

–  Click on the image to enlarge or purchase  –

4 Comments

  1. Really like the color contrast between the brilliant greens and the house Mark.
    Len Saltiel recently posted..Falls ViewMy Profile

  2. I’m fascinated by old houses like this and the history that goes with them. Thanks for sharing.
    Steven Perlmutter recently posted..Gearing UpMy Profile

  3. Interesting history and images, Mark. I really like the second photo.
    Mark Neal recently posted..HDR – Clear The BeachMy Profile

  4. I love old houses like this. If only those walls could talk. Beautifully composed and captured Mark.
    edith Levy recently posted..Thunder HoleMy Profile

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